Natural History Collections Between Science and Empire, a conversation between Subhadra Das and Miranda Lowe

Eugen Fischer's Hair Colour Gauge; © UCL Culture
The Law of Frequency of Error illustrated by cress seeds; © UCL Culture
Galton’s Anthropometric Laboratory at the International Health Exhibition, 1884; © UCL Culture

As part of the Genetic Automata exhibition programme, join us for an evening in-conversation with curators Subhadra Das and Miranda Lowe.

 
Inspired by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy's new installation and its reference to the relationship between Darwin and his taxidermy teacher John Edmonstone, a freed slave, together Das and Lowe will reflect on the invisible stories that exist within natural history collections. How can such narratives help us unpack the relationship between the development of science and the Empire? What is the role of the museum in unraveling such narratives? And how have the roles of non-white people been portrayed to date in the context of science and its institutions? 
 
On the basis of the museum being both a repository for objects and specimens and as a a site of cultural production and reproduction, the curators will consider the advantages of embracing a cultural and historical approach to interpreting natural history collections, rather than one that is exclusively rooted in science.
 
Tickets are £5, booking essential.
 
Subhadra Das is a historian, history of science communicator, comedian, writer and museum curator at UCL Culture where she works with the UCL Pathology and Science Collections. She regularly talks to diverse audiences in classes, seminars, lectures, public talks and stand-up comedy about all aspects of her work from collections management to working with human remains. Her main area of research is the history of science and medicine in the 19th and 20th Centuries, specifically the history of scientific racism. She uses museum objects to tell decolonial stories in engaging and affirming ways.
 
Miranda Lowe is a principal curator and museum scientist at the Natural History Museum, London, where she is responsible for many historically important oceanographic specimens from the Discovery and Challenger expeditions including Charles Darwin’s barnacles and corals. She is a specialist in marine invertebrates especially crabs, lobsters, barnacles, jellyfish & corals. As a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Biology and the Linnean Society she is enthusiastic on communicating her science through appearances on TV and radio. She has a deep interest in the politics of natural history display, the role that art, science and museums play in our understanding of the natural world. As a co-founding member of Museum Detox, an organisation supporting Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) heritage sector and museum professionals, she works tirelessly on issues concerning representation and inclusion in museums and gallery spaces.