Narrating the Diverse Past


Exploring Collections, Archaeology, and Empire – Creating Narratives for Younger Audiences, past, present, future

Histories of collections present an opportunity to present inclusive narratives that are not usually part of museum interpretation. This is particularly true in relation to archaeology collections and histories of imperial collecting.  Recent reports (see Further Reading) have focused on the lack of diversity across many areas – including publishing, children’s literature, and the curriculum.

This workshop examined how collections histories, histories of archaeology, and archaeological artefacts and sites have been presented to children in the past, and explore how new narratives could be presented in museums now and in the future.

The workshop was held on Friday, 11 December 2020, via Zoom.

Exploring Collections, Archaeology and Empire was organised as part of a joint University of Reading and British Museum partnership project, “Narrating the Diverse Past”, currently being undertaken by Dr Amara Thornton (Research Officer, University of Reading).


15.00-15.05 Welcome (Amara Thornton)
15.05-15.20 Sarah Saunders (Head of Learning and National Partnerships, The British Museum) – Current Activities at the British Museum
15.20-15.35 Fiona Melhuish (University of Reading, Special Collections) – Empire and Archaeology in the Children’s Collection
15.35-15.50 Professor Sue Walker (University of Reading, Typography & Graphic Communication) – ‘They lived like this’ books for children: Marie Neurath’s collaboration with museums (Click here to read Sue Walker’s post based on her presentation, and see her slides)
15.50-16.00 Questions
16.00-16.15 Dr Amara Thornton (University of Reading) – Archaeology Books for Children: A Brief History
16.15-16.30 Michelle Keeley-Adamson (MKA Illustrations) – Illustrating Archaeology
16.30-16.45 Dr Katharine Hoare (The British Museum) – Ensuring visual and narrative diversity in educational resources
16.45-16.55 Questions
16.55-17.00 Wrap up