UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities


Decolonising the Museum

Ananda Rutherford led this 5-day short course.

Lead Speaker: Ananda Rutherford, Research Associate, Tate

Ananda Rutherford is a researcher and museum documentation specialist. Formerly Assistant Keeper at the Museum of the Home, Ananda has previously worked on collections projects and documentation management in a number of collections including the V&A, Crafts Council, and Sir John Soane's Museum. Ananda is in the process of completing a doctorate at UCL's Centre for Digital Humanities and her research focuses on the relationship between digitisation in cultural heritage and traditional documentation practices. 

She is currently research associate on an AHRC funded TaNC Foundation project, Provisional Semantics, based in the Research department at Tate. The project attempts to address issues around decolonisation and structural racism in museum cataloguing practice and object description. 

Short Course - Retain and Explain: Why do we document museum collections?

Lead speaker: Ananda Rutherford, Research Associate, Tate

From June - 2021

Why do we document collections? What happens when you digitise an object and its records? Can you ‘decolonise’ a database? 

'Cultural heritage and the ways in which history is presented in museums and heritage organisations is currently much discussed in the media, and we will address some of the debates and issues from a behind-the-scenes perspective. The purpose is to explore the history, practices and policies of museum collections documentation and information. We will look at a series of questions around cataloguing, records, digitisation and online collections databases. Each session will be made up of a short presentation or provocation, time for discussion and the chance to do a bit of your own research interrogating online museum collections and think about what you would do to make them more useful, useable, and relevant'.


Student Testimonial

Harriet Baker 

'Ananda Rutherford took us behind the scenes of museums and shared her experiences from the lesser-seen sides of heritage work. The course offered an opportunity to consider the practical applications of the theoretical, academic discourses that I have been engaging with during my studies. Ananda Rutherford was generous with her insights, put great care and energy into the sessions, and created a friendly atmosphere for discussion. She pointed us towards loads of helpful and thought-provoking resources about decolonising museums, and prompted us to reflect critically on our own experiences and assumptions about heritage and how it connects to social and political dimensions, which was a productive and important experience. It certainly helped me to understand more about the sorts of careers available in museums, but it was also interesting and vital on a general level, too'.