2nd May 2013: Exploring Science and the Natural World Through Exhibitions of Craft and Design by Rowie Hamilton

Rowena Hamilton

The talk was held in The Castle Hotel in Manchester

Name of speaker and subject:

Rowena Hamilton  Museum and Gallery Exhibition Curator

Title of talk:

Exploring science and the natural world through exhibitions of craft and design

Bullet points of what you would like to cover:

The presentation will look at:

  • A group of recent exhibitions of art, craft and design I curated or co-curated for Millennium Gallery, Museums Sheffield
  • Some background about the subject of craft and design in relation to the natural world
  • The context of looking at this theme in my work at Museums Sheffield, given the collections they care for
  • Explore some of the different approaches we took to making art and design exhibitions about natural/scientific/technological topics
  • How exhibitions like these come about and what goes into making them
  • Some of the main themes and ideas which emerged from these exhibitions
  • Lots of examples of interesting artists whose work featured in these exhibitions
  • Try to draw some conclusions about what I hope visitors got from the exhibitions and what I got out of curating them

Suggested you-tube links, websites and / or texts where further information may be found:

Web pages for some of the recent exhibitions I will discuss, amongst others:

Rowie Hamilton
Rowie Hamilton


Rowie Hamilton


Rowie Hamilton

Pages for the extremely inspiring Ruskin Collection, owned by the Guild of St George which was established by Ruskin and which is cared for by Museums Sheffield:

Rowie Hamilton



A few words about you and your passion:

I am a curator with a background in art, craft and design but with huge enthusiasm for other subjects, mainly natural history. I am fortunate enough to make museum and gallery exhibitions for a living. Very occasionally this creates the opportunity to indulge in combining my joint passions and sharing them with others. I think that exhibitions have the power to create connections between different disciplines and to highlight the relevance of history to the contemporary world, as well as being an enjoyable leisure pursuit.
Over the past few years I have been working as the Exhibition Curator for Craft and Design and latterly as the Exhibition and Display Curator at Museums Sheffield. I am now moving on to new things but before doing so I want to celebrate the rare freedom that I had in Sheffield over the last few years to create these exhibitions.

A few lines about the history of your subject:

The Victorians really popularised the idea of temporary exhibitions for galleries and museums and also trade fairs. Where once artists and their patrons, academics and curators were the only real generators of exhibitions either to sell work or to expound a particular theme or theory about a subject, now there are many more models and reasons for making exhibitions.
In Britain our museums and galleries are, much like this Ragged project, a source of predominantly free to use education and entertainment. It is also a sector in great peril in the current economic climate. Sadly, temporary exhibition programmes like the one covered in this talk are often some of the first elements of museum work to go when money gets tight.

Thursday 2nd of May

Come along to The Castle Hotel

in Manchester

at 7pm to listen to the talk.

There will be food for everyone.