Arran Rees

Arran Rees


My research is particularly interested the conceptual and processual barriers to collecting digital culture in museums, and whether existing professional collections management frameworks can accommodate social media and born-digital objects. Through my work I use case studies and action research methodologies to actively test and experiment with approaches to collecting social media content.

My supervisory team includes Dr Robert Knifton, Dr Helen Graham and Dr Elizabeth Stainforth.

I have a BA in History from Swansea University and an MA Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. I spent the best part of a decade working in the museum sector in a range of roles including the following:

  • Collections Information and Systems Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Collections Curator at the Cardiff Story Museum
  • Collections Manager at the Royal Mint Museum
  • Documentation Officer at Blaenau Gwent County Council

I am an active member of the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage and have been collaborating with the Collecting Social Photography project, a three year Nordic research project exploring how museums and archives should adapt their work practices around photography collections in the era of social media. I also sit on the committee of ICOM UK


Some preliminary research outcomes include:

- Rees, A.J. (2020) Image Recognition as a Tool in Cataloguing Born-Digital Photography. In Uimonen, P and Hartig, K. eds. Connect to Collect: Approaches to collection social digital photography in museums and archives.
- Rees, A.J. (2020) What does that meme? Collecting and curating memes in museums. In Chagas, V. ed. Estudos sobre Memes: história, política e novas experiências de letramento [Meme Studies: history, politics, and new literacies experiences]

- Memes should be archived in museums. BBC News
- Are memes worth preserving? ACMI Online
- 'Top tips for ethical digital collecting' in Contemporary Collecting: an ethical toolkit for museum practitioners. London Transport Museum and Arts Council England
What does it meme? When social media becomes part of the museum collection. Museum ID

Research interests

My research is focused on museum collecting, digital cultural heritage, internet cultures and museum collections management practices. I am interested in action research practices and bridging the gap between theoretical museological debates and contemporary museum practices in a broad spectrum of museum and heritage sites.

 Other interests include:

  • Digital collecting
  • Contemporary collecting practices
  • Popular culture and digital culture
  • Memes and GIFs
  • Cultural collections management policy and procedures
  • Operational practices and organisational structures
  • Ethical digital practices


  • MA Museum Studies
  • BA History

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage