Narratives of Institution, Narratives of Place: Creating dialogues between histories for action research

  • Date:

Room 1.17
Clothworkers South Building
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT

Join us for this research seminar, in connection with the Bradford’s National Museum Project: Connecting the National Science and Media Museum and Bradford.

When the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television was set up in 1983, it was at a time of optimism for Bradford. Bradford was the first deindustrializing city to launch a tourism campaign ― Bradford: A Surprising Place ― celebrating equally the Brontës and curry and rolling out a red carpet for the first arrivals. The new museum was part of that moment.

Yet twenty years later a different story was being told. Further severe funding cuts looked likely in the 2013 Comprehensive Spending Review, leading Ian Blatchford, the Director of the Science Museum Group, to indicate the potential need to close one of the group’s northern museums (also including National Railway Museum, York; Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester).

45,000 people signed The Bradford Telegraph & Argus petition to keep the museum open. Now we are five years on. The museum did not close and it has started to reinvent itself. The reinvention has focused on two key strategies.

The first is to make the most of its roots in the Science Museum, with the new interactive Wonderlab and the change of name to the National Science and Media Museum.

The second is to become better connected in Bradford ― which is where the Bradford’s National Museum research project comes in. Over the next three years we’ll be experimenting with how these two new strategies of science and technology and celebrating being a distinctively Bradford museum can be combined.

In this talk, we will set up a dialogue between different members of the Bradford’s National Museum Project research team and between two strands of our research: between the histories of the National Science and Media Museum drawing on new archival and oral history research conducted by Sarah Richardson and Michael Terwey; and the changing media, policy and fictional narratives about Bradford in the same period, based on work by Seán McLoughlin.

From noting the ways these narratives are ― and are not ― entwined, Lynn Wray and Helen Graham will indicate how we will actively work with these institutional histories and histories of place in the research project’s action research strands.


Helen Graham, Associate Professor of In/tangible Heritage, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

Seán McLoughlin, Professor of the Anthropology of Islam (Muslim Diasporas), School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science

Sarah Richardson, Researcher, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

Michael Terwey, Head of Collections and Exhibitions, National Science and Media Museum

Lynn Wray, Researcher, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

Image: Bangladesh to Bradford. Photo by Tim Smith.