Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Royal Museums Greenwich
Website URL
Arctic, Antarctic, polar exploration, material culture, museums, history of collecting, family, kinship
Additional Contact Information
Contact to be channelled through Royal Museums Greenwich press team (

Personal Info

About Me

I’m a historian, anthropologist and senior museum professional, based in London. My work focusses on histories of British polar exploration and on issues of memory and identity – who remembers what and why? What kind of mechanisms ensure that histories continue to be remembered? My primary research focus here has been on families and the sense of care and duty that they owe to their polar ancestors. I undertook oral history research with some twenty descendants of Arctic and Antarctic explorers to investigate this issue. I am also interested in the history of collecting, material culture and museums, on how exploration is materialised, and the idea of ‘relics’. I curated the ‘Polar Worlds’ gallery at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, opened in 2018, which draws on the museum’s outstanding historic collections, particularly relating to British polar exploration in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The gallery also looks at the impacts of climate change on the contemporary polar regions, particularly with regard to tourism, sovereignty and resource extraction.

Recent Publications

Book chapters

  • ‘Memory and materiality in the museum’. In Handbook of historical geography, eds. M. Damosh, M. Heffernan and C. W. J. Withers. London: Sage, 2020.
  • ‘Home from home: families, museums and exploration histories’. In Museum storage and meaning: tales from the crypt, eds. K. Singh and M. Brusius. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2017.
  • (with J. McAleer) ‘Objects of exploration: expanding the horizons of maritime history’. In Geography, technology and instruments of exploration, eds. C. W. J. Withers and F. MacDonald. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2015.
  • ‘Arctic “relics”: the construction of history, memory and narratives at the National Maritime Museum.’ In The thing about museums: object and experience, representation and contestation, ed. S. Dudley et al. London: Routledge, 2012.


  • (with C. Connelly) ‘Survey stories in the history of British polar exploration.’ Notes and Records of the Royal Society (special issue, Nineteenth-century survey sciences: enterprises, expeditions and exhibitions, eds. Simon Naylor and Simon Schaffer), in progress.
  • ‘“On thin ice”: the Polar collections at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.’ Museum History Journal 6 (2013): 59–73.
  • ‘“A small collection from New Mexico and Arizona”; Barbara Freire-Marreco in the Southwestern United States, 1919-23.’ Journal of Museum Ethnography 15 (2003): 115-30.
  • ‘“Small meetings across cultural boundaries”: model totem poles and the imagination of cultures on the Northwest Coast of America.’ Journal of Museum Ethnography 11 (1999): 105-20.
  • Book and exhibition reviews for journals including the British Journal of Canadian Studies, Journal of Maritime Research, Journal of Museum Ethnography, Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford, Canadian Journal of Native Studies; blog posts for various including History Vault, Historical Honey and the Royal Museums Greenwich website.
Media Coverage
Appeared on radio and television, including BBC Breakfast, Sunday Brunch, Channel 4 News, BBC World News, CBC, regional news bulletins, 'Museum secrets' and Channel 4 documentary 'The hunt for the Arctic ghost ship'
Country Focus
Polar regions - Arctic and Antarctic
Expertise by Geography
British Isles, England, North America, United Kingdom
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, Modern, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Family, Indigenous Peoples, Libraries & Archives, Material Culture, Museums, Public History