Research and asking questions

We want to help you research the collections. What kind of questions can you ask? Here are some prompts to help you get started.

When there is a lack of information about objects in the collections, we are often required to ask different questions about the objects.

Sometimes we might want to bring a new context to an object we might already know, or knowledge about a similar object that can provide new insights into the collections.

You do not need to have research training to be a community researcher. Your unique knowledge, lived experience, and position as a community member can help bring new perspectives to the collections.

Whether you want to research archives, correct mistakes and relay additional information with community knowledge, or respond to the collections in artistic and creative ways, your approach can help us all learn new things about the collection.

What kind of questions can you ask?

Your research can take you in any direction you want, but it can be difficult sometimes to know where to start. Here are some ideas of starting points for your research:

  • What are the objects?
  • Descriptions, cultural significance, how are they used?
  • What stories do they tell?
  • When did they get to the Horniman? Who took them there? What stories are attached to them?
  • How were they collected? Where is the community this object came from? Why does this object matter?
  • What was the context in which these objects were collected? Social, political, cultural, economic and environmental.
  • What is the best way in which these objects should be cared for in the future? How? Where? By whom?
  • How does this object make you feel? Does it remind you of similar objects? Does the object evoke memories for you?

Find a range of academic and online resources that may be useful.

Have a look at examples of community research projects that have approached and responded to the collections in a variety of ways with other research journeys.