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The Horniman Museum and Garden’s multimillion pound World Gallery opened in 2018 with the aim of using the permanent collection to “show how ordinary people live their lives and make their way in the world we all share”. I was responsible for four sections of the Gallery:

Luck and Protection (England). I was keen that the objects displayed from England would be as unexpected for most visitors as anything else on show in the gallery.  I also wanted to unsettle the assumption that English culture is especially ‘rational’, so I chose a group of charms collected in the early twentieth century and juxtaposed them with images of contemporary charms carried by visitors to the Horniman. Some of the objects displayed are lurid, like a sheep's heart studded with pins to protect from witchcraft, whilst others are deeply poignant, especially a group of soldier’s amulets from World War One. Next to the charm display I designed a 'clootie tree' interactive onto which visitors could tie wishes. Tens of thousands of visitors have added their wishes to the tree, and visitor feedback suggests that it combined with the display of charms is the most popular part of the gallery.

The Living Mountains (Himalayas). A variety of examples offer a glimpse of different ways people in the Himalayas think about the landscape. At the centre of the display is Tsampa, a video about the staple food of Tibet, shot in New York by Shapalay a Swiss-Tibetan hip hop artist. The video links in with objects and text to explore the role which food plays as a conduit to homeland for diaspora communities.

Sharing Souls with Tigers (Nagaland). The display focuses on the desire which many young people in Nagaland have to know what their culture was like before past generations converted to Christianity. We see how young people have found find creative ways to link old traditions, with contemporary phenomena, especially fashion shows. Efforts at connecting with the past are eloquently reflected in the display's centrepiece: Tattooed Memory, a striking self-portrait by Temsuyanger Longkumer, a London-based artist of Naga heritage.

The Ceiling Display. I filled the high vaulted space above the gallery with kites ranging in scale from a Guatemalan Day of the Dead kite which is nearly 5 meters in diameter to a series of newspaper-sized Afghan ‘fighting’ kites. The display disrupts the idea that certain cultures are confined to particular geographical spaces: the Afghan kites, for example, were made in London and bear the Afghan flag alongside the cross of St George, and through the middle of the display weaves a Chinese dragon kite made in San Francisco.

The gallery received considerable attention in the media, with glowing reviews published in the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, and the New Scientist. The gallery was discussed in the BBC Radio 4 podcast, the Saturday Review

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