As Documentation Manager Jane is responsible for co-ordinating the cataloguing of the Ri’s historic apparatus, archive and image collections alongside managing the Archives Reading Room. She is currently working at the Ri part-time while studying for a Masters in Digital Heritage supported by a Freer Educational Trust scholarship.
Jane completed a BA in Archaeology at the University of Bristol and an MA in the Archaeology of Human Origins at Southampton University before coming to work at the Royal Institution, which has a grand total of one archaeological artefact in its historic collections.
I have fond memories of playing with chemistry kits in my friend’s garden shed as a child but I was just as interested in how the Bunsen burner worked as what colour the sample turned. I think my main interest was always in puzzling out how things were put together. Working at the Ri I’m always amazed that the major scientific breakthroughs made here, such as Faraday’s generator and Tyndall’s work on germs, have been using simple everyday materials.
It might be a bit of a stretch but my favourite object has to be the Ri building itself. There are so many unique and wonderful things in the historic collections but what makes the Ri special is that the apparatus we hold here were mostly made and used right on this site. There’s so much history here: Ri has been based at No.21 Albemarle street for practically its entire existence and, while its changed over time, there are traces of its past all around if you know where to look.
It’s probably not a surprise that it’s the history of the Ri that’s my favourite thing. I love working somewhere where people have been setting off explosions in the name of science communication for over 200 years.