Research. Curiouser and curiouser.
My research inquiries are led by my curiosity and my interest in what it means to be curious, to be interested, and to wonder. In particular, I am fascinated with the notion of lived experience and what happens when we consider the fuller, more holistic experiences of museum visitors—what they are thinking, feeling, doing, experiencing-all at once. These inquiries often result from my own wondering about assumptions and things we take for granted.
As a part of this, I have always been fascinated with universals and foundational questions. What makes us human? What do I share with someone on the other side of the earth, or from a different time? For that reason, I am interested in finding out similarities and differences of common museum activities and how they manifest in different places and cultures across the world. At the same time, I am in awe of the fact that each person is a unique individual, with a particular accumulation of experiences and encounters and a way of seeing the world that is only his or her own. The research I do tends to start with these underlying foundations—asking what all humans share but also exploring individual differences.
My research agenda specifically convenes around human experience with physical (museum) objects—especially with respect to emotion, perception, sensation, and spirituality—and the conceptual foundations of museums as systems. I have done research on numinous experiences with museum objects, imaginative touch (of museum objects), user perceptions of ‘the real thing’ in museums, contemplative practices in museums, museums as ecological systems, and conceptual ramifications of museum object as document. Most recently, I have been working on developing Positive Museology, positioning museums as centers of meaning-making from a positive (not positivist) point of view.
What Others are saying: The Objects of Experience, with Wood and Latham on Latham's Numinous Experiences article
A Selection of Research Publications
Human relationships with objects.
Latham, K.F. (2016). Psychological flow and the numinous museum experience. University of Michigan Museum Studies Working Papers in Museum Studies, Series, 11.
Latham, K.F. (2015). What is the real thing in the museum? An interpretative phenomenological study. Museum Management & Curatorship, 30(1), 2-20.
Latham, K.F. (2014). Experiencing documents. Journal of Documentation, 70(4), 544-561.
Wood, E. & Latham, K.F. (2013). The objects of experience: Transforming visitor-object encounters in museums. Walnut Creek, CA.: Left Coast Press.
Wood, E. & Latham, K.F. (2009). Object knowledge: Researching objects in the museum experience. Reconstruction, 9(1).
Lived experience, lifeworld, and phenomenology.
Gorichanaz, T., Latham, K.F., & Wood, E. (2018). Lifeworld as a unit of analysis. Journal of Documentation, 74(4), 880-893. [Awarded Outstanding Paper in Journal of Documentation.]
Wood, E. & Latham, K.F. (2011). The thickness of things: Exploring the museum curriculum through phenomenological touch. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 27(2), 51-65.
Gorichanaz, T., Vamanu, I., Latham, K. F., & Suorsa, A. (2016). Here’s to the things themselves: Outcomes of a discussion panel on phenomenology in LIS [short communication].
Gorichanaz, T. & Latham, K.F. (2016). Document phenomenology: A framework for holistic analysis. Journal of Documentation, 72(6), 1114-1133.
Latham, K.F. (2016). Jungles, rabbit holes, and wonderlands: Comparing conceptions of museality and document. In Proceedings from the Document Academy [special issue], 3(1).
Latham, K.F. (2012). Museum object as document: Using Buckland’s information concepts to understand museum experiences. Journal of Documentation, 68(1), 45 - 71.
Latham, Kiersten F. (2016). The curious case of floating fixity (and its relationship to authenticity). In Proceedings from the Document Academy, 3(2), Article 2.
Lund, N.W., Gorichanaz, T., & Latham, K.F. (2016.) A discussion on document conceptualization, Proceedings from the Document Academy, 3(2), Article 1.
Kearns, J. & Latham, K.F. (2016). Exploring fixity. In Proceedings from the Document Academy, 3(2), Article 14.
Skare, R. and Latham, K. F. (2016). Tromsø and Documentation Studies: 20 Years Young (Editorial). In Proceedings from the Document Academy, 3(1), Article 1.
Latham, K.F. and Iannaggi, C.M. (2014). An (un)session: A copy of a fake of the identical facsimile reproduced from the real original. In Proceedings from the Annual Meeting of the Document Academy, 1, Article 5.
Spirit in the museum context.
Latham, K.F. (2013). Numinous experiences with museum objects. Visitor Studies, 16(1), 3-20.
Latham, K.F. (2009). Numinous experiences with museum objects. (Doctoral dissertation). School of Library & Information Management, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS.
Latham, K.F. (2007). The poetry of the museum: A holistic model for numinous museum experiences. Museum Management and Curatorship, 22(3).
Latham, K.F. (in press, 2018). The wonders of the Augsburg Cabinet: Three ways of experiencing a document. In Proceedings from the Document Academy.
Latham, K.F., Gorichanaz, T. and Narayan, B. (2018). Encountering the muse: An exploration of the relationship between inspiration and information in the museum context. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/0961000618769976
Gorichanaz, T. & Latham, K.F. (2019). Contemplative Aims for Information. Information Research, 24(3), paper 836. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/24-3/paper836.html
Latham, K.F. (2018, November 15). The character strengths and virtues of museums [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.themuselab.org/single-post/2018/11/15/The-Character-Strengths-and-Virtues-of-Museums
Latham, K.F. (2018, September 15). The slow museum movement [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.themuselab.org/single-post/2018/09/15/The-Slow-Museum-Movement
Latham, K.F. (2018, August 15) Do we need Positive Museology? [Blog post]. Retrieved from