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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.

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



iniva Archivist

  • Kaitlene Koranteng

Project and Partnerships Manager

Project Administrator

You can contact us at

Project partners and collaborating organisations

AHCR Towards a National Collection logo


  • People stood looking at an instillation with various screens and colours
    Yu-Chen Wang, 2020-2022, 'If there is a place I haven't been to', installation view at Le lieu unique, Nantes (2022) and MoCA Taipei (2020).

    Announcing the Practice Researchers in Residence

    Four artist researchers have been selected to undertake a 15-month virtual practice-based research residency as part of the Transforming Collections: Reimagining Art, Nation and Heritage project.

  • A photo of a gallery space. An exhibition on the wall reads
    Stephanie Dinkins, On Love and Data (installation view), Stamps Gallery. Michigan, 2021

    Transforming Collections, Rewinding Internationalism at the Van Abbemuseum

    The Transforming Collections, Rewinding Internationalism conference aims to bring artistic, curatorial, art historical and museological practices into critical dialogue with machine learning development.

  • A corridor with both walls covered with artworks and the centre end wall has a digital display.
    Upper Gallery, Workshop block, London College of Communication, UAL. Photo by Ideal Insight

    Initial Project Report

    The Transforming Collections project team have published their first report, documenting the approach and first year of activity on the Towards a National Collection (TaNC) Discovery Project.