The Collections Lab brings together scholars, specialists, librarians and curators to discuss the challenges and opportunities of researching, teaching and engaging with diverse collections. It is a forum for communicating good practice, forging collaborations and ensuring that the groundbreaking collections-related work taking place across the university is shared and recognised.

In pursuit of this mission, the Lab organises events to showcase collections-related research and to discuss issues including theories and practices of collecting, pedagogy, exhibitions, cataloguing and discoverability, public engagement, and knowledge exchange. We focus both on Glasgow's own uniquely rich collections and on the wide-ranging projects conducted by university researchers using archives and collections worldwide.

Join Collections Lab

If you'd like to become a member of the Collections Lab, please send an email to stating, "I would like to join the Collections Lab and receive news and events relevant to the community."


Books and Borrowing in Eighteenth-Century Glasgow

When: Thursday, 7th April, 13.30-15.00 (online); 13.30-15.00/17.00 (in-person)
Where: Online & in-person
What can historic library borrowing records tell us about the milieu that produced Adam Smith, the great theorist of capitalism; or James Watt, whose improvements to the steam engine propelled the industrial revolution? Which books were the students and professors at the eighteenth-century University of Glasgow actually reading? How Scottish was the Scottish Enlightenment?

Tackling these questions and more, this event provides an opportunity to engage with the ongoing work of the AHRC-funded 'Books and Borrowing, 1750-1830 project', as documented at

The event is split into two sessions, both taking place in Special Collections on the top floor of Glasgow University Library. The first session will also be broadcast online.

Session 1 (13.30-15.00): Following introductions from Prof Katie Halsey and Dr Gerard McKeever (Stirling), there will be a series of talks from experts at Glasgow: Dr Kit Baston, Dr Michelle Craig, Dr Craig Lamont, Robert MacLean (GUL), Dr Dahlia Porter, Dr Craig Smith, Dr Matthew Sangster.

Session 2 (15.30-17.00): After an interval with free refreshments, this more informal session will give in-person attendees the chance to see some of the eighteenth-century books and borrowing records up close, and to chat to members of the research team. There is no obligation to stay for the full 90 minutes. 

The in-person tickets are limited to 40 people, so if you would like to come, sign up fast to avoid disappointment:


Virtual Teaching with University Collections

When: Friday 22 October 2021, 14:00 – 15:30
Where: Online
Practical demonstrations, lightning talks and discussions reflecting on a year of virtual collections teaching at University of Glasgow
This online free Zoom event, co-sponsored by University of Glasgow Collections Lab, Digital Cultural Heritage Lab & the LTDF Archives Unlocked project, will look back at the last year of technology-assisted virtual collections teaching, asking the questions: What worked? What failed? What lessons have been learnt? And what next?

Attendees will get the opportunity to see virtual collections teaching technology in action with demonstrations from Archives & Special Collections and The Hunterian. Virtual collections teachers & learners will share their experiences and thoughts through a series of lightning talks. And the event will conclude with a Roundtable Q&A asking: what's next?

Agenda and timetable:

Part 1: 2.00-3.00

  • Welcome and introduction - Maria Economou
  • Demonstration of Archives & Special Collections Virtual Collections Classroom (VCC) - Bob MacLean
  • Service provision and pedagogical strategies with ASC VCC - Bob MacLean & Johanna Green
  • Using VCC for learning about records & evidence: a student's perspective - Ash Charlton
  • Demonstration of The Hunterian Virtual Classroom at the Hunterian Collections Study Centre at Kelvin Hall - Lizzie O'Neill
  • Lessons learned from teaching Museum Studies and Digital Cultural Heritage students online with collections - Maria Economou
  • Experience of teaching Curating the Sciences course with videos of objects - Nicky Reeves
  • Teaching Global Economic and Social History in a Virtual Collections Classroom: Student Perspectives and Self-Reflections - Hannah Louise Clark
  • How to be in two places at once: political objects and radical intent in the Scottish History classroom, 2021 - Catriona M. M. Macdonald
  • Virtual teaching pre- and post- pandemic - Dot Porter (University of Pennsylvania / Schoenberg Institute)
  • AHRC project on Teaching with digitised collections in Higher Education: findings and lessons learned - Katie Eagleton & Kamila Oles (University of St Andrews)

Part 2: 3.05-3.30

  • Roundtable discussion

What Can We Do With ‘Ephemera Studies’? - Professor Gillian Russell

10:30am to 12pm, Wednesday May 12th 2021, via Zoom

ABSTRACT: In the course of researching and writing my 2020 book The Ephemeral Eighteenth Century: Print, Sociability and the Cultures of Collecting, I have been encouraged by and learnt from a new ‘ephemera studies’ that has emerged as a sub-field in eighteenth-century and Romantic period studies in the last ten years or so. New work is being produced on collectors of printed ephemera, most notably Sarah Sophia Banks, on ephemera in relation to the codex-form book and literary cultures, and on genres such as the playbill. The development of this interest is closely linked with digitisation that has made collections of ephemera accessible and generally more visible, in databases such as the John Johnson Collection and the British Library playbills project. It has also been influenced by the broader context of the ephemerality of electronic communication in the 21st century, the rapidity and evanescence of messaging and the manageability of the information that we daily absorb and forget. In this paper I’d like to reflect broadly on the category of printed ephemera and the new ‘ephemera studies’ in relation to some key conceptual issues, mainly how we define the category of printed ephemera itself in relation to some influential paradigms in literary and social history. The latter part of the paper will focus on a particular example of printed ephemera of the period – the poster or placard -- with reference to radical print culture post 1815, particularly the ‘Radical War’ in Scotland.

