We are pleased to announce the programme and speaker biographies for the upcoming symposium

Making Visible the Storeroom: Creative Responses to Museums and Archives ‘Behind the Scenes’

For more information on the event, please CLICK HERE

This hybrid event will take place online and in person at the University of Brighton’s City Campus on May 12 2023, 1pm-6.30pm. Online tickets can be reserved here: ONLINE TICKETS


from 12:30      Registration

1:15                 Welcome, Dr Claire Wintle

1:30                 Screening of a so-called archive by Onyeka Igwe

with a response by Dr Nicola Ashmore, Principal Lecturer in History of Art, University of Brighton

2:00                 ‘Museum Storage and Repatriation: Exploring opportunities’, Dr Mirjam Brusius, Research Fellow in Colonial and Global History, German Historical Institute London and Editor, 100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object

2:20                 ‘Community, locality, and collections in the spaces of the museum storeroom’, Dr Alison Hess, Lecturer in Museum and Gallery Studies, University of Westminster

2:40                 Lyric Essay: ‘Dead Letter Office: The Oneiric Appeal of the Unseen’, Craig Jordan Baker, Writer and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Brighton

with a response by Zara Arshad, PhD Candidate, University of Brighton

3:10                 Break and Refreshments

3:30                 ‘Dust, Silverfish, and Ariadne’s Thread: Artistic Visions of Filerooms and Archives’, Professor Rebecca M. Brown, Chair in the History of Art, Johns Hopkins University

4:00                 ‘Reimagining the Archive: Unveiling public collections through contemporary art practice’, Michael Takeo Magruder, Artist

4:30                 Break

4:45                 Roundtable

with Sue Breakell, Principal Research Fellow and Director of the University of Brighton Design Archives

Professor Rebecca M. Brown, Johns Hopkins University

Suchi Chatterjee, Curating for Change Fellow, Historic Dockyard Chatham/Brighton & Hove Black History Cultural Heritage Network

Michael Takeo Magruder 

Dr Helen Mears, Head of Curatorship & Research, Royal Museums Greenwich

chaired by Dr Claire Wintle

5:45                 Keynote: ‘Open Storage at the V&A East’ Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, Director, V&A East

6:15                 Concluding Remarks, Professor Rebecca M. Brown, Johns Hopkins University

6:30                 Close


Speaker Biographies 

Zara Arshad, University of Brighton/Victoria and Albert Museum (she/her) 

Zara Arshad is a researcher and curator interested in twentieth- and twenty first-century material and visual culture, liminal spaces, speculative histories, and design futures. She has previously held roles at: Asia Culture Center in South Korea, Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), Design History Society UK, Beijing Design Week and Icograda World Design Congress Beijing. Currently, Arshad is a doctoral researcher based at the University of Brighton and V&A; a university lecturer; co-founder of the studio Geofictions with media artist Yaloo; and a Governing Board Member of 爻 yáo collaborative (formerly China Residencies).


Dr Nicola Ashmore, University of Brighton (she/her)

Nicola Ashmore is a Principal Lecturer in Art and Design History. Her research and curatorial interests include collective remakings of Picasso’s Guernica for social change and creative practices for sustainable international development. She is committed to working collaboratively and developing international networks of artists and institutions interested in progressing the use of arts and culture for social change. 

Nicola has made use of film documentary and digital technologies as research methodologies, investigating collaborative art practices and site-specific creative interventions within and beyond museum settings.


Sue Breakell, University of Brighton Design Archives (she/her)

Sue Breakell is Archive Director and Principal Research Fellow at the University of Brighton Design Archives, and co-leads the Museums, Archives, Exhibitions strand of the University’s Centre for Design History. As a visual arts archivist, she formerly worked in UK national museums: at Tate, where most recently she was head of Tate Archive, and at Imperial War Museums where she was War Artists Archivist and then the institution’s first Museum Archivist. Her research bridges critical archive studies, twentieth century art and design history and material culture. She is co-editor, with Wendy Russell, of The Materiality of the Archive: Creative Practice in Context (Routledge, forthcoming August 2023). https://research.brighton.ac.uk/en/persons/sue-breakell


Professor Rebecca M. Brown, Johns Hopkins University (she/her)

Rebecca M. Brown is Professor and Chair of the Department of the History of Art and Chair of the Advanced Academic Programs in Museum Studies and Cultural Heritage Management. Brown’s research engages in the history of art, architecture, and visual culture of South Asia from the late eighteenth century to the present. 

She has published numerous articles and three books on the early British presence on the subcontinent, the anti-colonial movement of the early twentieth century, art in the decades after India’s independence in 1947, and the economic and political machinations of the long 1980s. Her current research focuses on the painter KCS Paniker (1911–77) and his use of illegible writing on his paintings from the 1960s and 1970s. She is also working on the photographic practice of Dayanita Singh and Annu Matthew, as well as the work of Rina Banerjee.  

