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Welcome to the team, Laura!

Posted on 19/01/2018
Beth Wilkey

We’re kicking off our first blog post of 2018 with a huge welcome to our new team member, Dr Laura Newman, post-doctoral research assistant!

Laura is joining us fresh from her PhD, a collaboration between the Science Museum and King’s College London, looking at occupational histories of infection control from 1880 to 1940. Her research focuses primarily on material cultures of scientific education, and her work on the Mobile Museum project will help examine the pedagogical uses of economic botany specimens in British schools.

Laura will be looking specifically at the history of the school museum and object-based learning, c.1880-1920, a subject which is central to the project since Kew dispersed thousands of objects to hundreds of schools across the UK which set up their own museums during this period. We are lucky to have archival sources documenting Kew’s relationship with schools – through the exit registers which record all distributions, to three bound volumes of correspondence from teachers requesting material for educational purposes. We look forward to sharing more soon with a blog from Laura.

This year is a big one for the project as we take the data we gathered in Year 1, and begin to delve deeper into object trajectories. We’ll be going on several research trips, including to the United States and Australia and will be holding our first workshop in May, with representatives of economic botany collections linked with Kew. The project is also convening a series of seminars by researchers and curators on the mobility of collections, both natural and cultural, held at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

Another exciting strand of the project will be working with the Learning team at Kew and local schools, to recreate a ‘school museum’ – exactly like the ones created with Kew specimens in the past. We’ll keep you updated on the blog throughout the year!

We’re also keen to hear from you if you’d like to guest blog for us. If you have economic botany in your collections (particularly if some of it was donated from Kew) we would be very happy to speak to you! All contact should be directed to mobilemuseumkew.org in the first instance.


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