Producing/Consuming 'Romantic Scotland': Exhibitions, Heritage, Nation & the Chinese Market

Lead Research Organisation: Historic Environment Scotland
Department Name: Education and Outreach

Abstract

This project has grown out of a long-standing relationship between Historic Environment Scotland, Nomad Exhibitions and Nanjing Museum, which has previously produced the award-winning 'A Tale of Two Cities' exhibition, as well as the touring exhibition by Nomad, 'Ming: The Golden Empire'. Nanjing Museum, which was extensively extended and reopened in 2013, currently welcomes 2.6m visitors a year, with that number increasing by 10% each year.

In 2017 Nanjing Museum will host 'Romantic Scotland: Castles Land and Sea' - an exhibition curated by Historic Environment Scotland, Nomad Exhibitions and the Scottish National Gallery. Based on the experience of 'A Tale of Two Cities', and the current visitor profile, we expect Romantic Scotland to receive in excess of 500,000 visitors.

The proposed research project will facilitate knowledge exchange between academic and cultural institutions in Scotland and China, with the aim of increasing understanding of audiences and capacity for audience research in both countries. In China this will allow Nanjing Museum to take the lead in expanding the standard practice in Chinese museums of simply gathering quantitative data, to a more sophisticated methodology, analysis, interpretation and presentation of qualitative audience research. In Scotland it will enhance understanding of what motivates Chinese visitors to engage with our culture and heritage.

The project has four aims: to build the capacity of Chinese museums in gathering, analysing and interpreting audience research data; to capture the reactions of Chinese audiences to the 'Romantic Scotland' exhibition; to broaden understanding of Chinese perceptions of Western cultural heritage; and to discover how exhibitions, and those that construct them, influence the interpretation of key signifiers of Scottish cultural heritage.

The project is strongly aligned to the AHRC Strategic Plan for 2013-18, as well as the Delivery Plan for 2016-20. It will help to deliver on AHRC's remit to 'enhance its contribution in policy development and public engagement, making explicit the contribution of arts and humanities research to the understanding of national life in an international framework' as well as to increase 'openings for international research and co-development with agencies operating overseas'. The project will also contribute to the AHRC's priority 'to support and strengthen international research in the arts and humanities through strategic partnerships'. China is a priority country for AHRC and RCUK, where the aim is to 'stimulate international collaboration at all career stages to enhance arts and humanities researchers' access to resources, schemes and initiatives'. With its partnership of heritage and academic bodies, its core of supported early career researchers, and its collaboration with culture and tourism institutions, all in both China and the UK, this project will make a significant contribution to achieving that aim.

Planned Impact

This project is designed to generate impact in a number of different areas, including the academic, heritage, culture and tourism sectors, both within China and the UK. There are a number of multi-layered impacts that will be achieved from the project, which will be demonstrated at local, national and global levels. In summary form, the project-a collaboration between industry, academe and end users-will offer data that will generate enhanced knowledge on both the production and consumption of heritage (via the Romantic Scotland exhibition). We will demonstrate instrumental impact with respect to influencing the development of policy/practice in preparing an exhibition for a global audience and the specificities of consumption in China. Conceptual impact will be demonstrated with respect to reframing debates/changing thinking about how to evaluate exhibitions and how to develop the tourist product for a Chinese audience based on a greater comprehension of the nuances of said market. The research will also deliver impact on practice with respect to the engagement of end users (who are integrated into the project design, team and Advisory Board from conception). Indeed, given the project is a collaboration amongst academic, creative, and non-academic partners, there will be on-going impact that can aid in bridging theory/practice gaps, at the local and global level.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Romantic Scotland UK Exhibition 
Description Romantic Scotland exhibition at Duff House, Aberdeenshire, 18 May - 29 September 2019. Included panel on research project. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Extension of collaboration between Historic Environment Scotland and National Galleries of Scotland. Exposure for AHRC funded research. 
 
Title Romantic Scotland exhibition 
Description Romantic Scotland exhibition at Nanjing Museum, China. Curated by and comprising works of art, objects and photography from Historic Environment Scotland and Scottish National Gallery. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Very positive audience response. Provided focus for promotion of Scotland to Chinese visitors and tour operators. Provided focus for professional development of Scottish tourism operators. 
 
Title Romantic Scotland through a lens 
Description Romantic Scotland through a lens photographic exhibition touring Historic Environment Scotland properties. Includes panel on research project. First venue Stirling Castle 15 October 2019 - 9 January 2020 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Exposure of AHRC research 
 
Description A range of methods were used to capture and analyse the Chinese visitors' experiences, attitudes and interpretations of Scotland's cultural heritage. Visitor observations were carried out through a mobile tracking software application which monitored visitor behaviour. More traditionally, a self-completion survey was conducted on-site at the exhibition to gather visitor opinions. The same visitors were then encouraged to provide written comments through graffiti wall post-it notes and postcard messages, with further reflections uploaded through video messages ('video diaries') captured at the exhibition site. The researchers also conducted focus group interviews with visitors and Nanjing Museum volunteer staff at the close of the exhibition.

