Kostas is Senior Lecturer in Museology at the University of Manchester. Also, he is currently (till June 2023) Research Curator at the Manchester Art Gallery.
Kostas has a MA and PhD in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester and a first degree in History and Archaeology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.
His research interests cross the fields of museology, archaeology, cultural heritage, and digital media. His expertise lies in the area of Digital Heritage that includes the theory and practice of digital technology in museums, galleries and heritage sites. He’s particularly interested in the museology of technology, that is the critical analysis of the use of digital, social and mobile media in museums for purposes of curation, interpretation, evaluation and audience engagement.
Since 2017 Kostas has been working with the Manchester Art Gallery and Archives+ in archiving and researching the material recovered from the spontaneous memorials after the Manchester Arena bombing on 22nd May 2017. This work explores explore conceptual, practical and ethical challenges in archiving spontaneous memorials, including the preparedness of cultural authorities to respond to the timeframe and public expectations of these memorials; issues of public participation; and the expansion of the spontaneous memorialisation on digital and social media. Kostas is also working on the formation of an international community of practice and support network on rapid response, emergency documentation and long-term archiving and use of spontaneous memorials.
Kostas is, also, investigating the viability of the use of collection and visitor data and AI-generated 3D scans of museums and galleries to offer museum staff and audiences opportunities to interact with eXtended Reality (XR) museum spaces, multi-layered content, and avatars of visitors.
He’s also interested in the intersection of heritage activism and digital/social media and, in particular, the role and impact of social media in: the co-production and crowd-sourcing of interpretations of the past; how these interact with notions of authority in cultural professionalism; and the formation and maintenance of (online) communities and networks of interest in cultural heritage. His other research interests include: how museums have collected, interpreted and exhibited everyday life; professionalism in museums and galleries; and the interpretation and communication of archaeological collections and built heritage.
Kostas's research interests cross the fields of museology, archaeology, cultural heritage, and digital media. His expertise lies in the area of Digital Heritage that includes the theory and practice of digital technology in museums, galleries and heritage sites. He is particularly interested in the use of mobile and social media in museums for purposes of curation, interpretation and audience engagement. His other research interests include: archiving and interpretation of spontaneous memorials; how museums have collected, interpreted and exhibited everyday life; professionalism in museums and galleries; and the interpretation and communication of archaeological collections and built heritage.
His current research activity includes:
- Documentating and archiving spontaneous memorials and their use and impact on cultural policy and practice. This focuses on the case of the "Manchester Arena Archive" that includes tangible, intangible and digital material related to the spontaneous memorials after the Manchester Arena bombing on 22nd May 2017. This work explores conceptual, practical and ethical challenges in archiving spontaneous memorials, including the preparedness of cultural authorities to respond to the timeframe and public expectations of these memorials; issues of public participation; and the expansion of the spontaneous memorialisation on digital and social media.
- The XR Museum. Merging physical and virtual interfaces to create eXtended Reality (XR) experiences for cultural audiences: This feasibility project will analyse the viability of the use of collection and visitor data and AI-generated 3D scans of museums and galleries to offer museum staff and audiences opportunities to interact with eXtended Reality (XR) museum spaces, multi-layered content, and avatars of visitors.
- Heritage activism and digital/social media: the role and impact of social media use in: the co-production and crowd-sourcing of interpretations of the past; how these interact with notions of authority in cultural professionalism; and the formation and maintenance of (online) communities and networks of interest in cultural heritage.
Key Research Projects
- 2022 (PI) ‘Therapeutic Impact of Physical, Digital and Virtual Collections of Trauma. A Secondment at the Manchester Art Gallery’. University of Manchester: AHRC, EPSRC, MRC, Impact Acceleration Account (£67,454).
- 2022 (PI) ‘Museum without walls: Using AI, 3D and VR technologies to co-produce immersive experiences for remote museum visitors’, University of Manchester Research Institute (£19,919.65).
