Day 3 Thiksey Monastery

This was the first time Alex or I had been to the site and we are still trying to articulate the sensations we had in the monastery. The team are having very reflexive discussions about what it means to experience such a powerful site and to also actively research it. We will build upon these thoughts as we progress and it is the foundation of our plan to continue research at Thiksay, then visit other monastery sites and reflect upon this prior to a final visit to Thiksay in our last days in Ladakh.



Day 1 to 2 Ladakh

Things Unbound continues with a small contingent of researchers from UK heading to the Himalayas in India. Sandra, Alex and Oonagh will do a follow up visit to a Buddhist monastery, Thiksey, where fieldwork was previously undertaken. In addition, the research team will visit other Buddhist monasteries to contrast how visitors are interacting with objects and the site itself, where the site is an active place of devotion as well as a tourist destination.

After an eventful journey from Heathrow to Delhi to Leh, we arrived in Ladakh. As we are 3000m above sea level, we took two days to acclimatise. Luckily our guest house has a balcony with a view.


Market Harborough reflections

Over the last week the team has continued research at Harborough Museum and our guests from India have visited different English museums.

Harborough Museum was a rich research site. It was the first time the team had observed how visitors interact with social history objects that were familiar to them, as our other research sites have been a cathedral, monastery and an Indian royal family museum.

We observed many visitors interacting with objects that were mediated by their memories of them. This was especially evident with inter-generational visits, when grandparents would talk about an object with their grandchildren. The most attractive objects in the local history area for children was the activity area, and for adults it was the screen showing a series of historic photographs of the area. The historic audio visual presentation screen is near the local history area, and the historic photographs inspired many visitors to visit the local history area.

This is the fourth research site of the project, and we have gathered much data. It was a short visit from our Indian colleagues, who have returned to Delhi, but not before we had a farewell meal together.



Harborough Museum

The Harborough Museum is amazing! It blends locally made, used, and found material with threads of national and international history. The Hallaton Hoard is displayed in a way that visitors can see the coins but also uncover how people dressed and ate in the past. A guardian dog was discovered with the buried treasure, and it still stands guard as its position at the entrance of the hoard. The local history collection is a colourful, multi-layered, exciting, mix of everything you could think of – I could not believe there was a typesetter and corset business in Market Harborough. You will have to visit to find out more but here are a few pictures. My favourite object was in fact two – a pair of haunted shoes from the 1700s. I am sure they dance through the displays at night.

As it was our first day on site, we immersed ourselves in the museum and experienced it as a museum visitor would. We then made an action plan for observations and tracking visitors to find out how other people engaged with the exhibitions. This is the first local museum in our research project, so the outcomes will be interesting in themselves and in comparison to other sites. We will continue to observe, track, and enter into dialogues with visitors. Maybe we will meet you at the museum!

Things Unbound project returns to UK

A new team of researchers from India has arrived in the UK! Juhi, Kalyani and Sushil have never been to UK before, so they will describe their experience so far:

I landed at the Heathrow airport around 7.30 pm. I was welcomed by chilly winds and frost. Experiencing frost was something rare for me. I and my project colleagues indulged in clicking pictures of each other in the cold London night at the car parking. We were driven to the College Court at Leicester by a friendly driver. He made us feel comfortable all through the two-hour car journey by friendly conversations.

We reached the reception of the College Court where two staff members asked us to fill some form. Meanwhile, our driver helped us in unloading all our baggage. We all went to the allotted rooms, unpacked some of our stuff, and messaged our family and friends about our safe travel.

I found myself too jaded, went to the bed and fell asleep. The idea of exploring the local markets and museums the next day made my day and the sleep sweeter.

We reached London on Saturday. The weather was cold with freezing drizzle. The driver dropped me and my colleagues from India at College Court, the University hotel where we are staying.

On Sunday we went out to explore the City Centre market. We had our lunch there and then make a plan to visit New Walk Museum. After a treasure hunt we reached the museum. New walk has a rich collection of both natural and cultural heritage. It was a really wonderful experience.

Monday morning Dr. Sandra drove us to the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester. Oonagh gave us a small tour of the university. At university canteen we had our lunch which was a mix of Samosa and Naan.

In the afternoon we had a discussion on the data gathered from the field survey. Dr. Sandra add her valuable thoughts to this discussion.

Today we will start field research at the Market Harbarough Museum. We all are excited to sit the museum.

I reached London Saturday night. Now I am staying at college court in Leicester. Today I visited school of museum studies and main campus of Leicester university.


On Monday, we were all reunited – Dr Sandra Dudley who has been part of all research activity in India and UK, and myself Oonagh, who has researched in Ely, UK and Jaipur, India. The current phase of the project will be for our Indian colleagues to gain knowledge in a UK research environment, in addition to the whole team doing fieldwork at a local government museum and also performing data analysis on the material we have gathered in our research so far.

The current research site is Harborough Museum in Market Harbourgh, about 20 miles from Leicester. It is a converged museum/local archive/library that houses the Hallaton Hoard. Our fieldwork starts on Tuesday 14 February, and we can’t wait to discover what objects are on display and how visitors, and ourselves, respond to them.

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Data analysis in Delhi

Back in Delhi we had a number of meetings and discussions to gain a shared understanding of us as researchers and reflect on how we have developed as researchers in this project. We used ethnological approach to analyse field notes taken at different sites which informed our research action plan to be rolled out over the year. Rich material emerged from only a few pages of field notes, we are looking forward to finding what else we can discover when things are encountered and things are unbound.



Jaipur – City Palace Museum

As we travelled by tuk tuk to the City Palace Museum we saw, heard and smelt Jaipur. The tang of plastic in the occasional burning pile of rubbish, cows calmly wandering down the street, the beeping as motorbikes, cars, tuk tuks, and buses mingle together and flow through the city streets. We saw goats on top of cars, pigs running through side alleys, monkeys perched on top of buildings, flocks of pigeons on the wing casting shadows on the ground, horses, camels and the odd elephant.

At the City Palace Museum we observed how visitors interacted with objects, interviewed people about their museum experience, interviewed gallery attendants and noted what guides were telling the tour groups. We also made some new friends!