The evidence-based findings fall into four key areas:
- Exhibition: Empirical evidence identified the exhibits that attracted the most amount of attention and overall satisfaction with the exhibition (96% rated the exhibition as either good or very good). The data reveals a preference to see additional historic relics, in particular traditional clothing, and a desire to experience interactive exhibits that incorporate Scottish folklore, everyday life, and traditional customs.
- Behaviour Patterns: Data reveals how visitor behaviour varied amongst different demographic groups; the most significant being varying levels of engagement amongst younger and older visitors with different types of artefacts and exhibits.
- Learning: The empirical evidence explicates how visitors were able to make sense of Scotland's unique history, customs and practices relational to pre-existing cultural orientations and desires. The data reveals differential levels of cognitive visitor engagement with differing exhibits.
- Perceptions of Scotland: The data highlight that Scotland's landscape and natural scenery, particularly the coastline, acted as a key place marker for Chinese exhibition visitors. Unique, 'exotic' and 'authentic' signifiers (e.g. Highland dress) were also considered important in framing Chinese perceptions of the nation, and were perceived as unique and distinctive qualities of Scotland's cultural heritage and identity.

The project had four objectives:

1. To build the capacity of Chinese museums in gathering, analysing and interpreting audience research data.
The project was very successful in meeting this objective with the team at Nanjing Museum and through the bilingual publication. All the research methods were developed and delivered collaboratively with Nanjing Museum, involving a number of their staff and volunteers. This project was the first time they had used a tracking app and video diaries, and the first time they had recorded and analysed the written feedback left on postcards and the graffiti wall. Nanjing Museum is one of the top three museums in China and plays an important role in influencing the wider museum sector, particularly in Jiangsu Province.

2. To capture the reactions of Chinese audiences to the Romantic Scotland exhibition and broaden understanding of Chinese perceptions of western cultural heritage
The 100,000 visitors over three months to Romantic Scotland at Nanjing Museum enthusiastically embraced the interactive elements of the audience research, providing an extensive body of data on their thoughts on the exhibition and the different types of material that were displayed. In addition, the tracking app gave detailed information on their movements and behaviours in the exhibition.

3. To discover how exhibitions, and those that construct them, influence the interpretation of key signifiers of Scottish cultural heritage
The data gathered to analyse this aim was particularly rich, making it clear that the exhibition had a distinct influence on how the audience interpreted Scottish cultural heritage.

4. To provide feedback to inform engagement and management practices across differing cultural organisations, and promote cultural exchange and capacity building for all stakeholders involved.
In addition to the core research team, the project had strong involvement from additional stakeholders in heritage tourism and the cultural sector. By focusing the research around a single exhibition, a strong platform was available for rich cultural exchange. Everyone involved in the project developed new understanding and enhanced skills in working across and between cultures.
Exploitation Route The findings can be taken forward and put to use across three area - audience methodologies, exhibitions for Chinese audiences, and marketing Scotland (and the UK) as a destination for Chinese visitors.

It was expected that the range of audience methodologies deployed would be of primary interest to Chinese museums, where this practice is in its infancy. However, it has become clear through the range of presentations given by the team, and the reactions of stakeholders to the published report, that Western museums and galleries are equally interested in the methodologies and particularly how they worked in combination.

The detailed analysis of audience reaction to different types of media (works on paper, oil paintings, objects, historic and modern photography), as well to individual works and how they were interpreted is of key interest and use to those preparing exhibitions both in the UK and for touring in China. This has already been directly applied by the National Galleries of Scotland in the planning for the redisplay of their Scottish collection.

Those involved in heritage tourism, most specifically but not exclusively in Scotland, are using the findings to add a layer of detail and nuance as to how they market Scotland to visitors from China. Many of the findings are also relevant to the marketing of the other home nations.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description The findings are being used by two distinct sectors - museums, galleries and heritage bodies, and tourism. For the former the research team has given presentations on the findings at conferences and workshops in the UK, Denmark, India and China. In tourism, the findings are being used to inform the visitor strategies of Visit Scotland and have informed the China Ready strategy of the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group. The publication launch events at Edinburgh Castle and Tate Modern were a key route to presenting the findings to representatives from both the cultural and tourism sectors. The experience of collaboration in China is of significant interest to many stakeholders. Advice has been sought from a number of institutions, including the UK Science Museum Group.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Audience research in China
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Positive influence on the skills of staff and their practice of audience research at Nanjing Museum, China. Increased their capacity and practice for qualitative research, to add to the quantitative they already practiced.
 