- 2021 (PI) Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Port Sunlight Village Trust. Innovate UK (£141,542).
- 2021 (PI) ‘The XR Museum. Merging physical and virtual interfaces to create XR experiences for cultural audiences’. Turing-Manchester Feasibility Project; (£15,923)
- 2018 (PI) ‘Creating, Documenting and Using Archives of Spontaneous Memorials: Building an International Network’. British Academy Small Grant (£9,945).
- 2018 (Partner) ‘Developing, digitising and interpreting the Archive of the Manchester Arena Spontaneous memorials’. Heritage Lottery Fund (£99,700).
- 2017 (PI) ‘Documenting St Ann’s Square’s Spontaneous Memorial of the Manchester Arena Attack’. Faculty of Humanities – Humanities Strategic Investment Fund (£10,348).
- 2016 (PI) 'Public Engagement and Cultural Professionals’ Mentoring in Course Assessment and Feedback’, CHERIL (£16,954).
- 2015 (PI). ‘Developing the Museum of Medicine and Health into a Platform for Public Engagement’, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (£4,955).
- 2014 (CoI). ‘Culture Counts - metrics for the arts: a new approach'. Digital R&D Fund for the Arts: Big Data (£300,000).
- 2014 (PI). ‘Digital Cultural Engagement of Older Audiences’, MICRA and Manchester City Council (£8,821.28).
- 2012 (PI). ‘‘Afterlife’ of Heritage Research: Developing research students’ and Early Careers Researchers’ skills for the transition from academia to public, profession and business’, AHRC (£59,811).
- 2008 (CoI). ‘Digital Heritage Research Training Initiative’. AHRC (£52,512).
Latest Conference Panels
- "Ethics of Care in Collecting Spontaneous Memorials". Remembering/Imaging Terror Conference, University of Birmingham, 14-16 September 2022
- "The role of spontaneous memorials' collections in the memorialisation of terror attacks". Memorial needs and the victims of terrorism Conference, 17 May 2021
- "Can digital archives be emotive? Developing a digital platform for the Manchester Together Archive" (with Jenny Marsden), DCDC, 13th November 2019, Birmingham
- "Collecting and interpreting public grief through material left at large-scale spontaneous memorials", Urgent Collecting Roundtable, 29 October 2019, National September 11 Memorial Museum, New York
- "The “Manchester Together” Archive: co-producing a heritage of memory". In Memory Studies Association Conference, Madrid, 25-28 June 2019
- "Developing a digital archive of a spontaneous memorial: the case of the Manchester Together Archive". In Curating contemporary digital data in museums, University of Graz, 11th February 2019
- “Archiving the spontaneous memorials of the Manchester Arena bombing” (with Amanda Wallace), DCDC, 21st November 2018
- “Documenting and Archiving Spontaneous Memorials: the case of the Manchester Arena bombing”, Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS) Conference 2018, Hangzhou, 1-6thSeptember 2018
- “Collecting the public response to the Manchester Arena bombing”, In The ethics of collecting trauma: what is the role of museums in recording and displaying contemporary events, International Workshop, Doha, 7-9 May 2018
- “Museum Avatars”, The Inclusive Museum Conference, Manchester 15-17 September 2017
- ‘Amphipolis 2.0 Authority, Archaeology and Social Media Activism’, Association of Critical Heritage Studies Conference, Montreal, 6-10 June 2016
- 'Data culture and organisational practice: Using big data sets to assess the quality of cultural work and experiences', Museums and the Web 2016, Los Angeles, CA, USA, 6-9 April 2016
- Managing Editor, Museum and Society Journal
- Society of American Archivists, Member of the Crisis, Disaster, and Tragedy Response Working Group
- Founder of the International Network of Archives of Spontaneous Memorials
- Editorial Review Board Member, SAGE Open
- Peer Reviewer for journals such as Journal of Material Culture, Museum and Society, Culture Unbound, Museology, Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies, Participation, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics
- Visiting Lecturer at the Inter-University Postgraduate Programme in Museology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
