My PhD project was collaborative by nature and split between the British Library and the University of Leeds. Next to “traditional” academic research it therefore also embraced training and practice in archival and curatorial work. This includes appraising, accessioning, re-packaging, sorting and cataloguing archives, as well as developing successful applications for cataloguing grants. Together with Jonathan Pledge, curator for Politics and Public Life at the British Library, I was working on the born-digital elements of the John Maynard Smith Archive, which are currently uncatalogued. Another exciting outcome was our event “Dear John”. It tells the story of a priority conflict between evolutionary biologists through a dramatic reading of their letters interwoven with a historical discussion of the conflict’s content and context.
I also used to volunteer with the Education Team at the London Canal Museum. The museum not only tells the story of the London waterways but also the history of the ice trade and of ice cream. We lead groups on educational boat trips on the Regent’s Canal and introduce them to history and STEM topics. What was life like on the canal? What is a canal, and why were they built in the first place? Why do some things float and others sink? What are the things engineers have to think about when they build bridges or tunnels? How did the Victorians make ice cream?
My first experiences with museums date back to some front of house experience in January 2015 however. (If we want to go really far back, then we’d have to mention my two-week internship at the town archive of Menden in 2008. Or was it 2007?) In 2015, the project “Sonic Skills”, led by Karin Bijsterveld, officially ended. One of the outcomes was a pop-up exhibition at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in Maastricht. I joined the exhibition as a visitor host, welcoming visitors, demonstrating exhibits as well as overseeing visitors’ engagement with the interactive exhibits.
Later that year, I co-developed an online exhibition together with six fellow graduate students at Maastricht University. As part of our course “Recreating Musical Cultures from the Past”, we each researched a way in which aspects of music – material, immaterial, spatial – were taken from or inspired by the past, re-configured or challenged for contemporary audiences and purposes. Our individual papers formed the basis for the exhibition “Musical Cultures in their Materiality from the Past to the Present”. It highlights the actors and objects we studied, offers historical and critical context, discussion of sound, and reflections on theory and practice.