She has served as a consultant and a curator of modern and contemporary Indian art for the Peabody Essex Museum, the Walters Art Museum, and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, and has taught across North America and in the UK. 


Dr Mirjam Brusius, German Historical Institute, London/Editor, 100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object (she/her)

Mirjam Brusius is a historian of science and colonialism. She gained her PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the circulation of objects and images in and between Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia; from the movement of ancient artefacts in indigenous contexts in the Ottoman Empire and Persia into the racial hierarchies and archives of Western museums, to the trajectories of photographic technologies out of Europe and into the Islamicate world. She held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University, the University of Oxford, KHI Florence, and MPIWG in Berlin. As a visiting fellow she worked with collaborators in Sydney, Melbourne, New Delhi, Mumbai, Tehran, New York City, and Accra, where in 2021 she was co-Principal Investigator of the Interdisciplinary Fellows Group ‘The 4R (Restitution, Return, Repatriation and Reparation). Reality or Transcultural Aphasia?’ at the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a member of Museum Detox and the Global Young Academy. In 2022 she won the prestigious Dan David Prize. Combining historical research with curatorial approaches, Mirjam co-founded 100 Histories in Kingston in 2019.


Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, OBE, Director of V&A East/Professor of Practice, SOAS, University of London (he/him) 

Gus Casely-Hayford is the inaugural Director of V&A East, appointed in March 2020. He is a curator and cultural historian who writes, lectures and broadcasts widely on culture, having presented a number of series for Sky, BBC radio and television and other channels. Formerly Executive Director of Arts Strategy, Arts Council England, and Ex-Director of the Institute of International Contemporary Art, he has offered leadership to both large and medium scale organizations including the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. He has served on the boards of many cultural institutions, including the National Trust and the National Portrait Gallery. Gus has lectured widely on culture, including periods at Sotheby’s Institute, Goldsmiths, Birkbeck, City University, University of Westminster and SOAS. He has advised national and international bodies on heritage and culture including the United Nations and the Canadian, Dutch and Norwegian Arts Councils. In 2005 he deployed these leadership, curatorial, fundraising, communications skills to organize the biggest celebration of Africa Britain has ever hosted when more than 150 organizations put on over 1000 exhibitions and events. 

Gus gained a PhD from SOAS and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship. He is a Cultural Fellow of King’s College London, a Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, a Board Member of the Creative Industries Federation and a Trustee of the Karun Thakur Foundation. Gus is also a member of the Art Mills Museum Scientific Committee and the English Heritage Blue Plaques Committee. Gus was awarded an OBE in 2018.


Suchitra Chatterjee, Historic Dockyard Chatham/Brighton & Hove Black History Cultural Heritage Network (she/her) 

Suchitra Chatterjee’s BA Hons at Sussex University in 1992 was in American History with an emphasis on Black History and slavery in the South experience. She did a year abroad at Spelman, the Black Women’s college, which resulted in a short thesis on the peculiarity of “Racial Passing, and its Ramifications in the 20th Century.” Upon graduation she worked in the community sector in an advocacy capacity, then in 2000 became a Hate Crime Co-Ordinator. She has also volunteered for the Brighton & Hove Black History Project in a research capacity since 2004.   

Suchitra is involved in in-depth research into the Sussex’s rich and diverse past. She was fortunate enough to work on such projects as a Fragments in Time, short guide to the history of BAME police in the UK, (2012) Black Georgians BCA, (2016) Fashion City Africa (2016/2017), Thomas Highflyer Grave Restoration  (2018), Three Kings in Brighton, (2021) which was built on a previous AHRC-funded research project ‘Making African Connections from Sussex and Kent Museums’ with Sussex University and Brighton Museum (2016). In 2021 a report was published, Making African Connections: Decolonial Futures for Colonial Collections to which she contributed in her research capacity.  

Suchitra’s areas of interest are diverse within a historical context but since working on the Thomas Highflyer project Suchitra has been drawn to the age of sail and its link to slavery. She left a job to pursue an MA in Curating Collections and Heritage in Brighton University alongside a City and Guilds Art Course (Level 1) at the Adult Education Hub in Brighton. This resulted in her applying for the Accentuate for Change Fellowship and one of the 18-month placements was with the Chatham Historic Dockyard where she is now. 


Dr Alison Hess, University of Westminster (she/her)

Alison Hess’ research primarily focuses on museum storage, and how it can be used as a location for dynamic, meaningful interactions between the public, artists and researchers, and historic objects. Alison has also written on the role of emotion in museum collections including in her paper ‘Object-love at the Science Museum: cultural geographies of museum storerooms’ (2015) and in a more recent co-edited volume on Exploring Emotion, Care, and Enthusiasm in “Unloved” Museum Collections (2020). Alison worked for many years in the Collections team for the Science Museum Group, and before joining the University of Westminster, led on research and collections access for SMG’s new National Collections Centre (opening Spring 2024).


