Museum Selfie Day 2023

Cambridge Alumni take on #MuseumSelfieDay

Jack Ashby (Fitzwilliam 2000) — Assistant Director of the Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Here I am in the Museum of Zoology with our cast of a Diprotodon skeleton — the largest marsupial that ever lived: a rhino-sized relative of wombats which went extinct about 50,000 years ago (Australian mammals are my corner of zoology).

My childhood enthusiasm for natural history led me to study for a Natural Sciences (Zoology) degree at the University of Cambridge, with a large amount of my teaching taking place here in the Museum. After graduating in 2003 I started my career in science communication at the hands-on science centre At-Bristol, running workshops in the Learning Department.

I joined the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London in 2004 as the Learning and Access Manager, using the Museum’s specimens to establish a Learning and Access Programme. My role there began with the task of developing the museum spaces and services to be accessible to non-academic audiences for the first time, including schools, families and adults, as well as strengthening our ties with UCL Departments. I became Museum Manager there in 2011, and oversaw the development of the Museum into one of London's leading venues for engagement with the life sciences, curating several successful exhibitions at the interface of natural history, art and art history.

Find Jack on Twitter

Shruti Sharma (Pembroke 2015) — collaborator at Princeton University Art Museum

Upon returning from my studies at Cambridge to do a PhD at Princeton in 2020, I started worked at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Although I'm based at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, my doctoral research is interdisciplinary, and incorporates technical work in nanotechnology with creating media that shows art and scientific processes. Both art and science rely on imagery in their storytelling, so I've found a niche.

At Princeton, I've co-created a team called MuseumVerse. Together, we've developed a virtual reality system that allows visitors across the world to take virtual tours of museums, wherever they are based. By employing vast advances in tech, I hope to unveil the beautiful content in museum and library collections and create unique experiences.

I like how cultural media engages people and enables them to communicate. Community engagement is another significant area of interest to me, and signifies not only our local community, but our international neighbours.

Helen Hillyard (Newnham 2009) — Curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery

As the Curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, I am responsible for the Gallery’s world-renowned collection of historic paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Raphael, Canaletto and Gainsborough. I am also leading the Gallery’s new contemporary programme, which seeks to build a dialogue between artists of the past and present.

Previously, I worked in the curatorial departments at the National Gallery, London, and Birmingham Museums, and studied at Newnham College and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

My selfie was taken in the Gallery's display 'Anthony Daley: Son of Rubens', which runs until 2 April 2023.

Sean O'Harrow (Hughes Hall 1991) — Director of Kemper Museum, Missouri 

Here is a selfie of me in the atrium of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, with visiting colleague Laura Allred Hurtado, Executive Director of the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.  

One of our key roles as museum leaders is to develop relationships with other institutions in order to create international networks of partnerships so that joint exhibitions, publications and other projects can be pursued.

These larger initiatives, across multiple cities and populations, not only attract larger audiences, and as a result attract greater press coverage, but also provide more resources in order to support exhibition work with artists of the highest calibre.

Thando Mlambo (Magdalene 2018) — artist, pictured at National Gallery of Zimbabwe

I am a Zimbabwean artist and musician whose bold graphic works explore African culture in local and global contexts. I recently graduated from the University of Cambridge where I did African Studies.

Currently based in Harare, Zimbabwe, I have lived in South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire and Tunisia, and have studied in the UK and US. My distinctive imagery, which is both abstract and figurative, is inspired by the scenes, echoes and reverberations of these places.

I work with a range of materials including pen, paint and marker on paper; lino block printing; wood sculpture; and photography. The same images recur across my works, like variations on a theme. Fragmented faces emerge from and recede into their backgrounds, their eyes staring out at the viewer.

My practice explores knowledge and cultural production in Africa and its diaspora. I am interested in how Africans engage in intellectual and creative labour and how art can challenge inequalities around the world.

Thando's artwork is currently on display as part of The Women's Art Collection, housed at Murray Edwards College.

Elie Hughes (Girton 1999) — Curator at Ely Museum  

Here I am inside the fen hut in the newly refurbished Ely Museum in Cambridgeshire. The screen tells traditional fen tales to visitors.  

I have been Curator at Ely Museum for seventeen years, and my role is very varied. It includes managing collections, staff, finances and projects, alongside developing exhibitions, talks and events.