Museum Lives

“The longer you’re here, the thing you realise is that these are not just objects, they’re peoples’ lives.”

Andy Currant has the last word in a new short video edited by the Museum Lives Team – one of many ‘’ being celebrated at a major conference at the Royal Society.

60 years of Museum history

Museum Lives is a new oral history project recording stories about curators and collections at the Natural History Museum. Staff from the past 60 years are sharing what it is like to work at one of the world’s great museums and revealing life behind the scenes.

Fish curator, Patrick Campbell

About the project

This 3-year collaboration between Kingston University and the Natural History Museum is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Among the stories are:
  • personal memories
  • stories about the collection and individual specimens
  • tales from Museum expeditions
  • the Museum’s history
  • working life before and during the Second World War
  • changing approaches to exhibitions
Various reptile specimens stored in spirit in the Museum's Darwin Centre

Museum Lives is capturing the human stories about museum collections, how specimens were acquired, cared for and used in science.

Applying best oral history practice, the project is also developing new approaches, linking video clips about collections with the Museum’s collections management database.

A resource for visitors, staff and researchers

Mounting botanical specimens

Memories of every aspect of life at the Museum will create an archive for visitors and staff to enjoy and learn from. The resource will be of historical and scientific interest to researchers across many disciplines. 

What's next?

We are continuing to interview staff across all Museum departments. The Museum Lives website is in development and will feature clips from the interviews alongside a number of short films about the museum, its staff and the collections. 

3-year collaboration between Kingston University and the Natural History Museum is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

In partnership with
Funded by
Richard Lane

Professor Richard Lane, Previous Director of Science at the Museum, says:

‘Many of our senior researchers and curators have decades of experience in managing the national collection of 70 million natural history specimens, and using it to engage the public. 

'This project gives us additional tools with which to preserve this knowledge and share it with a much wider audience. Visitors and the wider public will get a new insight into the life and work of the Natural History Museum.’

Would you like to get involved?

We welcome suggestions of current or retired members of Museum staff who could be interviewed for the project. 

Please email the Project Coordinator if you would like to suggest someone, or if you are a member of staff (past or present) who would like to take part as an interviewee or interviewer.

Project team

Nadja Noel
Museum Lives Project Coordinator
Natural History Museum
Email

Julie Harvey
Museum Lives Project Liaison
Natural History Museum

Professor Brian Cathcart
Museum Lives Principle Investigator
Kingston University