BIOGRAPHY: Gillian Russell is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York and Director of the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies. She is author of, most recently, The Ephemeral Eighteenth Century: Print, Sociability, and the Cultures of Collecting (CUP, 2020) and has book chapters forthcoming on melodrama and ‘true crime’ in the 1820s, Charles Lamb in the British Museum library, and visual representations of the Regency theatre.

Sign up here for the link:

Living With Chinese Objects

Wednesday 20 January 2021 at 2pm

This book launch and discussion celebrates the work of Collections Lab member Dr Minna Törmä, who has recently published her new monograph, Nordic Private Collections of Chinese Objects.  

This is a free online event, please register on Eventbrite: 

Nordic Private Collections of Chinese Objects has been published by Routledge in the series The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting, 1700-1950

Dr Minna Törmä explores in this book the ways in which Nordic private collectors displayed their collections of Chinese objects in their homes. This leads to a reconsideration of how to define collecting and display by analysing the difference between objects serving as decorative or collectible items, while tracing collecting and display trends of the twentieth century. She examines four Scandinavian collections as case studies: Kustaa Hiekka, Sophus Black, Osvald Sirén and Marie-Louise and Gunnar Didrichsen, all of whom had professional backgrounds (a jeweller, two businessmen and a scholar) and for whom collecting became a passion and an educational endeavour.  

Minna Törmä will be joined for a discussion on the homes of private collectors and their displays of objects by Dr Stacey Pierson (Reader, SOAS) and Dr Helen Glaister (Course Director, V&A Arts of Asia Year Course and Senior Teaching Fellow, SOAS). 

The event is supported by Collections Lab at the University of Glasgow and China Art Research Network (CARN;

Events 2020

Showcase Presentations

When: Friday 10 January 2020, 1pm to 5pm

Where: Kelvin Hall Lecture Theatre

Description: Showcase event to highlight the range and diversity of collections-related research going on across the university.  This event will follow the five-minute presentation format of the successful 'Collections, Then and Now' event held in October 2017 in order to allow as many people as possible to introduce their interests.  Collections Lab Showcase Programme


Collections Residency

When: 2 July 2019

Where: Kelvin Hall Teaching Lab 


Our aim with the Collections Residency is to build community between key stakeholders across the university whose work has close ties to the Lab's mission, and to plan the Lab's future directions for the coming year and beyond. The residency--a day of working together with materials from various kinds of collections--provides an opportunity to explore our diverse approaches to collections through conversation and collaboration. 

10:00 - 12:10 Welcome & Workshop with objects in museum collections, led by Dahlia Porter and Lola Sanchez-Jauregui  
12:10  - 12:45 Tour of the Stores at Kelvin Hall, led by Mungo Campbell
14:00 - 15:00 Book objects and book collections, led by Matt Sangster and Dahlia Porter
15:00 - 16:15 Digital collections and digitization projects, led by Lorna Hughes and Maria Economou
16:30 - 17:30 Collections Lab future directions
17:30 - 18:30 Wine reception

Teaching With Collections

Lecture and Discussion: Thursday 21 March, 17:15, Kelvin Hall Lecture Theatre
With Dr. Giovanna Vitelli, the former Director of the University Engagement Programme at the Ashmolean Museum.

Workshop With Objects: Friday 22 March, 10:00-12:00, Kelvin Hall Teaching Lab

These events are open to academic staff, post grads, curators, and collections management staff. Whether you are curious about how to integrate a collections-based session into an existing course, or want to know more about collaborating on a new course, these events will give you practical strategies and ideas for teaching with collections. In the lecture, Dr. Vitelli will discuss her work with the grant-supported University Engagement Programme at the Ashmolean; the workshop will engage participants with sample exercises.


Collections Lab Hunter Exhibition Tour and Discussion

Monday 26 November, 2018, 14:00-15:00, Hunterian Art Gallery

Tour and discussion of 'William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum' exhibition, led by curator with curator Lola Sanchez-Jauregui, followed by tea and a discussion of collections-related research at Glasgow, which will feed into Collections Lab events in 2019.

Collections Then & Now Conference

Thursday 17 May - Friday 18 May 2018, Hunterian Art Gallery lecture theatre and Henry Heaney room, 12th floor library

Public program of lectures and roundtables focused on building partnerships and collaborations between museum, library and academic staff to advance collections-related research at University of Glasgow.

Keynote lectures by:

Jane Pickering, Director of Harvard University Museums of Science and Culture
Handle with care: glass flowers, partnerships, and diverse museum cultures at Harvard

Kim Sloan, Curator of British Drawings and Watercolours before 1880 and Francis Finlay Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery, British Museum
Displaying, teaching and researching Enlightenment collections in the British Museum

Approaches to Objects: Methods and Themes

Monday 12 February 2018, 12:45-17:00, Kelvin Hall Lecture Theatre and Teaching Labs

Join us for a series of object-based workshops, methods sessions, and research discussion clusters led by staff and curators from across the university. Object-based workshops will focus on material drawn from the Hunterian collections, providing an opportunity to investigate practical and theoretical questions about how we study and work with collections. Methods-based sessions will focus on practical and technical methods of analyzing objects in collections. Discussion sessions are designed to be informal and allow a group to explore issues around teaching with objects and foment potential research collaborations around shared interests. 

Collections Then and Now Research Showcase

Tuesday 23 October 2017, 11.45-17.30, Kelvin Hall lecture theatre 

A program of 40 five-minute presentations by University of Glasgow curatorial and academic staff and graduate students will showcase the diverse and innovative collections-related research being undertaken across the University. 

Associated Staff: