This is Museums n’That

a podcast by Leeds Museums & Galleries

Museums attract passionate people like moths to a flame, and this podcast gets to the very heart of the things that make them tick, by asking the questions you actually want to know.

Hosts Meg and Sara pour the tea over topics you never knew you needed to know about. Can you archive an orange? How do you clean a sculpture? What’s the greatest city in the world? (Spoiler alert: it’s Leeds).

So if that’s a bit of you, subscribe and listen to our first two series on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast kicks.

Cover artwork designed by Alex Finney. Theme tune produced by Tim Bentley.

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Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all the usual podcast suspects.

Episodes and show notes

S3E6: You do whatever you want my darlin’

It’s fashion, hun. This episode’s guest is Vanessa Jones, one of our curators of Dress and Textiles at Leeds Museums and Galleries.

For our last episode of the series – can you believe! – we find out how to look fly as hell in the 1700s, why fashion sustainability is nothing new and what the deal is with historical sweat.

We also get deep – too deep? – into socks.

Read Vanessa’s blogs on Re-framing our dress and textiles collection, and explore the online Fast x Slow Fashion exhibition.

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S3E5: Choccy butt-butts

Ant and Dec. Monica and Rachel. Wikipedia and Museums. The two best friends anyone could be!

Our guest this week is lovely Hope Miyoba, Wikimedian-in-residence for the Science Museum Group. Meg and Sara find out why museums and Wikipedia get on like a house on fire, talking through women in Leeds, human remains in museum collections and misrepresented histories.

We also discuss Bruce and Barack, wild nights of passion – oioi – and choccy butt-butts.

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S3E4: Everybody wants some of my hair, I’ve got none left

Florence Nightingale!

…unfortunately wasn’t available to be interviewed for this episode, but Stephanie Davies (Assistant Community Curator at Lotherton) absolutely was, and we really did luck out there. Steph tells us about the connection between the lady with the lamp and the greatest city in the world, and, naturally, we delve into pocket owls, mouldy hair and dog graveyards.

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S3E3: He extracted some fluid from that blister

In this uncharacteristically relevant episode, Meg and Sara talk to lovely Owen Gower from Dr. Jenner’s House, off of the birthplace of vaccinations.

We find out about Blossom the cow and her 20 horns, ghost stories from inside the house and the naughty vicar’s wife who stole a plant from the Pope. Oh, and all about vaccinations (lancets, people!), Edward Jenner and what it’s like to work at the house of one of history’s good guys.

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S3E2: The Sheriff of Nottingham is also a very naughty boy

Magna Carta! Jay Z’s 12th studio album and  the medieval cornerstone of modern democracy.

In this episode, we discuss both with Digital Engagement Officer Steven Franklin off of Egham Museum, Bradford Museums & Galleries and now the National Archives. Find out from someone other than Terry Jones why King John was so big and so bad, and why him needing a poo meant bad news for his Crown Jewels.

We also cover Runnymede – it’s a floodplain, guys! – , Salisbury Cathedral and the garlic and herb dip from Dominos.

You know the one.

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S3E1: Del Boy of Early Modern Stratford

Would you snog Othello? We’ve always asked the truly important questions, and this series will be no different.

We’re back! We’ve got wonderful guests! We’re still on zoom and we still hate it! For this first episode of series 3, Meg and Sara chat to Anjna Chouhan off of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who has 2 – 2! – of her own podcasts: Shakespeare Alive and Shakespeare’s Pants.

Anjna patiently answers our silly little questions, like: are there any of Shakespeare’s possessions still kicking about? What does it feel like sending emails every day from the place where the literal Bard was born? Most importantly, who’s the fittest Shakespearean actor?

It’s Helen Mirren.

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Series 3 trailer

Lovely news! We’ve been chinwagging our way around the UK (is chinwagging a word?) and now we’re back in the greatest city in the world ready to release our third series.

This time around, we ask museum smartypants the truly important questions about topics like Shakespeare, Magna Carta, vaccinations, Florence Nightingale, museums & Wikipedia and clothing from the 1700s.

We’re talking snog marry avoid, we’re talking poos and Crown Jewels. We’re talking choccy butbuts.

Subscribe to Museums n’That wherever you get your podcasts to be the first to hear series 3, coming very soon.

Bonus: It is literally Christmas

Ho, ho – we can’t stress this enough – ho.

We’re back with an extra special Christmas episode with Kitty Ross, Curator of Social History.

Who was St. Nick? What did Charles Dickens think of our Leeds? What’s your favourite Wet Wet Wet song? Kitty answers all of your burning festive questions (and then some).

Before you panic: Danny from DPD does get a mention.

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S2E7: All the Tits are in the same place

Could The Meg literally happen? How do you give a polar bear a wash and blow dry? Does Danny from DPD know how regularly he features on everyone’s favourite lowbrow museum based podcast?

We’re saying a firm ‘see ya’ to series 2 with curator Clare Brown, who explains how animals come to be in our natural science collection, and why dealing with the histories behind some of our collections can be so complex (see also: decolonisation).

Thanks a bunch to everyone except Zoom during this, our Everest series. We’ll be back soon!

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S2E6: Throw me on a skip and go for a curry

Bog bodies. Skeletons. Mummifying Alan.

Kat Baxter, Curator of Archaeology at Leeds Museums & Galleries, answers all of our (many) burning questions about human remains and the ethics of collecting and displaying them in museums.

We ask why some bodies are better preserved than others, and find out the kind of reactions visitors have to different types of human remains. We also discover why bog chemistry can be compared to chutney.

PLEASE NOTE: This episode contains discussions about death, burials and human remains in the context of museum collections, ethics and conservation. Please skip this episode if that isn’t for you.

