Public engagement fellows

Duration: 2017 – 2021

Working closely with V&A conservators, curators, collections management professionals and learning/interpretation specialists, the public engagement fellows develop innovative practices aimed at activating any part of the Museum collections not currently on display, including new acquisitions.

Combining research, agile and responsive teaching, interdisciplinary collaboration, documentation, curation and communication, the fellows focus on dormant holdings to model new ways of opening up the collections to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Under-researched areas of the collections will be mobilised through a variety of experimental strategies – object-focused events ranging from live music and performances, through participatory games, to demonstrations and lecture-series – designed to bring the collections to life in innovative ways. These might include 'open house' sessions designed to bring objects to the attention of the public; focused university engagement programmes promoting object-based learning and fostering course collaborations across departments; interdisciplinary symposia and postgraduate workshops; practice-based research and collaborative making projects; community-led study and activity days.

Improved engagement with targeted hidden collections will in this way diversify our methods for offering access to objects and also enable the museum to enhance through co-creation the bodies of knowledge we hold about collections materials.

Public Engagement Fellows

Dr Georgia Haseldine, VARI/V&A East Public Engagement Fellow, 2020 – 2021

Dr Georgia Haseldine is leading the V&A’s The Question of Clay research project in collaboration with renowned Chicago-based artist and VARI Emeritus Fellow, Theaster Gates. The Question of Clay explores the history, significance and meaning of clay and ceramics, and innovative ways of opening up the V&A’s collections to new audiences.

Drawing on her research with Theaster, Georgia has also developed the community research project, Brickfield Newham, where local communities and students from the University of East London are researching histories of housing and dwelling in the borough of Newham through brick making and performance making. The project has been devised with the University of East London as part of a long-term creative partnership, and in collaboration with Brickfield, a community brick-making project from St Austell in Cornwall for Newham Heritage Month.

Alongside Grace Barrett, founder of I AM ALLY, Georgia is also working with the V&A Wedgwood collection to develop a new anti-racism schools programme. They aim to re-interpret Josiah Wedgwood’s anti-slavery medallion, and create a new medallion for the 21st-century.

Dr Hannah Young, Early Career Public Engagement Fellow, 2018

Dr Hannah Young transitioned from archival to object-based research and in her role as a Public Engagement Fellow with VARI, sought to uncover some of the unexplored histories of the V&A. In particular, Hannah investigated some of the links between slave-ownership and the development of the museum.