Museum Engagement as Speculative Design Symposium Proposal conference: Considering futurities beyond the anthropocene through decolonising narratives of natural history collections


The natural history museum provides a unique opportunity to engage people with concepts that are intrinsically associated with commonly depicted futurities in the realm of science fiction and critical design. As a field, natural history is able to demonstrate that the planet we inhabit has been an alien world more than once in its past and will most likely be so again in its future. 

Based on findings from a collaboratively designed guided tour of the refurbished Hintze Hall with a following zine making and discussion workshop at the Natural History Museum of London, this talk will consider how artefacts created by participants, when analysed within framework of Black Quantum Futurism, indicate how an exploration of humanity’s self-inflicted environmental alienation via a decolonialist perspective on the history of the collection, is capable of self-generating small scale futurities in human-environmental relations.

The slides are embedded below and speakers notes are visible.

You can also watch a video of me presenting this slide deck at the conference 🙂


On natural history and the anti-nostalgic

Earlier this week I was part of a really interesting discussion about the question of ‘engagement’ and what it might mean in the space of natural history and speculative imagination.

I’ve been working in the Museum sector for a little over a year and the question of engagement is an intriguing one. Having worked in community based tech and science organisations like MadLab, I guess I just expected the equivalent of citizen science – ‘engagement’ sounded like continuous reciprocal communication with visitors and participatory approaches as default but the realities of funding and organisational structures quickly made it clear it’s not nearly that simple.

The puzzle of engagement remains at every level, especially when considering putting it into practice. Even regarding the purely theoretical, we all have different understandings of ‘engagement’ – is it about getting feedback? Is it ideating with target/non-target audiences? Is it co-production? And what about the intertwined complexities of funding, accreditation and accountability?

Continue reading “On natural history and the anti-nostalgic”