Dr Emma Martin

Lecturer in Museology

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Emma is a Lecturer in Museology and she is also Senior Curator Ethnology for National Museums Liverpool (NML). She has worked as a curator of ethnography and decorative arts collections for 20 years, specialising in South Asia, the Himalayas and Tibet. Her research focuses on object-led research, especially colonial collecting and object-based knowledge production in the field. She received her PhD in 2014 for her thesis, “Charles Bell's collection of 'curios’: negotiating Tibetan material culture on the Anglo-Tibetan borderlands (1900-1945)”. The primary research for her thesis is embedded into NML's collections documentation. This is available on-line. Emma is currently turning her thesis into two books. 

Emma has been a Senior Curator for National Museums Liverpool since 2003 and prior to that she was Deputy Curator (1997-2002) and then Senior Curator (2002-2003) at Leicester City Museums. She project managed the final stages of the World Cultures gallery at World Museum (opened 2005) and she is managing its current redevelopment (due to open April 2019). She is NML's lead curator for a wide-range of exhibitions including the forthcoming, Work in Progress: The Preparatory Drawings of Taki Katei (2019) and Tibet: Dreams & Realities (2020). She has also developed several contemporary collecting programmes for NML's Asia collection. Her current project is Tibetan Realities: Collecting Tibet and its Diasporas (2010-ongoing) a themed programme of collecting that brings together contemporary art (funded by the Art Fund), fieldwork collecting and commissioned works from Tibetan cultural institutions.

In addition, Emma is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, Museum Ethnographers Group committee member and she is an academic advisor to Manchester Museum’s South Asia Gallery project. She is also acting as museum advisor to the Central Tibetan Government and currently developing interpretation strategies for the new Tibet Museum (due to open December 2018).

She holds degrees in the History of Art (DeMontfort University), Museums Studies (University of Leicester) and History of Art and Archaeology (SOAS, University of London). She studied literary and colloquial Tibetan in Nepal.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

  • Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • Course validation for Christie's Education.
  • 'Expert Advisor' for the ACE, Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest.
  • Occasional Peer Reviewer for journals and publishers including, Journal of the Royal Asiatic SocietyMuseum and SocietyWorld Art, and the Routledge series Museums in Focus.
  • Visiting lecturer at the BA History of Art, John Moores University Liverpool.
  • Visiting Lecturer at the MA Art History and Curating, Hope University Liverpool.
  • Visiting Lecturer, University of Copenhagen.
  • Committee member for the Museum Ethnographers Group
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

External positions

Senior Curator Ethnology, National Museums Liverpool

Jun 2003 → …


  • Museum Ethnography, Tibet, British Empire, Gift Exchange, Collectors and Collecting, Contemporary Collecting, Knowledge Production, Material Culture, Diplomatic History

Related information


Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

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