School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Dr Areti Galani




I research and teach in the area of Digital Cultural Heritage and Digital Cultural Communication; I am interested in the theoretical and practice-based exploration of digital technologies to enhance museum and heritage experiences, on-site and online. I primarily work with people-centred methodologies.  

Before I joined Newcastle University, I was a Research Associate in Digital Heritage in the University of Leicester. In 2004, I was a visitor researcher in the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham. Before I moved to the UK I worked as an assistant curator in the Athens University Historical Museum.

Roles and Responsibilities

Director of Postgraduate Research Studies (School of Arts and Cultures)

Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership (AHRC) - Partners Forum 

Newcastle University's Institute for Creative Arts Practice (NICAP) - Steering Group Member

Co-convener of the Digital Cultures research group  

Chief Editor and Technical Manager for the e-learning programme in Heritage Management and Tourism (2014-15)

External Examiner, MSc in Museum Studies, HATII, University of Glasgow (2012-16) 


Phd in Computing Science (University of Glasgow)
MA in Museum Studies (University of Leicester)
Degree in Greek Literature (University of Athens, Greece)


English (fluent) 

Greek (native) 

Italian (conversational)


Current research 

I am a Co-I in the Horizon2020 CoHERE project, which seeks to identify, understand and valorise European heritages, engaging with their socio-political and cultural significance and their potential for developing communitarian identities. I work with Gabi Arrigoni in WP4, collaborating with CIID and the University of Athens. The focus of our research is to explore through theoretical, empirical and design practice-driven approaches how different forms of digitally mediated dialogue(s) about, through and with heritage can support, enable, hinder and challenge both the imaginaries and the construction of European identitie(s). As part of this work so far, we have explored how serendipitous visual dialogues about and around heritage emerge through the analysis of user generated geotagged images of European historic squares on flickr.

We are also collaborating with CIID in organising co-design workshops around dialogue and we are about to embark on fieldwork with museum and cultural institutions in Europe that prioritise dialogue in their programmatic statements and their practice. The research from this WP is available on CoHERE’s critical archive.

Research Interests

My research and expertise are in the use of digital media in museums, galleries and the heritage sector, and especially the design, study and understanding of digital applications for the purpose of interpretation, learning, and exhibition design.

Design of digital media interventions in cultural contexts 

Throughout my academic career I have explored museum and heritage experiences by designing and developing mobile, ubiquitous and augmented reality interactive installations. As part of my PhD (funded by the Equator IRC), I studied social visiting in a mixed reality environment in The Lighthouse, Glasgow (2003). I have also co/led the participatory design and development of three web apps for three Rock Art sites in Rural Northumberland (2011) and two sensor-driven interactive installations in Seven Stories (2010) and Discovery Museum (2016) in Newcastle, UK.

Social media and museum participation

I have an ongoing interest in the role of social media and participatory platforms in shaping people’s capacity to engage with cultural content. I am also interested in how institutions change through their use of social media. In this context, I have carried out research on participation models and especially how user generated content, such as photographs, may be incorporated in museum displays and practice. I have also supervised doctoral research on how online communities of interest engage with historic photographs on Flickr the Commons; and I led, with Chiara Bonacchi, an extensive survey among Facebook funs of cultural institutions in the North East.

People-centred research methodologies in digital cultural heritage

I have a real affinity for research methodologies that allow me to understand people’s experience either as part of a design or an evaluation process. My design research always takes place ‘in the wild’. My approach is informed by the ethnographic and ethnomethodological traditions. I use a variety of methods such as culture probes, role playing and mind-mapping alongside more traditional ethnographic methods such as observations, video recordings, interviews and focus groups.

Call for Papers: Researching Digital Cultural Heritage international conference, Manchester 30 Nov. - 1 Dec. 2017 – Deadline for proposals: 21 July 2017

Postgraduate Research Supervision

I am delighted to supervise Brian MossRebecca Farley, Bethany Rex, Kathy Clough, Alexandria Brown and David Farrell-Banks.  

Previous research students include Ino MaragoudakiNikki Spalding, Kat LloydRachel Clarke, Anna Goulding, Bronwen Colquhoun, and Gabi Arrigoni.

