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Transforming Collections: Reimagining Art, Nation and Heritage

Transforming Collections: Reimagining Art, Nation and Heritage is a 3-year project led by Dr susan pui san lok, UAL Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of the Decolonising Arts Institute.

It’s 1 of 5 national Discovery Projects announced by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in September 2021 as part of Towards a National Collection (TaNC): a 5-year research and development programme harnessing the potential of new technology to dissolve barriers between collections.

Open Call: Practice Research Residencies

We recently put out a call for artist researchers to undertake virtual practice research residencies as part of the Transforming Collections project. Please note that the open call has now closed.

Find out more about our Open Call.

Read our initial project report on Zenodo.

A side profile photo of a young boy wearing a helmet
Larry Achiampong Relic 2 4K colour video with stereo sound 2019 © The Artist. Courtesy of Larry Achiampong & Copperfield London. Image courtesy of British Council Collection


Transforming Collections is driven by our belief that a national collection cannot be imagined without addressing structural inequalities in the arts. Its work will be carried out by an interdisciplinary team of colleagues from UAL Decolonising Arts Institute and UAL Creative Computing Institute working closely with Tate and a further 15 national and international collection and archive partners.

It will combine critical art historical and museological research with participatory machine learning design. It will embed creative activations of the research through artist commissions. It sets out to engage with the contentious histories imbued in objects and reveal the sometimes uncomfortable stories that collections tell.


This research seeks to enable online cross-search of collections, surface patterns of bias and uncover hidden connections, to generate new narratives around art, nation and heritage.

Its aims are to surface suppressed histories, amplify marginalised voices and re-evaluate artists and artworks ignored or sidelined by dominant narratives. And to begin to imagine a distributed yet connected evolving ‘national collection’ that builds on and enriches existing knowledge, with multiple and multivocal narratives.

Project team

Principal Investigator



  • Kit Bower-Morris
  • Dr Alice Correia
  • Andrew Cummings
  • Jon Gillick
  • Dr Tehmina Goskar
  • Ananda Rutherford
  • Dr Ian Sergeant
  • Dr Charlotte Webb

iniva Archivist

  • Kaitlene Koranteng

Project and Partnerships Manager

Project Administrator

Project partners and collaborating organisations

More to explore

  • 'Bullets' by Donald Locke
    Donald Locke, Trophies of Empire, 1972-4 © Estate of Donald Locke. Courtesy of Tate
    AHRC award

    Read about the £3m grant UAL Decolonising Arts Institute received to transform UK collections using emerging technologies.

  • Gallery with placards made out of magazines
    Sonia Boyce, Devotional Wallpaper and Placards, 2008-2020. Acquired by the Contemporary Art Society for the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) through the Rapid Response Fund, 2020.

    Learn about Decolonising Arts Institute activities.

  • Pamphlets and booklets on a table.
    Image: Daniel Day, AHRC Black Artists and Modernism project, David Medalla Study Day. Image: Daniel Day
    About us

    Find out more about our vision and ambitions for decolonising arts.