Meet the Curators
Christine earned her doctorate in history in the first PhD programme in Holocaust and Genocide Studies in 2003 from Clark University (Massachusetts, USA). She then completed a postgraduate certificate in Museum Studies at the George Washington University (Washington DC), specialising in exhibition development. She held two postdoctoral fellowships, one a Fulbright, and has worked for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous. Christine has taught online courses, including for Gratz College (USA). Her research focuses on Jewish life in hiding, resistance, collaboration and the Nazi camp system. Christine began working for the Library in 2013 as the International Tracing Service Archive Researcher and moved into her current post in November 2015.
Christine believes articulating ‘the big idea’ (in the words of Beverly Serrell) for each exhibition is crucial, as it helps guide the selection of material that tells the story of the exhibition. She tries to find at least one key artefact for each exhibition - one that embodies the ‘big idea’ while sparking the visitor’s curiosity and emotion. Not everyone reads everything, Christine has found, so it is important that images and objects communicate the story well on their own.
One of her favourite items in the Library’s collection is Ruth Ucko’s diary, which Ruth kept as a German Jewish refugee in Britain. Her diary was first exhibited in A Bitter Road: Britain and the Refugee Crisis of the 1930s and 1940s and is featured in the exhibition catalogue available for purchase on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. A pivotal moment in Ruth’s experience as a refugee is recorded when she switches from her native German to English in the diary:
Christine has co-curated several exhibitions for the Library, including A Bitter Road, and has led as co-curator on Science + Suffering: Victims and Perpetrators of Nazi Human Experimentation.
Dr Barbara Warnock obtained her PhD in History in 2016 from Birkbeck College, University of London, from where she had previously completed a Masters degree in European History. Her research focusses on interwar Austria. She was a history teacher and examiner for many years, and also produced a number of A-Level history textbooks. Along with curating exhibitions, Barbara also gives workshops, talks, tours and lectures on the Library’s history, its collections and historical themes relating to them. Barbara took up her current post in early 2016.
She co-curated the exhibition A Bitter Road: Britain and the Refugee Crisis of the 1930s and 1940s with Dr Christine Schmidt in 2016, and led on the curation of the One Family, Three Cities, Six Years of War exhibition, in conjunction with external collaborator Jasia Reichardt, in 2017. She also collaborated on the curation of the Library’s exhibitions Dilemmas, Choices, Responses - Britain and the Holocaust and Finding Treblinka. One of her favourite sets of items in the Library’s collections is the series of Red Cross telegrams exchanged between Wolfgang Josephs (also known as Peter Johnson) and his father Alfred, during the Second World War. Wolfgang had come as a refugee to Britain, whilst his father Alfred was stranded in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.
Exhibitions at the Library are a team effort, and the curators rely on the cooperation and knowledge of the Library’s Collections and Visitors Services staff to ensure the elements fall into place. Marketing and Social Media Officer Leah Sidebotham’s work on evaluation and marketing has especially helped us respond to the needs and expectations of our visitors.
Dr Toby Simpson, now the Library’s Head of Digital, led on curation from 2011 to 2015. The vibrant exhibition programme Toby developed dealt with wide-ranging subjects, from Nazi propaganda aimed at children, to the Kitchener camp, the Kindertransport, and the Armenian Genocide.
The Library works with talented exhibition designers and developers, including No Numbers, Maven Design, Bivouac, Number Eleven and Mash Design. In addition to communicating the exhibition’s ‘big idea’ visually, our designers have helped implement new, interactive design elements. No Numbers developed our Twitter Wall, which highlighted visitor comments and reactions to our Britain and the Holocaust exhibition in real time, as well as a Feedback Wall in the exhibition itself. Maven Design created a Commitment Wall for A Bitter Road, on which visitors pledged to help current refugees by donating, writing to their MPs or educating others.
Some exhibitions are co-curated by Christine and Barbara, while others are developed with partner organisations and scholars. In 2015, the Library provided a platform for The Holocaust Educational Trust’s Regional Ambassadors to co-curate a popular exhibition about the role of Britain during the Holocaust. Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls’ (Staffordshire University) archaeological research on the Treblinka death camp was first exhibited in the UK at the Library in 2016.