Reappraising colonial history #ADA
Lynn Huynh, Marketing and Audiences Manager and Andrew Thompson, Senior Marketing and Audiences Manager, from the Wellcome Collection start to confront and reappraise the colonial history of Wellcome’s collections as part of their Fellowship at the Audience Diversity Academy.
I’m Lynn, joint Fellow with Andrew in the marketing team at Wellcome Collection.
Access, diversity and inclusion is a big strategic focus for our organisation. There’s a lot we’ve done over the last year to develop our understanding of accessible and inclusive approaches. Between us, we’ve participated in sessions aimed at co-designing a more inclusive organisation, developed a toolkit to help market to disabled audiences, and used research to update our brand guidelines and design approaches to be more accessible and inclusive.
Our key audience focuses are on D/deaf, disabled, neurodiverse and racially minoritized communities.
We don’t currently have active community outreach – we have a small-scale youth and schools program, but otherwise we market to general cultural audiences. Our research shows that we mainly attract an audience who are white and university-educated. This is something we really want to change, and that’s why we’re here to learn with the Audience Diversity Academy.
One challenge lies in the size of our organisation: we can get caught up in complex structures, unclear decision-making processes, and inconsistency of approaches. It often takes a long time to get the right people on board to make a project happen.
As a part of Wellcome Trust, the health research foundation, there’s also a culture of research – but this can mean that people are wary of signing off projects that don’t have a strong body of evidence to support it, which could make “scrappy experiments” more difficult to initiate.
Like many museums, we’re starting to confront and reappraise the colonial history of Wellcome’s collections. As part of this, we’re starting to redevelop one of our permanent galleries, Medicine Man. This offers an interesting opportunity to reflect on the stories these historical objects can tell us, to surface different perspectives and involve our visitors in this journey.
On our mentor’s advice, our next step is to chat to our youth and schools colleagues, to see if we can zero in on an experiment with young people around this opportunity – the hope is that, by joining forces with a small team and a niche group, we can get something started quickly.
Lynn Huynh, Marketing and Audiences Manager, Wellcome Collection
Lynn has a focus on what accessibility and diversity mean for marketing and that true representation spans more than words, images, formats and design. She previously worked for Comic Relief, NSPCC, Cohn & Wolfe PR and Wellcome Trust, across corporate, government, charitable and educational audiences.
Andrew Thompson, Senior Marketing and Audiences Manager, Wellcome Collection
Andrew focuses on growing audiences and developing promotional campaigns for temporary exhibitions. He is interested in how audience diversity and inclusion can become central to marketing strategy. Andrew previously worked at the Jewish Museum London, Old Royal Naval College, and in publishing.