Helen Adams

Helen Adams (MA) Project Curator and Engagement Officer (VERVE)

Helen trained in history, languages and museum studies. Since joining the Pitt Rivers in 2007 she has worked on a succession of collections-based research projects funded by Designation Development Fund and Arts Council England, focussing on diverse themes such as weaponry, amulets, body arts, and traditional crafts, and authoring major gallery and web resources for each. From 2012–2017 she is managing the Museum’s major Heritage Lottery Funded VERVE project (https://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/needmakeuse).

Research interests include learning and interpretation in museums, digital engagement, audience research, and a subject specialism in global arms and armour.

Helen is a member of the Oxfordshire Museums Council committee and continues to work as a consultant in evaluation for institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum; the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford; the Science Museum; and the British Museum.


Seminars, Papers, Publications and Broadcast Media

2018 'Eating for an Environmentally Sustainable Future', Medium (University of Oxford), April 26 2018, https://bit.ly/2IIltN8

2018. 'To Involve or to Engage? PER and PPI Explored’, Departmental seminar, Medical Sciences, University of Oxford http://bit.ly/2sQVifR

2018. 'Trails, Tours and Technology in the University’s Museums’, talk fordo: series, IT Services, University of Oxford

2017. Interview, ‘The Digital Human: Protection’, BBC Radio 4 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b099xs62 )

2017. 'Nature’s Defences: non-mammalian armour in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford’, in Q. Mould, (ed.) Leather in Warfare: Attack, Defence and the Unexpected. Leeds: Royal Armouries, pp 199-207.

2017. ‘Authorship and Ownership: Writing about other people’s stuff’, What's the Story: Creating Text that connects with Audiences, Museums Association conference, Bristol

2016. Interview, 'The Design Dimension: Money Money Money', BBC Radio 4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b076hrcj

2015. ' "A Shot for the Devil": Handguns and the Wars of the Roses', Battlefields Trust Magazine, Volume 20

2014. ‘Animal Armour’, Leather in Warfare Conference, Archaeological Leather Group and Royal Armouries, Leeds

2013. Interview, 'The Why Factor: Masks', BBC World Service http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01plr4j

2013. Interview, 'Mobile Apps in the Pitt Rivers Museum', BBC Arabic

2013. [with Penny Jones and Rachel Payne] ‘Skills in the Making: Craft-based Teacher Training and Continuing Professional Development’, engage journal 33, National Association of Gallery Education http://engage.org/engage33

2013. ‘Decorated Food and Drinking Items in the Collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford’, 36th ICAF Conference, Kamilari, Crete 

2012. 'Breaking the Mould: Collaboration in molten metal at the Pitt Rivers Museum’, Multiple Dialogues: interpreting ethnographic collections in the 21st century, Museum Ethnographers Group Annual Conference and AGM, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

2012. Editor/translator, ‘…We try to change things, where we can, so they stay the same’ (German translation) in Dauerausstellungen: Schlagichter auf ein Format, by Bettina Habsburg-Lothringen, Beilefeld: Transcript Verlag

2012. Interview, 'Inspector Morse's Oxford', Baker Street Studios / ITV

2011. Contributor, ‘Rethinking Aboriginal Art and Ethnology’ by Susan Lowish, Artlink Magazine (Australia), Vol 31:2, 118-119

2011. ‘Writing Effective Museum Text’, Museums, Libraries and Archives South-East (DMCS) Training and Development series, Oxford

2011. Chair, ‘Old Words’ – Writing On, Around and About Things, Museum Ethnographers Group Annual Conference and AGM, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

2011. ‘Early Firearms’, Conference on 2nd Battle of St Albans 1461, Battlefields Trust, St Albans

2010. Contributor, ‘Present Arms: Approaches to Displaying Arms and Armour’ by Simon Stephens, Museums Journal, May 2010, 32–37

2009. ‘Developing Displays at the Pitt Rivers Museum, from Aboriginal Art to Firearms’, Museum Ethnography at Home, Museum Ethnographers Group Annual Conference and AGM, Department of Archaeology, University of Bristol

Regular articles for the Friends of PRM Magazine, 2008–2013, including pieces on digital technologies; body art, Orthodox icons, Aboriginal Art and Arms and Armour: https://oxford.academia.edu/HelenAdams/Papers-&-articles


Web Credits

Oxford Stories web app (2016-2018)

How VERVE Changed Us (2017)

Oxford University Museums app in Chinese-English (2017)

Need/Make/Use project blog (2013–2016)


First World War Trail App (2016)


Pitt Rivers Museum audio guide (2014)


Explore Oxford University Museums App (2013)


Small Blessings: Amulets at the Pitt Rivers Museum (2012)


Ruskin College collaboration: films and resources charting volunteer experiences (2010–2012)


Some Thing for Every Body: the Body Arts collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum (2011)


Breaking the Mould: documentary following a team of artists and metalworkers as they create new work for the Museum, revealing the secrets of metal casting along the way (2011)


Arms and Armour Virtual Gallery, Pitt Rivers Museum (2008)


PRM Introductory Guides – Japanese Arms and Armour, Defensive Weapons & Aboriginal Australia (2007–2011) https://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/factsheet