I have recently (yesterday and today!) been reminded of my dream as a child to be an archaeologist. I was fascinated with the stories of the Egyptians in primary school, then visiting the British Museum and Natural History Museum (many times). This morphed into a fascination with Natural History, volunteering at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle whilst at the University of Cumbria studying Conservation. I considered, and part of me still does yearn for, this as a life pathway.
I can feel what it was like to be amongst the collections in the warren of back rooms in Tullie House. Pulling out drawers filled with wonders, seeing and touching them within. A slightly dusty smell in the air and a muted quiet. Walking through the Spirit collection in the Natural History Museum and getting to know the maze of corridors and rooms. Sometimes quiet, sometimes filled with clamour of families and children. I realise museums have a problematic past that needs to be revealed, discussed and addressed but the child in me found connection where it was otherwise difficult to find.*
Last night we watched Professor Alice Roberts presenting the story of new archaeological finds, growing the story of Stonehenge. There were a few things that resonated with me:
Humans are amazing – the technology used to find and date pre-historical stories is astonishing, clever and inspiring.
The example of reverence within ancient British cultures is endlessly comforting for me. Being committed to celebrating the sun and community in such a profound, devoted way is something we could aspire to as a westernised society. There are those doing this work already, but we need a widespread cultural shift to recognising ourselves (humans) as part of nature, reclaiming and relearning our connection to place.
Natural History beyond museums and archaeology is a core part of my journey and I am also very drawn to Entomology, wildlife surveys (I’m always identifying plants, species) and everything in Nature. This grows within me and proliferates all my work. The header image was taken by me on a field trip in Tanji, the Gambia, in 2012.
- This piece by the Natural History Museum discusses some of these issues
- There have been calls for a new National Museum to “document Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade and its racist legacy.”
- This piece about addressing colonial narratives, post-colonial and decolonial work