School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Dr Bruce Davenport

Research Associate

Background

Background

I work as a Researcher in Media, Culture, Heritage. My research is mainly focussed on the work that cultural heritage organisations do with older people, especially those with dementia. I am currently working on three concurrent projects:

  • Dementia & Imagination - looking at the impact of creative arts interventions on people with dementia;
  • Active Ageing & Heritage in Adult Learning - a European project looking at the impact of reminiscence sessions in open air museums for people with dementia and their accompanying carers;
  • End of Volunteering - a pilot project exploring the impact of being obliged to cease volunteering due to ill-health or other age-related conditions.

I also have an interest in understanding object handling and the ways that people interact around museum objects. Alongside my research, I contribute to the taught Masters programmes in Museum, Gallery and Heritage Studies.

Before joining Media, Culture, Heritage, I have had a varied career which continues to inform my work. I worked in academic research in the field of high temperature deformation mechanics in steels and aluminium alloys for 7 years before deciding to move over into the cultural heritage sector. In 2003, I took up the post of Assistant Learning Officer in the Shipley & Laing Art Galleries (Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums). During this time I developed a successful programme of workshops and resources for primary schools, focusing was on encouraging cross-curricular work in the art galleries. Since 2007, I have worked as a freelance museum and gallery educator and researcher, developing and delivering workshops, writing resources for museums and managing projects.

Qualifications

  • 2017 MSc, Psychology, University of Northumbria
  • 2007 PGCE, Primary Education, University of Northumbria
  • 2003 MA, Museum Studies, Newcastle University
  • 1994 PhD, Engineering Materials, Southampton University
  • 1991 B.Eng. (Hons), Aeronautical Engineering, Manchester University

Memberships

  • British Psychological Society
  • Group for Education in Museums
  • Museums Association

Languages

  • Working Dutch


Research

In recent years, I have been involved in a number of projects which focus on the impact that cultural and creative work can have on people's lives.

I am currently working with Prof. Andrew Newman on the 'Dementia & Imagination' project. This looks at the ways that creative activity can enrich the lives of people with dementia and their carers. This is a large interdisciplinary project involving research groups from universities across the UK. My role is to analyse the qualitative interview data with the participants and with their carers and then to integrate that with data analysed by other researchers.

I am also working with Prof.  Rhiannon Mason on the 'Active Ageing & Heritage in Adult Learning' project. This project involves 5 open-air museums and 3 universities from across Europe. It looks at the impact that reminiscence activities in these museums has on participants. The goal is to develop good practice advice for other museums. My role in this project has been to manage the evaluation process and collaborate with the other university partners on the evaluation of the quantitative data.

I am the Principal Investigator on a pilot project which is intended to explore the impact of being obliged to cease volunteering due to ill-health or the effects of ageing. The project will consider both the personal experience of volunteers and the management responses to this issue. The project is jointly funded by the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal and the Newcastle University Institute of Ageing. My co-investigators are Prof. Andrew Newman and Dr Suzanne Moffatt  (Institute of Health & Society).

I have recently completed a project with Dr Areti Galani where we collaborated with staff at Beamish Museum to develop 'Methodological investigations in capturing impact of museum activities on older men with mental illness'. This was a small, exploratory project, funded by the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, to find suitable and unobtrusive methods for capturing the impact of sessions that staff at Beamish had developed with staff from a regional Occupational Therapy Clinic aimed at providing socially meaningful and therapeutic experiences within the museum setting. I worked with the museum staff to develop the methods which involved observation and lifestory interviews. We also collaborated on the data gathering and analysis.

In 2010, I worked in a freelance capacity on the Ageing, Health & Vitality project. This was a collaboration between Newcastle's Institute for Ageing and local museum services to explore the impact that engaging with museums has on older people. My role was principally as project manager and liaison between the different partners but I became involved in the literature research and data analysis aswell.

In 2011, I worked with Prof. Mason & Dr. Galani on a pilot project called Holding Memories. The aim of the project was to explore why objects provoke memories. We explored how different settings influence the conversation and interactions between a group of people. The project drew on multi-modal conversation analysis and aspects of grounded cognition to consider both the verbal and embodied aspects of people's conversation. This project focused more on process than outcomes and it relates to interests in object-based learning in museums. The synthesis of insights from psychology and material cultural studies is very fruitful and an area that I have studies, documented in my personal blog (Holding the Moment of Holding) and hope to explore further in the future.


Teaching

I have contributed to various taught modules on the MGH programmes. Over a number of years, I have worked as the Module Leader for the Management module and as the Placement Manager. I have also contributed to other modules delivering practicals and lectures on themes such as collections management, education, heritage & wellbeing. I draw on my own interests and experiences to inform my teaching. I have also worked as a Dissertation Supervisor and Personal Tutor.

Publications