Working 9-5

Hannah Fleming

Drawing Room 1870 Geffrye Museum/Chris Ridley

Hannah Fleming is an Assistant Curator at the Geffrye Museum. She has worked on the last 6 Christmas Past exhibitions.

Christmas Past Room 1830 Geffrye Museum/Jayne Llloyd
What is the process that you go through when creating a Christmas Past period room?
The museum has been decorating the rooms for Christmas for over 20 years so they’ve changed a fair amount in that time. We create a scenario for each room – for the 17th and 18th century rooms which were the most recently redisplayed these are based on contemporary diary entries. The research for the rooms at Christmas is much the same as the research to create the rooms themselves – we look at original material like diaries, letters and, where possible, images to try and discover how people celebrated Christmas at the times our period rooms represent.
What Christmas Past rooms do you work on?
It can change from year to year in terms of the actual installation. We pair up so two Curators work on each room – this year I installed the 1870 and 1930s rooms.
Drawing Room 1830 Geffrye Museum/Chris Ridley
What's your favourite Christmas period room?
Slightly tricky this…normally the 18th century rooms are my favourites but at Christmas I like how full of good things the first room, which represents a New Year’s Day feast taking place in the hall of a house in London in 1630, looks. The table gets covered with plates full of replica sugary foods – including some ‘leach’, a sort of set milky jelly in squares, some of which are gilded. They were newly hand-covered in gold leaf this year by Alex Gordon-Jones, our Documentation Officer, and are looking especially twinkly.
Apart from Christmas Past, what other projects do you work on?
As well as exhibitions like Christmas Past  there are many other things going on behind the scenes at the museum – over the last few months for me these have included researching and sourcing funding for new acquisitions, overseeing filming and photography in the galleries, helping with the audit programme – effectively a stock check of every object in the collection – and all the usual background documentation tasks and helping visiting researchers.
Have you got any tips for anyone wanting to create a period look in their home? 
Your home’s not a museum so I wouldn’t worry about trying to create a historically accurate period look – buy things that you can afford that you like the look of and you won’t go far wrong. 
Finish this sentence…I love my job because…
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a job.
Parlour Room 1745 Geffrye Museum/Jayne Lloyd

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