School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Professor Rhiannon Mason

Head of School



I joined Newcastle University in January 2001. Prior to this, I studied for a PhD at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University, and taught at the universities of Cardiff and Glamorgan. I have previously been the Director of the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Director of Research for the School of Arts and Cultures, Director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of Arts and Cultures,  UoA 36 REF coordinator, and the head of Media, Culture, Heritage. I am the current Head of the School of Arts and Cultures (SACS). Our school comprises Fine Art, Music, and Media, Culture, Heritage and is home to over 100 staff and 1,300 students.


BA (Hons)

Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Google Scholar: Click here.


Research Interests

I am primarily interested in identities and heritage and I understand ‘heritage’ in the broadest sense. For me ‘heritage’ includes museums, galleries and heritage sites but also the many different ways that people and societies define and practice what they understand as ‘heritage’ outside the scope of formal cultural heritage institutions. As part of this, I try to understand how collective and personal memories and identities are interwoven within the physical and symbolic space of the museum. In particular, I am interested in museum displays about the histories of a place (whether regional, national, international or post-national).

I am especially fascinated by national heritages and how museums, in particular, are part of the process by which a given group comes to articulate a sense of collective past, present and future. Often this means I will look at competing discourses and the process by which certain national heritages become legitimised as opposed to others. My focus on national museums means that my work often involves thinking about the relationships between governments, states, and cultural heritage institutions. However, I am equally interested in how individuals negotiate between what they bring to their encounters with museums and what they find there in terms of collections and displays. My work is mostly concerned with the European context and the UK. More recently I have been working on ideas of postnationalism, cosmopolitanism and the national museum in Europe.

Although my work is rooted in ideas of cultural theory, I aim to draw out the implications for curatorship and wider museum practice. My work seeks to connect theoretical debates with practical concerns; my teaching and research projects frequently involve collaborating with heritage sector professionals.

Current projects:

2016-2019: European Union. Horizon 2020 Award. ‘CoHERE’. Overall value:€2.5 million. Newcastle Award Value: €800K. (Co-Investigator) 


2014-2017: European Union. ERASMUS ‘Active Ageing and Heritage in Adult Learning.’ Overall value: €290,000. Newcastle Award Value: £19,833. (Newcastle Principal-Investigator) 


2015 Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal Award. Collaborative research project with Tyne and Wear Archive and Museum. ‘Who do we think we are? Exploring Place, Identity in the North-East at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle.’ Overall value: £4,907. (Principal-Investigator) 


2015 Newcastle University Institute for Creative Practice. Collaborative research project with Discovery Museum, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums. ‘Digital Designs for Museum Dialogues’. Overall value: c£4,879. (Co-Investigator)



Previous projects:

2011-2015 European Union. FP7 Award. ‘MeLa: European Museums in an Age of Migrations.’ Overall value: €2.7 million. Newcastle Award Value: £220,821. (Co-Investigator)


2011-2012: AHRC Follow-on Award. ‘Intellectual Property and Informed Consent: Partnerships and Participation in Museum Work.’ Overall value: c£40K. (Principal-Investigator)  


2011-2011: AHRC Follow-on Award with UCL. ‘Heritage, Health and Wellbeing: Mapping Future Priorities and Potential.’ Overall value: c£40K. Newcastle Value c.£4K. (Co-Investigator)


2008-2011. AHRC ‘Art on Tyneside: Redeveloping a permanent display about art, place and identity at the Laing Art Gallery’. Overall value: £345K. (Principal-Investigator) 


2010-2011: Holding memories: Memory, Objects, Museums and Older People workshop series, Newcastle University Changing Age Programme, with Joint-Principal Investigator: Areti Galani. (£4k). With Areti Galani, I organised two interdisciplinary workshops in September and November 2010 on this theme. The workshops brought together external academics and practitioners with colleagues from ICCHS and other parts of our University. These workshops were supported through the University's Changing Age programme.

Esteem Indicators

Editorial Board Member of museum and society journal

Editorial Board Member of Memory Studies journal

Editorial Board Member of Journal of Museum History

AHRC Peer Review College Member

Work with the Cultural Heritage Sector

I have been involved in research for the redisplay of a major permanent gallery at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle (see above)

I facilitated team-away days for the History Staff of Tyne and Wear Museums in 2006 and 2008.

I participated in a series of seminars organised by the National Memorial Arboretum, The Royal British Legion, Staffordshire and Nottingham Universities to discuss Remembrance, Commemoration and Memorials:

I was an invited speaker in an event to discuss potential for creating a Museum Research Network for Northern Ireland in June 2008.

I participated in Newcastle University's Heritage City initiative (2008) aimed at highlighting to heritage professionals the potential for university research projects relating to heritage in the Newcastle area.

In 2008 I led a Capacity and Capability Fund project looking at issues of workforce learning and continuing professional development in the Cultural Heritage Sector. With Bruce Davenport I co-organised a regional symposium on this topic.

I worked with colleagues in ICCHS and CURDS on a project for English Heritage which looked at links between sense of place, local historic environment and social capital.



I contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in Media, Culture, Heritage and on the Faculty Research Training Programme.

Postgraduate Research Supervision

I welcome postgraduate researchers who want to work in any of the areas relating to my research, for example:

  • museums, galleries, heritage and identities
  • national museums and heritage
  • museums, heritage and European identities
  • cosmopolitanism and heritage
  • memory, heritage and museums
  • gender, museums and heritage
  • cultural theory and museology
  • cultural diversity and museums, heritage, galleries
  • history curatorship