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Serena Iervolino

Dr Serena Iervolino

Lecturer in Arts & Cultural Management

Research interests

  • Culture


Serena joined CMCI in September 2017. Prior to that, she was Lecturer in Museology and Curatorial Studies at UCL Qatar (2014-17) - an off-shore department of University College London located in Doha, Qatar, where she primarily lectured on the MA in Museum and Gallery Practice. Between 2015 and 2017 Serena also served as Programme Coordinator of the MA in Museum in Gallery Practice, playing a key role in designing a cutting-edge and culturally embedded MA that successfully integrated museum theory and practice. Currently Serena continues to collaborate with UCL Qatar as an Honorary Senior Research Associate.

Before moving to the Gulf, Serena worked at the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies, University of Warwick (2013-2014), where she lectured on the MA in International Cultural Policy and Management. Between 2013 and 2014 Serena also held an AHRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Science Museum, London, and worked on the “All Our Stories” project (funded through the Connected Communities Programme). Whilst working on her PhD in Museum Studies, Serena also held a number of academic management, learning development and research positions at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester (2011 – 2013).

Prior to that, Serena worked in a variety of sectors, including the media (as a multilingual News Editors), in informal learning / social services (as a Youth Worker in Leicester) and in the arts (primarily in marketing or management positions, including at the Bluecoat, an arts centre located in Liverpool). In 2006 she obtained her ‘Laurea Magistrale’ (cum laudem) in Cultural Tourism and Management from the University of Naples ‘Parthenope’ (Italy), having spent a semester (2003-04) at the University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, as an Erasmus student.

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

Serena’s research is located at the intersection of Museum Studies, Cultural Policy and Cultural and Identity Studies. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of contemporary museum policy and practice, and the critical investigation of curatorial approaches in museums, galleries and other institutions engaged in the production, display, and dissemination of art and culture.

Her research interests include:

  • the social purpose of museums and their potential to promote cross-cultural dialogue, inclusion and social justice 
  • the politics and policy of museums, particularly of ethnographic and world culture museums
  • the ideologies and politics of exhibitions and processes of exhibition-making
  • global postcolonial museum and heritage concerns, particularly the impact of colonial, postcolonial and neo-colonial trajectories and globalisation processes on the curation, display and interpretation of ‘non-western’ material culture and (contemporary) art, particularly Arab art, in Europe and in the Global South and their reception 
  • museums and minority identities, particularly sexual and gender minorities
  • the relationship between museums and cultural and diversity policies 
  • the application of collaborative / co-creative approaches to museum work, particularly to curatorial and knowledge-production processes
  • new museum developments in the Gulf region, especially in Qatar, and their role - as well as that of cultural and educational policies - in identity formation and nation-building processes
  • the application of mainstream ‘western’ paradigms and models of curation and interpretation and the procurement of western museum and curatorial expertise outside the 'west'.

Serena welcomes applications for PhD topics related to any of these research interests. For more details, please see her full research profile.

Expertise and Public Engagement

A distinctive feature of Serena’s research and teaching is her commitment to public engagement and the wider dissemination of her academic work. In her career she has worked on the development of a variety of widely accessible outputs, including exhibitions, films and public events.

Serena has led on projects seeking to investigate and exploit the role that the exhibition medium can play in the dissemination of scholarly research, including the AHRC-funded project ‘Research in Translation: Public Engagement through Exhibition Displays’ (which she led with Dr Ceri Jones, University of Leicester). The outputs of this project included an exhibition at the University of Leicester and a number of open access films (for instance this film).

Serena has presented her research to academic and professional audiences as well as to members of the public. In 2015 the University of Leicester’s College of Arts, Humanities and Law awarded Serena one of its annual Doctoral Inaugural Lectures. The lectures are awarded to recent doctoral graduates who are academically outstanding and can present their work in an engaging and accessible way to the wider University and the public. Her lecture entitled ‘Ethnographic Museums in Contemporary Multicultural Europe: From Colonial Repositories to Postcolonial Institutions’ can be viewed here.

In her teaching practice Serena strives to provide students with opportunities to apply their learning to concrete museum, curatorial and arts projects, through developing exhibitions and educational / outreach projects working in partnership with museum and arts professionals. The exhibitions that her students developed were successfully received by members of the public and were often extended due to their popularity with visitors.

Selected Publications

  • Iervolino, S. (forthcoming). ‘Museums, Trans Youth and Institutional Change: Transforming Heritage Institutions through Collaborative Practice’. In S. Watson, A. Barnes, and K. Bunning (eds.) Heritage and Interpretation. Leicester Readers in Museum Studies. Routledge: London and New York.
  • Iervolino, S. and Sandell, R. (2016) ‘The World in One City: Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam’ in Butler, S. R. and Lehrer, E. (eds.) Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions. McGill-Queen’s University Press, pp. 211 – 230.
  • Iervolino, S. (2013). ‘Museums, Migrant Communities and Intercultural Dialogue in Italy’. In V. Golding, and W. Modest (eds.) Museums and Communities: Curators, Collections and Collaboration. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 113-129.
  • Binnie, J., Iervolino, S., Petrov, J., and Tseliou, M. (eds.) (2012). Museological Review. Issue 16.
  • Gestsson, M. and Iervolino, S. (2011). ‘Interpreting Art in the Public Sphere: the Ways Display Locations and Strategies Affect the Meaning of an Artwork’. In Museological Review, Issue 15, pp. 14-29.