Back from the Dead – a touch tour of the story of Penicillin

Marie-Louise Kerr, Exhibition Curator – Back from the Dead

After my training session last summer with the Museum Outreach team, although I had attended another session to help out, I gave my first proper Touch Tour talk at the start of March. I was really excited about giving the tour – giving public talks is a regular part of my job but this felt like a new way of approaching the familiar. In the prep beforehand, Susan and I talked through the gallery space and display layout, thinking about good places to stop to talk and what hands-on elements might be incorporated. I thought through my usual talk information and where I should add additional descriptive elements to add interest or further details for the audience. The RNIB training was useful and made the process feel less daunting. What was even better was that it felt like a very natural way to approach talking to members of the public.


 On the day itself, we were thrilled to have 14 people turned up (& 3 guide dogs!) and, although it was rather “cosy” in the Special Exhibitions Gallery, the audience were patient with the squeeze and the time it took to move people and set up chairs (Even the dogs didn’t make a fuss. Thankfully – howls could have been off-putting!). Even better they really engaged with the talk. It is always great when an audience laughs in the right places! There were questions and sharing of stories (including a gentleman who had met Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin and another who might have a family member who worked at the Dunn School when Florey was there), which I always enjoy and feel really adds to theses tours – I ended up learning things as well as having the opportunity to pass on what I have discovered during the exhibition research. Hopefully a win-win situation!

 We ended the session by some group members making votives based on their own experiences of illness and antibiotics, which will be added to our artist-in-residence, Anna Dumitriu’s Ex Voto art installation within the Back from the Dead display.

 The Touch Tour was a first for me but I really enjoyed every element, from the preparation to delivering the talk, and I very much hope to be involved in similar sessions again.


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