Leeds Museums & Galleries Human Remains Policy is publicly available on our website.

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S2E5: Put all that Virgo energy into spreadsheets

Artist and Assistant Registrar to the stars (us) Emii Alrai is our guest this week, and the content is CHARMING.

Emii brings her trademark virgo energy to the pod as we find out what registrar-ing really means. Emii shares the influence for her artistic practice too, as we chat about how Middle Eastern objects come to be in western museums, and what it means for their histories once they’re on display in them.

Guest cameo: Danny from DPD.

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Bonus: Who the flip are Meg and Sara?

Surprise! Our first (questionable) bonus episode.

Turns out Meg and Sara are literally museum professionals too, so get to know more about your favourite museum podcast hosts and what they do every day.

Find out about the good, the bad and the downright lovely sides of working with museum audiences, why museums need to change and the impact that working in social media can have on your mental health.

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S2E3: The first Lighthouse Family

Trains! Jelly tots! Chicken Jalfrezi! All the major food groups in one delicious museum podcast. 

Curator of industrial history John McGoldrick tells us all about inventions made in the great, nay, greatest, city of Leeds. Find out what Dick Whittington’s got to do with railways, how to become an actual rocket scientist and what, definitively, is the best train.

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S2E2: Elijah Wood bought all these turnips

Oh, this is a good one. Conor Clarke from the National Videogame Museum in Sheffield (the second greatest city in the world) has willingly, actually, genuinely come on the show.

We talk videogame history, and explore the logistics of collecting games as a museum. We cover the fundamentals too: Crash Bandicoot or Sonic? Would you sell your turnips to Elijah Wood? Who would play you in a videogame?
The answer is always Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

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S2E1: Six legs, that’s a party

Bum silk nests. How to shave a moth. Harry Styles. We’re back, and starting Series 2 as we mean to go on.

Assistant Curator of Entomology Milo Phillips puts moths under the spotlight in this episode, and we explain the Leeds Museums & Galleries obsession with the little blighters. Swot up on cocoons, caterpillars, and crucially: who would win in a fight, the best ant, or the best bee?

It’s good to be back.

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Series 2 Trailer

We’ve been debating whether to sacrifice the high quality of our recordings (that we’re so famous for) for series 2 by doing them remotely. The answer is yes! We’re going to. You’re welcome. We’re sorry in advance.

We’ll be covering topics like human remains, moths and inventions made in the greatest city in the world. Series 2 even features some actual real life guests, like Conor from the National Videogame Museum.

Listen, subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all the usual podcast suspects, complete with unwelcome house noises and internet connectivity issues. See you there.

S1E6: So it was flapping around a bit

Hold tight for sword fighting, Gandalf quotes and diggers that look a bit like hands. 

For the last episode of this first series, Meg and Sara interview Learning Officer Carl Newbould, who works with pupils with special educational needs and disabilities to give them experiences of the world of work. In other words, Carl has the loveliest job.

Discover what that actually means in practice, why Meg hates Paris and which celebrity Carl’s a dead ringer for.

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S1E5: They call him fruit punch mouth

This one’s a corker. Discover why fish and chips are bad, who’s got tiny little teeth and the arty love affair that never actually quite happened.

You’ll also do some very good ‘learns’ too – what’s the deal with Henry Moore? Why is some art considered art when it looks a bit like you could have done it? What happens if you accidentally break a sculpture?

Find out everything you ever really wanted to know about sculpture as Meg and Sara interview Dr. Rebecca Wade: sculpture expert, curator extraordinaire and Buffy fan.

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S1E4: Japanese tea flavoured KitKats, maybe

Meg and Sara get the tea on the wonderful country of Japan from Adam Jaffer, World Cultures curator at Leeds Museums and Galleries.

We also discover what Humboldt Squids have to do with Peruvian mummies, the incredible commitment of the Shinto monks and, most importantly, where on literal Earth Antarctica even is.

Please be aware that this episode contains discussions about mummification and ritual suicide.

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S1E3: I just like the word ‘mooli’

Meg and Sara interview Chris Sharp, Assistant Community Curator at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills and Thwaite Watermill, and owner of the longest job title in history.

Chris talks through his work with local community groups, and how he facilitates people experiencing the museum on their own terms. We cover gardening, mental health, dementia and alpacas in jumpers. And takeaways.

This one’s a lovely cuddle for your ears.

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S1E2: It was an orange and we had no idea what to do with it

Meg and Sara interview Errin Hussey, Archivist for The Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Museums and Galleries.

Errin spills the beans on what archives actually are: how they’re stored, how you should hold them and what happens when the thing you’re archiving is actually an orange.

Find out about Bruce Springsteen’s archive, what happened with a packet of biscuits in 1960 and how to pronounce Pearl Jam correctly.

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S1E1: Slugs in ethanol and Julia Roberts

In this first episode, Meg and Sara introduce themselves before interviewing Rebecca Machin, Curator of Natural Science at Leeds Museums and Galleries.

Find out why preserving a caterpillar is especially gross, how one very special gorilla ended up in our collection and most importantly of all, what it’s like to shake David Attenborough’s hand.

Please be aware that this episode features quite graphic discussions about taxidermy and animal anatomy. Taxidermy is the process of using animal skin to make a model of how the animal looked when it was alive. Museums use taxidermy for education and research, and Leeds Museums and Galleries does not kill animals for display.

Taxidermy has been used as a way of preserving animals for centuries. Before television and zoos, most people only got to see wild and exotic animals by looking at taxidermy in museums. Some taxidermy was produced as hunting trophies but modern museum taxidermy is undertaken with complete respect for the animals and out of a need for education and research.

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Copyright © Leeds City Council 2021