Research enhances the work of Tate and enriches the experience of its visitors. Both the acquisition of knowledge and the generation of new knowledge are part of the cycle of research embraced by Tate: new thinking is captured and developed by staff, applied to their work, and shared for the benefit of specialist and non-specialist audiences alike. This cycle of research – characterised by an openness to new ideas and a willingness to improve them – places emphasis on intellectually rigorous and imaginative enquiry. Research is measured by its quality and impact; it improves practice, advances thinking and contributes original and significant ideas to fields of knowledge and to the work of the museum.
Research at Tate extends across a multitude of fields including art history, collection care, curating, learning, museology, audience development and cultural policy. Undertaken by specialists working inside and outside of the museum and using a range of methodologies – from historical to practice-based, from the quantifiable to the experimental – research at Tate is manifested in various forms, including exhibitions, education programmes, conferences, articles, films, interviews, online publications and catalogues.
Central to realising Tate’s research ambitions is the Research Department, which works with all Tate divisions and galleries to create a vibrant and rigorous research infrastructure and programme of pioneering research. The team acts as a point of exchange for research at Tate, with three core functions: to develop the skills of staff at all levels by providing training and opportunities to conduct research; to encourage a rigorous approach to research and high standards of scholarship; and to foster relationships and creative collaboration across disciplines and departments, and between Tate and the scholarly community in the UK and internationally.
Collaboration is fundamental to Tate’s research philosophy, which values openness and exchange between different disciplines, across cultures, and with partners of various kinds, including universities. This is exemplified by the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme, which provides opportunities for doctoral students to contribute their research to Tate’s programmes and projects and gain professional experience working in the museum. Similarly, Tate’s research centres encourage Tate staff to work collaboratively across departments and with external partners, while the many research projects that have been launched since 2007 have been shaped in different ways by the academics, curators, conservators, independent researchers and artists who have contributed to them.