Dr Rachel Souhami

PhD research

My research seeks to develop a theorisation of exhibitions as a medium of communication in order to investigate how the elements of an exhibition combine to present a subject. In doing so, I ask what it is about the current normative nature of exhibition design and development that might help or hinder the creation of reflexive exhibitions. I am drawing on literary, film and architectural theories to develop my analytical framework, which I am applying to three case studies of recent redisplays of collections in national museums: Tate Modern, the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum, and the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art at the V&A.


I was a curator for many years, working for museums and exhibition design companies as well as undertaking consultancy work. In 2001 I was awarded a three-year fellowship from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) in order to investigate how to develop an exhibition that reflected on the nature of science from philosophical and sociological perspectives. It was this work that led me to undertake my PhD.