Description Romantic Scotland Collaboration 
Organisation Nanjing Museum
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research led and co-ordinated from UK. Exhibition at Nanjing Museum on which it is based curated by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) with loans from Scottish National Gallery.
Collaborator Contribution Local management of research in China, including provision of staff and volunteers for data collection. Designed and produced exhibition on which research is based.
Impact Romantic Scotland exhibition, Nanjing Museum, 28 April - 28 July 2017. Research data including 1,000 surveys and 6,000 video diaries.
Start Year 2016
 
Title Visitor tracking and visualisation app 
Description An app employed on a tablet to record visitor profile, movement and behavior in exhibitions, with visualisations of the results. Developed by Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University as an unfunded addition to the original project. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Allowed detailed recording and analysis of exhibition visitor profile, movement and behaviour 
 
Description BANES Museum Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Manley A and Chung L Y 'Using tracking apps to study visitor experiences and engagement' at BANES Museum Group, Bath, April 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description British Museum Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentations by Manley A, Chung L Y & Silk M 'Producing /Consuming 'Romantic Scotland' at Nanjing Museum: the Role of State Museums' and 'Utilising Large Sites and Historic Buildings for Tourism promotion: (Re)Presenting Narratives of Nation through the Arts' at Arts, Materiality and Representation Conference, Royal Anthropological Association, British Museum, June 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Confucius Institute 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation by Bailey R 'Romantic Scotland in China: Delivering an Exhibition and Research Partnership' at Confucius Institute for Scotland Summer School of Arts, University of Edinburgh, August 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Edinburgh launch 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Launch of project findings and publication at Edinburgh Castle, October 2018. Presentations by Alex Paterson, Historic Environment Scotland CEO and Professor Roey Sweet, Arts and Humanities Research Council, as well as Bailey R, Manley A and Wang Y. Audience comprised tourism, culture and heritage professionals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Friends of Duff House 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Rebecca Bailey and Patricia Allerston - 'Romantic Scotland: Captivated by the Elements - from Nanjing to Banff', Duff House Friends, Banff, 21 March 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Hangzhou Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Manley A, Chung LY, Bailey R M, Wang Y, Silk M 'Producing/Consuming 'Romantic Scotland': Using Exhibitions as a Mode of Representational Power' at Association of Critical Heritage Studies 4th Biennial Conference, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, September 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description ICAM Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Bailey R 'Romantic Scotland in China - a research collaboration' at 19th Congress of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums, Copenhagen, September 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description ICOM Kyoto CECA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Rebecca Bailey - 'Romantic Scotland in China - using active engagement to understand audiences', Committee for Education and Cultural Action, International Council of Museums General Conference, Kyoto, Japan, 4 September 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description ICOM Kyoto ICEE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Rebecca Bailey - 'Romantic Scotland in China - research as exhibition', International Committee for Exhibition Exchange, International Council of Museums General Conference, Kyoto, Japan, 3 September 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description ICOM Kyoto ICFA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Rebecca Bailey - 'Romantic Scotland in China - audiences perceptions of art and nation', International Committee for Fine Art, International Council of Museums General Conference, Kyoto, Japan, 2 September 2020
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description INTERCOM conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International Council of Museums International Committee on Museum Management conference on Entrepreneurial Management, Kolkata, India.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description London launch 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Launch of project findings and publication at Tate Modern, London, October 2018. Presentations by Anna Cutler, Director of Learning & Research, Tate and Professor Roey Sweet, Arts and Humanities Research Council, as well as Bailey R, Manley A and Wang Y. Audience comprised culture and heritage professionals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Newton Workshop in Shanghai 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Newton Fund workshop, organized by RCUK - China, in Shanghai, China, to encourage dialogue and future UK-China collaboration in the Creative Economy. Part of a large Chinese Government Innovation Forum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Political event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of research at UK-China High Level People to People Dialogue event to launch a UK-China Science strategy. Presented via exhibition stand which was visited by Vice Premier of China, UK Government Minister for Universities, and HRH Prince Andrew. Other delegates included British Embassy staff and a wide range of UK university Vice Chancellors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Pro Vice Chancellor talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Talk by Professor Jonathan Knight, University of Bath Pro-Vice-Chancellor to the Mayor of Bath and School of Management concerning research and the University's environment, titled 'Environment Matters!', Bath, September 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Professional development visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Edinburgh Marketing brought their 'China Champions' professional development study trip to Nanjing Museum to tour the exhibition and receive a presentation on the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Royal Society of Edinburgh Xian Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Rebecca Bailey - 'Romantic Scotland - Understanding Museum Audiences', Protection, Management and Utilization of Cultural Heritage Resources Workshop, Royal Society of Edinburgh and Institute of Archaeology Chinese Academy of Social Science, Xi'an, China, 12-14 March 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Suzhou Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Manley A, Chung LY, Wang Y on 'Understanding the 'Experiential Value' of Heritage Assets: Acquiring Insights and Perceptions from Chinese Visitors' at 2nd International Conference on Heritage of China, Suzhou, China, September 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Tourism event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Visit Scotland arranged an event at Nanjing Museum for Chinese tour operators, centered around the exhibition and research, to promote Scotland as a tourist destination.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Tower of London Engaging Audiences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Rebecca Bailey - 'Romantic Scotland in China - the challenges and rewards of international audience research', Engaging audience data and research within museums and heritage, Tower of London, 26 September 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Webcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact At the opening of the exhibition and launch of the research at Nanjing Museum, 38,000 people joined a live web broadcast from the exhibition, requiring the team to respond live to their questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Working Internationally conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Andrew Manley - 'Romantic Scotland in China: Understanding audiences, enhancing diplomacy, maximising partnerships', ICOM Working Internationally conference,British Library, 11 March
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019