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The transcription of each episode is available on YouTube.
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On June 22, 2020, Zey Kussan and I co-hosted Museum Hour. Our topic was: Furlough (given leave of absence from your job). What an evening! Hundreds of replies flooded in from everyone who took part and there were also private DMs from people who didn’t want to share their experiences publicly. So many of the responses, often deeply personal and thoughtful as well as funny and light-hearted, resonated with me and my experience of furlough.
In this week’s Coffee & Catch Up, I chat to Dan Vo, founder of the award-winning LGBTQ+ volunteer-led tours at the V&A. Dan tells me how a cup of Vietnamese coffee sets him up for a day of beaming museum-related joy into our lives. While lockdown was an unexpected and challenging time for everyone working in the museum sector, Dan took this opportunity and transformed it into a beacon of sunshine for all of us with his daily #MuseumFromHome Twitter interviews. This series was such a success that the BBC partnered up with him and Sacha Coward for a whole day of Museum From Home as part of their Culture in Quarantine programming during Lockdown.
In Episode 14, I speak to Dan Vo, Founder of the award-winning LGBTQ+ volunteer-led tours at the V&A and he has since developed similar programmes for the University of Cambridge Museums and Amgueddfa Cymru: National Museum Wales. One of the key points in this episode is that everybody has the opportunity to make change. At the centre of Dan’s approach in making change is story-telling. The best stories are the ones that get people listening, get people engaged and involved. Stories are always at the heart and that always comes back to the people who are included in these stories. Greater understanding enhances the storytelling.
Today, I’m chatting to Margot Finn, Professor of Modern British History at UCL and President of the Royal Historical Society. Margot tells me about the two new schemes that the Royal Historical Society have set up to help UK-based early career researchers (ECRs) in History and also a new post-doctoral position to support and continue the Society’s equalities work, with an especial focus on race and ethnicity.
For this episode, I chatted to Thanh Sinden, Chair of the Museum Detox Executive Committee, and museum consultant. We talked about work, family and health, as well as a recent Museum Detox survey about the impact lockdown had on its members, and the Museum Detox Hardship Fund – to which people from across the sector have donated so generously.
I spoke to Gaylene Gould, Creative Director of The Space to Come and coach. I drew on her coaching expertise in this episode. The question I put to Gaylene was: How do we go about planning in an environment of almost total uncertainty on every possible level? Her answer was helpful and inspiring.
This is the second episode of Coffee and Catch Up. Today, I’m chatting to Sara Wajid, Head of Engagement at the Museum of London. We talked about taking long walks, looking at beautiful flowers and getting through this time as best we can – one piña colada ice lolly at a time! She also talks about how her decolonial work continues during lockdown, including discussions about gender equality in the museum sector with fellow feminists in the Space Invaders network.
After a sudden, scary lockdown, I wanted to check in on the lovely people I interviewed in Season 1. For the first episode of Coffee & Catch Up, I caught up with Subhadra Das, Curator of the Science Collections at UCL and part-time freelancer.
I hope you enjoy this lighthearted break from the world.
In Episode 8, I catch up with Arike Oke, Director of the Black Cultural Archives. Arike talks about the BCA’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests; the Stories of Black Leadership II: Breaking Barriers exhibition that is now online; and the series of online events in recognition of the annual Windrush Day (June 22) that the BCA has brought together.
In Episode 7, I speak to Arike Oke, Director of the Black Cultural Archives. We talk about the people-centred core values that Arike brings to her work and the resilience required to push forward a challenging agenda of change to an organisation.
After the amazing reception for Season 1 of the podcast, we have decided to enter the British Podcast Awards!! We are compiling a 15-minute segment of the best clips from Season 1 and we would love your help. Let us know what your favourite clips are @TheWonderHouse and we will put them together as part of our submission. We would love this process to be as interactive as possible!
In Episode 6, I speak to Margot Finn, Professor of Modern British History at UCL and President of the Royal Historical Society (‘RHS’) about the RHS Race, Ethnicity and Equality Report in UK History: A Report and Resource for Change (2018) that she initiated and championed as President of this Society in collaboration with fellow historians through the Society’s Race, Ethnicity, Equality Working Group. I also take the opportunity to discuss Margot’s previous project – The East India Company at Home, 1757-1857 – which explored ‘how empire in Asia shaped British country houses, their interiors and the lives of their residents’.
In Episode 5, I speak to Dr Sadiah Qureshi, Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Birmingham, about two recent projects that she has been working on, as well as her fascinating current research. 1) the Royal Historical Society’s Race, Ethnicity & Equality Report; 2) NPG exhibition George Catlin: American Indian Portraits; 3) Sadiah’s book Peoples on Parade; 4) forthcoming book on Extinction.
In Episode 4, I speak to Rachael Minott (@RachaelMinott), Inclusion and Change Manager at The National Archives, board member of the Museums Association and visual artist working on Jamaican national representation as a form of artistic exploration. We talk about how Rachael’s artistic practice informs her curatorial work, including in the recent exhibition ‘The Past Is Now’ (2017) held at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
In Episode 3, I speak to Sara Wajid (@Waji35), Head of Engagement at the Museum of London, about her sector-changing approach to ‘The Past Is Now’ (2017) exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the incredible alchemy that results when you bring together powerful, innovative storytelling and experimentation into a museum.
In Episode 2, I speak to Miranda Lowe (@NatHistGirl), Principal Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Natural History Museum. We talk about Miranda’s work unearthing stories about the important contributions that people of colour have made to the study of natural history and science, as well as associated collecting and collections, over the centuries… and so much more!
Subhadra has kindly let us share the first Episode of Bricks + Mortals on The Wonder House: ‘Stopes is celebrated as a feminist icon and champion for birth control. Her eugenic motivations, however, are less well known‘.
To kick off the new podcast series, I speak to Subhadra Das (@LittleGaudy), Curator of the Science Collections at UCL. Subhadra is doing some really exciting work re-assessing UCL’s scientific and natural history collections and bringing them to wider public knowledge in new and innovative ways – from not-so-traditional exhibitions and gallery interventions, to stand-up comedy shows.
Presenter/Producer – Sushma Jansari @TheWonderHouse
Producer – Nick Harris @2ndThoughtTank
Artwork – Aleesha Nandhra @AleeshaNandhra