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This is an archive site and is not updated. It represents works conducted by Oxford University Museums funded by Arts Council England between 2012-2018. For information about our current work please visit

Staff Conference 2016

On 26 September 2016 staff from across the four Oxford University Museums (Ashmolean Museums, Museum of the History of Science, Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum) gathered for an afternoon of short ‘lightning talks’ about current projects and activities. The aim of the event was to share knowledge, expertise and inspiration between colleagues working across the museums, and advocate for the important role that the museums plan within the university, and beyond. Find out about upcoming exhibitions, community outreach work, behind the scenes collections projects and digital engagement initiatives.

All the talks were filmed to be shared with colleagues who couldn't join us on the day. Check out what you missed below!

Dodo Roadshow - Scott Billings, Digital Engagement Officer, Museum of Natural History

The Dodo Roadshow was a crazy tip-to-tip trip across Britain with one of natural history’s most iconic specimens. Scott talks about how the idea was developed from an initial suggestion around the director’s table to their arrival in John O’Groats barely one month later, having visited collections in 22 museums and galleries along the way.


Transportation-Transformation - Andrew Hughes, Move Project Team Leader, Pitt Rivers Museum

Andrew talks about how a dedicated project team are documenting, photographing, packing and tracking the move of 120,000 objects from the Old Power Station Store, where they have been housed for over 40 years. This is not only a transportation project, but a transformation project, improving access to collections not on display and informing new strategic approaches from display, to conservation, to online collections.


Discussing Penicillin - Marie-Louise Kerr, Penicillin Exhibition Curator, Museum of the History of Science

Marie-Louise talks about Back from the Dead, the Museum of the History of Science's new exhibition (opening November 2016), which explores the history of penicillin in Oxford. She focuses on how the museum's collection and exhibition are being used to support modern university research.


Why community groups work with museums - Nicola Bird, Community Engagement Officer, Oxford University Museums

Nicola discusses how the community engagement team uses the museums and collections to support such services as prisons, probation services, refugee groups, homeless charities, hospitals, mental health charities, etc. She shares how they work with different departments across the museums to make the collections relevant to people’s lives and place them at the heart of the local community.


Cabinet: Integrating Text and Object in Oxford Teaching - Giovanna Vitelli, Director, University Engagement Programme, Ashmolean Museum

Giovanna talks about the Cabinet project, funded by the university’s IT Innovation Fund, which is building an online platform to integrate museum objects into the traditional text-based curricula of a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.


Joint Museums Youth Forum Project - Sarah Lloyd and Carly Smith-Huggins, Education Officers, Oxford University Museums

Education staff from across the museums have been exploring new models for engaging young people and working with them to shape the museums’ offer, under the umbrella of a shared youth forum project. Representatives from the team share learning from the different approaches, and highlight the infectious enthusiasm of young people that have chosen to be in the museums in their free time.


VERVE: Connecting the public with displays at the Pitt Rivers Museum - Beth McDougall & Madeleine Ding, VERVE Team, Pitt Rivers Museum

The VERVE project is a £1.6m, 5 year campaign to conserve and deepen understanding of the Pitt Rivers Museum’s displays, inspiring a significant programme of public engagement. In this talk the team share three VERVE initiatives that aim to create deep public engagement: ‘Meet me at the Museum’, aimed at older people; ‘Pitt Fest’, an annual outdoor celebration; and ‘Museum Takeovers’, which allow young adults to take over the museum.


Memories under the microscope: collaborations between Oxford University Partnership Museums and University of Oxford research departments - Helen Fountain, Reminiscence Officer, Oxford University Museums & Kate Hamblin, Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford Institute for Population Ageing

In 2015 the University of Oxford Institute for Population Ageing made a successful application to the Fell Fund to explore the impact of the Museum of Oxford’s Memory Lane on site reminiscence group on its participants’ wellbeing. This lightening talk covers the collaborative process from early discussions, developing a seminar series, the research process and the final research findings which have been published in a report.


A year in the Zoology Collection - Mark Carnall, Collections Manager (Life Collections), Museum of Natural History

Mark shares his experiences from his first year working in the museum managing the zoology collections, all the teaching, research and other stuff – including the whacky enquiries! Mark shares the surprises and the rewards he’s encountered since joining the Oxford team.


Interacting with Artefacts, Oxfordshire Collections Project - Stephen Barker, Oxfordshire County Council Museums Service

For the current OUMP funded 'Oxfordshire in 50 Objects' exhibition produced by Oxfordshire Museums Services, community partners were asked to choose the artefacts. This presentation highlights two chosen artefacts, why they were chosen and how visitors interact with them.


Quantifying and Mitigating Human Generated Vibration in Museum Exhibits - Daniel Bone, Deputy Head of Conservation, Ashmolean Museum

Daniel outlines the work of a recent OUMP Innovation Fund project setting  up vibration monitoring in showcases at the Ashmolean. The project is in collaboration with Professor Manolis Chatzis, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford.  


Celebrating Diversity: An LGBTQ+ Tour of Oxford University’s Museums and Collections - Beth Asbury, Assistant to the Director and Administration Team, Pitt Rivers Museum

Beth shares an OUMP Innovation Fund project to create a printed trail across the collections providing new perspectives on some of their objects written by volunteers from amongst Oxford’s LGBTQ+ community.  This is a response to a lecture by Professor Richard Parkinson of the Oriental Institute calling for more explicit, not implicit, representations of the LGBTQ+ experience in all museums.


Mobile in Museums - Theodore Koterwas, Mobile Development Team Lead, IT Services

Based in IT Services, Ted and the Mobile Development Team have worked with the museums on half a dozen apps and mobile resources for the visiting public. Ted shares some of the innovative products developed, and share lessons learned.