Onyeka Igwe (she/her) 

Onyeka Igwe is a London-born and based moving image artist and researcher. Her work is aimed at the question: how do we live together? Not to provide a rigid answer as such, but to pull apart the nuances of mutuality and co-existence in our deeply individualized world. Onyeka’s practice figures sensorial, spatial and counter-hegemonic ways of knowing as central to that task. She is interested in the prosaic and everyday aspects of black livingness. For her, the body, archives and narratives – both oral and textual – act as a mode of enquiry that makes possible the exposition of overlooked histories. 

Solo exhibitions include A Repertoire of Protest (No Dance, No Palaver), MoMA PS1, New York (2023), The Miracle on George Green, The High Line, New York, USA (2022), a so-called archive, LUX, London, UK and THE REAL STORY IS WHAT’S IN THAT ROOM, Mercer Union, Toronto, Canada (2021), There Were Two Brothers, Jerwood Arts (2019), and Corrections, with Aliya Pabani, Trinity Square Video, Toronto, Canada (2018).

Onyeka has an upcoming solo exhibition at The Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, in January 2024.


Dr Craig Jordan-Baker, University of Brighton (he/him)

Craig Jordan-Baker is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton, who studied Creative Writing before going on to obtain a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Sussex. His first novel The Nacullians is a non-linear narrative focussing on the lives of three-generations of a working-class Anglo-Irish family which the Irish Times called, ‘a multi-layered treatise on memory and the stories we tell ourselves’. His second book If the River is Hidden is a non-fiction collaboration with Irish poet Cherry Smyth about their 2021 pilgrimage along the Bann, Northern Ireland’s longest river and will feature prominently in this year’s Belfast Book Festival and the Southbank Centre’s Irish poetry showcase. Craig’s research interests concern psychogeography and the representation of landscape, and he is currently co-editing (with Dr Philippa Holloway) Writing Landscape and Setting in the Anthropocene – Britain and Beyond (Palgrave).


Michael Takeo Magruder (he/him) 

Michael Takeo Magruder (b.1974, US/UK, www.takeo.org) is a visual artist and researcher whose practice utilises Information Age technologies and systems to examine our networked, media-rich world. His art has been shown in over 300 exhibitions in 35 countries, and has received extensive support within the UK, US and EU. Michael’s recent projects include Imaginary Cities – a solo exhibition creatively exploring digital maps drawn from the British Library’s One Million Images from Scanned Books collection on Flickr Commons. In 2020, he was the first ever artist-in-residence at the UK National Archives where he reflected upon the institution’s ongoing digital transformation and what constitutes an archive in the 21st century. At present, Michael is virtual artist-in-residence at the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion in Washington, DC where he is investigating social and ethical issues surrounding the Covid-19 crisis.


Dr Helen Mears, Royal Museums Greenwich (she/her) 

Helen Mears is the Head of Curatorship & Research at Royal Museums Greenwich. Previously she held the role of Keeper of World Art at Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Her research interests are in the intersections between contemporary diaspora communities and colonial-era museum collections, participatory practice and decolonial agendas. 


Conference Staff

Joshua Boyle (they/them)

Josh is a Senior Research Support Assistant for this conference and is currently studying the MA Curating Collections and Heritage at University of Brighton part-time. Previously to this they completed a BA (Hons) War, Conflict and Modernity at Brighton with a dissertation on “Why authenticity matters in historical reenactment”. Current research interests include the Netherlands reconciliation of the Holocaust Post-War, labour history and postcolonial theory. They are looking forward to engaging with speakers and delegates at the conference.

@MuseumCritical  https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshua-boyle-b1b466195/

Cara Gathern (she/her)

Cara Gathern is a doctoral researcher at the University of Brighton, funded by Techne Doctoral Training Partnership. Her main area of research is representations of the female testament in ‘Lucretia’ rape depictions originating from the early modern period, both in literature and in visual imagery. She is currently a Senior Research Support Assistant for the ‘Making Visible the Storeroom’ International Symposium (University of Brighton) and the ‘Creating, Curating and Consuming the Archive’ project at the University of Brighton, which is funded by the National Archives Testbed fund. She has previously completed a six-month work placement with the research and curatorial team at Historic Royal Palaces.

Dr Claire Wintle (she/her)

Claire is Principal Lecturer in Museum Studies and the History of Design at the University of Brighton, UK. Her research focuses on the relationship between museums, collections, empire and decolonisation. She co-directs the University’s Centre for Design History, and her publications include Colonial Collecting and Display (Berghahn, 2013), Cultures of Decolonisation (Manchester UP, 2016, edited with Ruth Craggs) and Histories of Exhibition Design in the Museum: Makers, Process and Practice (edited with Kate Guy and Hajra Williams, Routledge, forthcoming). She is currently the recipient of an AHRC Networking Grant (‘Making Museum Professionals, 1750-Present’, with Kate Hill, University of Lincoln), and an AHRC Digital Pilot Skills Large Grant with Karina Rodriguez Echavarria, University of Brighton.