Writer in residence at The Booth Museum

Writer in residence at The Booth Museum

By Mick Jackson
Sara Lock


Learn how writer in residence Mick Jackson engaged people who wouldn't normally visit a natural history museum.

Introducing Mick Jackson

Mick Jackson is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His latest book Yuki chan in Bronte Country was published by Faber and Faber in January 2016.

In recent years, Mick has set up writing residencies at the Science Museum, London, and the Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton.

Writing Residencies

Mick was the writer in residence at The Science Museum in London between 2011 and 2012. He ran weekly one-to-one writing surgeries for the museum’s staff, carried out his own research and contributed to in-house publications. The results of that residency contributed to his latest novel, Yuki Chan in Bronte Country.

He knew he wanted to do another residency. Prompted by the advice of Arts Council England and an interest in mortality and the Victorian Gothic period, he approached The Booth Museum.

The Booth Museum

The Booth Museum was founded in Brighton in 1874 by naturalist and collector Edward Thomas Booth.

During his lifetime Booth set himself the challenge of collecting, stuffing and displaying every British bird. His collection is unique, not least because it was the first to present the birds in dioramas recreating their natural habitat. It was this collection of over 300 cases that launched the opening of the museum.

In 1971 the Booth became a Museum of Natural History. The museum retains its unique charm of the quirky and eccentric with its focus on taxidermy and fossils, bones and skeletons.

The project

The project was a writer's residency running from September 2014 to September 2015. During the residency Mick ran creative writing workshops in the museum, using some of its rarely-seen artifacts.

He also carried out his own research and plans to write a series of short fictions in response to the collection.

Project aims

  • To bring in people that wouldn't normally visit a natural history museum
  • To create work that would benefit Mick's writing and the museum
  • To get people to see and respond to obscure objects from the stores that wouldn't usually be seen

Target audience

  • People who wouldn't normally attend a natural history museum
  • Vulnerable adults
  • Children in care

The process

Following the success of his residency at The Science Museum in London, Mick was keen to do another residency. He contacted his local Arts Council England office for advice and they suggested a number of museums that would be worth approaching, including Booth.

Mick had previously written a short story inspired by the Booth Museum and its Victorian collection so that felt like a good fit.

Mick contacted the museum and pitched the idea of being a writer in residence. He would bring new audiences into the museum in return for access to the archives and stores for his own research.

The Booth Museum was very positive about the idea and wrote a letter of support to accompany Mick's Grants for the Arts application.

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Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2016