- Steering Group, Museum of Medicine and Health, University of Manchester
- Founding Member of CHIMERA (Cultural Heritage, Identity and Memory Research Area) at the University of Manchester
- Founder of the Association of Greek Museologists, Greece
- International Network for Classical Archaeological University Collections
Current PhD Students
Kostas would welcome PhD applications in the following broad areas:
- Spontaneous memorials
- Urgent collecting
- Collecting the 'everyday'
- Digital curating in museums, galleries and heritage environments
- Social media and cultural participation
- Understanding engagement and impact through/of digital media in the museum and heritage sector
- Museum exhibitions in 'non places'
- Archaeological sites as 'open-air museums'
- Archaeological monuments in urban settings
- Archaeological curatorship and museum archaeology
- Interpretation and display of Greek archaeology
- Museum professionalisation
- 2023. Elizabeth Gow. Enriqueta Rylands: the public and private collecting of a Nonconformist bibliophile, 1889-1908 (PhD) (Internal Examiner)
- 2023. Ava Salzer. Presenting the Unknown: Indefinite Objects in Museum Settings and the Implications of Their Interpretation (PhD) (External Examiner)
- 2022. Lukas Hugnes-Noehrer. Artificial Intelligence, Museum Environments and Their Constituents: A Cross-disciplinary Study Using Recommender Systems to Explore Digital Collections (PhD) (Internal Examiner)
- 2020. Chiara Bartolini. An Audience-Oriented Approach to Online Communication in English: The Case of European University Museums' Websites. University of Bologna (PhD) (External Examiner)
- 2019. Shuchen Wang. Atoms and Bits of Cultural Heritage. The Public Use of Dunhuang Collections in Knowledge Making, Nation (Empire) Building, Museum Diplomacy, Cultural Tourism and Digital Economy. Aalto University (PhD) (External Examiner)
- 2019. Lauren Vargas. Understanding digital maturity through data collection and use. University of Leicester (PhD) (External Examiner)
- 2019. Alex McDonagh. Discovering Towneley Park: a digital and multimethod approach to understanding the effects of a digital heritage interpretation of a Lancashire park. University of Salford (PhD) (External Examiner)
- 2016. Nathan Matthews. Spatio-Temporality and Digital Tourism in Industrial UNESCO World Heritage Sites. University of South Wales (PhD) (External Examiner)
- 2015. Genevieve Alelis. Older and Younger Adults’ Interactions with Cultural Heritage Artefacts Outside a Museum. University of Kent (PhD) (External Examiner)
- 2015. Amy Hetherington. Designing for the Post-Millennials: What Assumptions are made by Staff in Museums about Child Digital Literacy when Designing Digital Interactives? University of Leicester (External Examiner)
- 2015. Bronwen Colquhoun. Photography, Knowledge and Communities: The Role of Flickr The Commons in Reimagining and Reappropriating Historic Photographic Collections. Newcastle University (External Examiner)
- 2013. Cristiano Agostino. The Contemporary Digital Museum in Theory and Practice. University of Edinburgh (External Examiner)
- 2013. Halona Norton-Westbrook. Between The 'Collection Museum' and The University: The Rise of the Connoisseur-Scholar and the Evolution of Art Museum Curatorial Practice, 1900-1940. University of Manchester (Internal Examiner)
- 2009. Maria Sklirou. Beyond access initiatives of Greek museums. University of Manchester (MPhil) (Internal Examiner)
Kostas teaches in the MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies. In particular :
- 'Introduction to Museum Studies' (1st semester core course; contributor)
- 'Managing Collections and Exhibitions' (1st semester core course; course convenor and contributor)
- 'Digital Heritage' (2nd semester option course; course convenor and contributor)
Key Student Engagement Initiatives
- Museum of Medicine and Health (since 2015). As part of the 'Managing Collections and Exhibitions' course, MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies students performed a range of collections management, interpretation and exhibition development tasks with objects from the University’s Museum of Medicine and Health (MMH).