I am interested in supervising PhD candidates working in the following areas, including creative-practice based research:

  • Digital media in museum/gallery/heritage settings
  • Online museum/gallery/heritage experiences
  • Social media and its implications for the cultural sector
  • Design and use of mobile, personal, ubiquitous technologies in cultural settings
  • Digitally mediated memory
  • Study and understanding of social museum experiences
  • Theory and practice of Visitor Studies
  • Ethnographic and Ethnomethodological approaches in the study of heritage experiences

Projects and Funding

  • CoHERE - Critical Heritages: Performing and representing identities in Europe, EC Horizon 2020, 2016-19, Co-I (c. 2,5M Euro)
  • Digital Designs for Museum Dialogue[s], NICAP, 2015, PI (c. £5K); with Discovery Museum, TWAM
  • Methodological investigations in capturing the impact of museum activities on older men, living with mental illness, NISR, 2015, PI (c. £5K); with Beamish Museum and Occupational Therapy, Mental Health Services for Older People (TEWV), Derwent Clinic 
  • ‘Who do we think we are?’ Exploring identity, place and belonging in the North East at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle, NICAP, Co-Investigator (c. £5K); with Discovery Museum, TWAM
  • Active Ageing and Heritage in Adult learning, EC Erasmus , 2014-17, Co-investigator (c. €290K)
  • Research for Community Heritage, Phase 2, AHRC, 2013-14, Co-Investigator (c. £60K) 
  • Engaged Culturally? A people-centred approach to understanding cultural social media activities. AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund, 2013, PI (£11K); with Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums
  • Rock Art Mobile Project, AHRC, 2010-11, Co-Investigator (£149K) 
  • Holding memories: Memory, Objects, Museums and Older People workshop series, Newcastle University Changing Age Programme, 2010-11, Joint-Principal Investigator (£4k)
  • Digital media in the Heart of the City, commissioned report, Newcastle City Council, 2010-11 (£3,5K)
  • Collaborative Innovation Partnership, One NorthEast, 2009, PI (£20K); with Seven Stories: Centre for children’s books 
  • Collaborative Innovation Partnership, One NorthEast, 2009, Co-I (£20K); with The Great North Museum: Hancock, TWAM
  • ‘Chiptune Marching Band’ series of workshops, 2009, Researcher – delivered in Maker Faire 2009, Newcastle upon Tyne; Pixelache 2009, Helsinki; Bent Festival 2009, New York; SPACE, 2009 London; and Creativity & Cognition 2009, Berkeley, CA.
  • The Digital Heritage Research Training Initiative, AHRC Collaborative Research Training Scheme, 2008-10, Co-I (£52K) 
  • Creative Digital Media Research Practice: Production through Exhibition, AHRC Collaborative Research Training Scheme, 2008-10, Co-I (c. £10K)
  • Campus Tales project in collaboration with Zelda Baveystock. Catherine Cookson Trust, 2007-08 (c. £3,5K) 


  • Member of the AHRC Peer Review College
  • Occasional peer reviewer for ACM conference publications on Human Computer Interaction (CHI, DIS)
  • Peer reviewer for museological journals (e.g. International Journal of Heritage Studies, Museum & Society) and conferences such as CSCW, Ubicomp, and Pervasive Computing.


Undergraduate and Postgraduate Teaching

I teach in a variety of UG and PGT modules. In 2016-17:

  • I was the module leader for the UG/PGT module 'Digital Cultural Communication' (MCH3169 / MCH8169)
  • I contribute lectures and seminars in 'Understanding Challenges in Museum/Gallery/Heritage Studies' (MCH8501) and Communicating and Learning in Museum/Gallery/Heritage Studies (ICS8503) 
  • I supervise MA level dissertations in Museum Studies, Heritage Studies and Art Museum and Gallery Studies and UG level dissertations in Media, Communication and Cultural Studies.
  • I organise and provide training sessions for Postgraduate Research students in Media, Culture, Heritage and across the School of Arts and Cultures.   

In previous academic years I was the module leader for the postgraduate Interpretation and Exhibitions module (ICS8010, 2006-2016) and the postgraduate Dissertation in Museum/Gallery/heritage studies module (ICS8099). I also contributed learning materials and editorial leadership to the postgraduate e-learning programme on Heritage Management and Tourism (PG) and supervised student projects in the MRes in Digital Media.

As part of the Interpretation and Exhibitions module students developed a variety of public museum displays and online interpretation projects in collaboration with a variety of cultural partners in Newcastle. In 2012 - 2016 these projects took place in the Great North Museum: Hancock. A number of online student projects for this module are still available to see:

  • The Hancocks: Scientists in the Studio (2012-13). As part of the interpretation the team developed an exhibition blog and used Twitter to bring John and Albany Hancock to life. 
  • Hide and Seek! It's more than just a game, it's how animals survive! (2013-14). As part of the interpretation the team developed an exhibition blog.
  • From Shells to Shields: The Natural World and its Influence on Human Defence (2014-15). As part of the interpretation the team developed a series of creative writing stories and illustrations available on the exhibition blog.