Kate Bowell's profile

Kate Bowell

SPS Department

Science, Technology & Innovation Studies

E-Mail Website





PhD in Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies, University of Edinburgh | 2018 - Present

"Narratives on Display: The History of Science and Technology Exhibit Labels at National Museums Scotland"

Supervisors: Dr. Niki Vermeulen, Dr. Lawrence Dritsas, Dr. Tacye Phillipson, Dr. Sam Alberti

Master by Research in Museum & Field Studies, emphasis in Zoology, University of Colorado at Boulder | 2008

"Art in the Ark: The Incorporation and Visitor Response to Fine Art Installations in Zoo and Aquarium Exhibit Spaces"

Supervisor: Dr. Robert Guralnick

BSc in Zoology, University of Guelph | 2005

BA in English Literature, University of Guelph | 2005


Director of Pedagogy, Berlitz Language School, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany | 2013-2018

Founder, Museums Askew Consulting, Edinburgh, UK | 2011-Present

Clients include:

  • Museum Natur & Mensch, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany
  • Madison Science Museum, Madison, WI
  • Town of Windsor Museum at Boardwalk Park, Windsor, CO
  • Warren AFB and ICBM Heritage Museum, Warren Air Force Base, Cheyenne, WY

Research Associate, Denver Zoo, Denver, CO | 2011-2012

Collections Associate, History Colorado, Denver, CO | 2011-2012

Curator of Interpretation, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Fort Collins, CO | 2008-2011

Principle member of the creation of a new multi-disciplinary science and regional history museum and the museum representative for multiple natural-cultural projects throughout Colorado. Projects include:

  • Lead exhibit developer for the natural history exhibits "Wildlands & Wildlife," "Natural Areas," and "Live Animals;" author of interpretive text for "Wildlands & Wildlife"
  • Museum liaison and interpretive developer for Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, home of the Nation Historic Landmark Lindenmeier Archaeological Site 

Collections Associate, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, CO | 2007-2008

Zoology Curatorial Assistant, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder, CO | 2006-2008

Entomologist, Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, Cambridge, ON | 2006

Director of Interpretation, Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, Cambridge, ON | 2005-2006

Awards and Funding

2018 - 2021: Principal's Career Development Scholarship, University of Edinburgh

Research Interests

History of museums Museology History of science and technology Exhibit labels History of exhibitions Narratives of science and technology Museum learning

Research Activities

Current Research

My current research focuses on the ways in which historical science and technology museum exhibit labels can be used as primary resources to construct and contribute to narratives of the histories of museums, labeling practices, and how museums present scientific content to the public. While I work primarily with an archive of exhibit labels from National Museums Scotland, I am also building a resource library of examples of natural history, science, and technology exhibit labels from mutiple museums.

Past Research

Previously, I studied the motivations and results of zoos and aquariums that included fine art installations in live animal exhibit spaces. Specifically, what objectives were the institutions hoping to meet and what messages were they tryingn to convey by incorporating artworks into those spaces, and how did visitors attend to, engage with, and understand those inclusions?

Teaching Experience

Director of Pedagogy - Berlitz Language School, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany | 2013-2018

Museum Educator | 2007-2012

PhD Title

"Narratives on Display: The History of Science and Technology Exhibit Labels at National Museums Scotland"

PhD Supervisors

Dr. Niki Vermeulen

Dr. Lawrence Dritsas

Dr. Tacye Phillipson

Dr. Sam Alberti

PhD Overview

My PhD research works with a historical collection of ~20,000 individual exhibit labels from the Science and Technology Department of National Museums Scotland to examine the ways in which those labels can be used to construct and understand the histories of scientific engagement and labeling culture at National Museums Scotland. Working with the collection and other museum resources, my research explores the potential of these labels to explore questions such as,

  • How useful are exhibit labels as a resource for tracing the history of museum presentation and engagement?
  • How have the stories within labels around specific scientific objects and ideas within the museum changed over time?
  • How can relationships between museum texts, objects, and presentations be understood in exhibit labels?
  • What role do exhibit labels play in constructing scientific knowledge within the museum?
  • How can the text and materiality of exhibit labels be used to construct a history of labeling culture within the museum?
  • How have the multiple technologies that produced the exhibit labels influenced their content and composition?


Bowell, K. 2018. "Object Reincarnation: Imagining a Future Outside the Permanent Collection," in Wood, E., R. Tisdale, and T. Jones (eds.) Active Collections. New York: Routledge, pp 153-161.

Bowell, K. 2016. "Telling Stories with Invisible Objects." Riksutställningar/The Swedish Exhibition Agency. 

Martin, B., K. Bowell, T.T. Bower, and T. Burton. 2009. The Excavation of Lindenmeier: A Folsom Site Uncovered 1934-1940. Fort Collins: Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

K. Bowell and T. Bower. 2009. Trails of Northern Colorado: Exploring Cultural and Natural Heritage. Fort Collins: Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

K. Bowell. Working the Land, Creating a Life: The Early Years at Bobcat Ridge. Fort Collins: Fort Collins Natural Areas.


Bowell, K. 2019. "From machine to man to myth and back again: Representations of James Watt within the exhibit labels of the Boulton and Watt Beam Engine at National Museums Scotland." Rethinking James Watt (1736-1819): Innovation, Culture and Legacy. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Bowell, K. 2019. "From 'indifferent' to 'illustrious:' the narrative of a Boulton and Watt beam engine at National Museums Scotland." Watt a Great Idea! 250 years of ethically curating, interpreting, and operating Watt engines. STICK Annual General Meeting, The Shed, Stirling, UK.

Bowell, K. 2019. "The language of technology contact zones: exhibit labels and the history of public engagement with technology at National Museums Scotland." British Society of the History of Science Postgraduate Conference, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK.

Bowell, K., C. Bown, S. Franke. 2017. "The Role of Cross-Cultural Workers in Supporting Museum Inclusion." Museum Next, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Bowell, K., C. Bown, S. Franke. 2016. "A Cross-Cultural Survival Guide: Succeeding as a Museum Professional in Another Country." Museum Next, Dublin, Ireland.