- Xtremuseology (since 2011). This extra-curricular initiative is a collaboration with the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery. It aims to encourage students to think critically about museum practices by participating in fun activities that aim to reveal cultural conventions. It has included three cultural flashmobs and an intervention at the Manchester Museum (9 November 2013).
- UniverCity Culture: Mapping Manchester Digitally with University teaching and research (2011). This project (led by Dr Kostas Arvanitis and Dr Abigail Gilmore) used web-based and mobile technologies to digitally annotate Manchester's cultural, historic and heritage environment with information on student projects, dissertations and staff research outputs.
Teaching and Organisational Awards
- 2022. Exceptional Performance Award
- 2021. Winner of the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award in the Humanities Outstanding Staff Awards for Teaching, Learning and Student Experience 2020-21
- 2021. Nomination for an Outstanding Teaching Award in the Faculty of Humanities Outstanding Staff Awards 2020-21
- 2016. Teaching Excellence Award, University of Manchester
Social Responsibility and Cultural Engagement Grants and Projects
- 2023. Collecting and Curating Spontaneous Memorials. Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art / British Art Network Seminar Support. £975
- 2021. Documenting the Cultural Heritage of Trauma, SALC SR and Cultural Engagement Funds 2021-22. £4,975
- 2020. Use of 3D scan in teaching and learning, SALC Cultural Engagement Funds 2020-21. £4,000
- 2019. Humanities Innovation in Teaching, 30 August 2019; £4,988
- 2019. Faculty Engaging with our communities fund. £1,000
- 2019. SALC Social Responsibility Funding. £2,000
- 2019. Faculty SR in the Curriculum fund. £2,000
- 2018. “Trees of Hope: Hybrid ecologies of remembering the Manchester Arena bombing”, SALC Environmental Sustainability; May. £1,050
- 2018. ‘Medical Collection and Exhibibition’, Faculty SR in the curriculum application 2018-19. £2,000
- 2017. ‘Developing Archiving and Cultural Practices of Spontaneous Memorials’, SALC Social Responsibility and Cultural Engagement funding schemes. £2,000
- 2017. VR Game on Sustainability. Faculty SR in the Curriculum. £2,000
- 2017. ‘Medical Collection Development’, Faculty SR in the curriculum application. £2,000
- 2017. Faculty of Humanities, Engaging with our communities funding call 2017-18. £1,500
- 2016. ‘Refugee Crisis’ student project, Faculty of Humanities, ‘Engaging with our communities’. £1,500
- 2016. ‘Refugee Crisis’ student project (exhibition and event), SALC External Relations. £3,000
- 2016. ‘Curating Medical Objects’, Faculty SR in the curriculum application 2016-17. £2,000
- 2016. 'Co-producing a Virtual Reality Immersive Game with university students and museum audiences’, University of Manchester, Learning Enrichment Fund. £4,990
- 2016. 'Art, Digital Culture and Pokemon: Engaging young audiences with animal survival and extinction’, University of Manchester, Environmental Sustainability. £2,000
- 2016. Faculty SR Fund, towards the Professional Practice Project module’s exhibition and event in Chetham’s Library. £800
- 2016. SALC Cultural Engagement Fund, towards the Professional Practice Project module’s exhibition and event in Chetham’s Library. £950
- 2015. Developing the Museum of Medicine and Health into a Platform for Public Engagement. Wellcome Trust. £4,995
- 2014. Social Responsibility in the Curriculum. Faculty of Humanities, University of Manchester. £2,000.
Social Responsibility Awards
- 2021. Social Responsibility Commended Award
- 2018. Making a Difference Commended Award
- 2015. Making a Difference Certificate