Advisory group

Advisory Group

The Advisory Group was put together to support the Museum’s work around updating our permanent galleries. Co-led by the Museum’s Jan English, Collections & Public Engagement Director, and Kate Hebert, Chief Curator, the group is comprised of both external and internal members.

We are grateful for support from the Association of Independent Museums, who provided funding towards our permanent gallery changes as part of their AIM Hallmarks Grants scheme Tackling Inequality. 

Internal members include

  • Jan English, Collections & Public Engagement Director
  • Kate Hebert, Chief Curator
  • Harriet Wilson, Exhibitions and Interpretation Officer


External members include

  • Dr Erin Forbes is a Senior Lecturer in African American Literature. She teaches and researches African American and U.S. literature of the long nineteenth century, and has written on literary and historical figures including Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, Benjamin Rush, Richard Allan, Absalom Jones, David Walker, Nat Turner, Thomas De Quincey, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Jacobs. She’s also explored the archives of Atlantic slave trade, late eighteenth-century yellow fever epidemics, crime writing in the popular periodical press, the penitentiary, insurgencies, and the Spiritualist movement. Her first book, Criminal Genius in African American and U.S. Literature is forthcoming with Johns Hopkins University Press in 2023. It examines how creative genius develops in tandem with the criminalization of Blackness between 1793 and 1845.  Her new research focuses on race and environment. She is a member of Bristol’s Centre for Black Humanities and sits on the British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists’ steering committee.  She was born in Virginia, grew up in Connecticut, and has also lived in New York, New Jersey (where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. at Princeton University), California, Oregon (where she earned her B.A. at Reed College) and Wyoming, where she was an Associate Professor in English and African American and Diaspora Studies at the University of Wyoming.
  • Roger Griffith MBE is a consultant and CEO of his company Creative Connex. He is a writer, social activist, lecturer for UWE Bristol, creative producer, broadcaster, and former CEO/Chair and Broadcaster of Ujima Radio, an award-winning community radio station. He has a passion for sharing cultural stories, global observations and insights on race, inclusivity and social inequality. He has been delivering race equality and diversity training for over 30 years and is a former senior manager for Bristol City Council. In 2022, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Arts by UWE Bristol.
  • Dr Sam Hitchmough is an Associate Professor in Modern U.S. History at the University of Bristol, and his research interests lie in Native American and African American activism since the late 19th century, ideas of authenticity and national identity, decolonisation, and Wild West shows that travelled to the UK in the early 20th century. He has worked previously with Maidstone Museum in Kent to digitise and make available to the public a collection of artefacts acquired by a 19th century explorer from a number of western Indigenous nations, and is particularly interested in the presentation of Native American history in museum spaces.
  • Renée Jacobs is the Founder of The Belonging Network, an organisation passionate about supporting and empowering individuals from UK minority backgrounds, with a focus on inclusion and belonging. A positive and driven go-getter, Renée is a TEDx Speaker, a Partner Business Manager at Aria Networks and a NED at TechSPARK, the not-for-profit tech community that is dedicated to connecting, educating and strengthening tech ecosystems from Swindon to Swansea.
  • Bobbi-Jo O’Gilvie is a coach, facilitator, and changemaker focused on elevating projects and people from minoritised backgrounds. Originally from Miami, she has lived in the United Kingdom for seven years, and has made it her mission to change structures and systems from the inside through her work with Black Girl Convention, Circe, NatWest and BSWN. As the Founder of Ready to Blog Designs, a studio that focuses on branding, web design and strategy for entrepreneurs, and Circe, an app aimed at revolutionising support for women in business, Bobbi hopes that her work can help more people tell their stories effectively, advocate for themselves, and live their best lives. She is an avid runner, reader and adventure-seeker.
  • Dr Kate Smith is Associate Professor of Eighteenth-Century History at the University of Birmingham. She specialises in material culture and researches how historical actors produced, consumed and derived meaning from, the material world. Kate is currently writing a book provisionally entitled Lost Property: A Cultural and Social History of Possession, 1690-1830. Her recent books include, Material Goods, Moving Hands: Perceiving Production in England, 1700-1830 (2014), New Pathways to Public Histories (co-edited with Margot Finn, 2015), The East India Company at Home (co-edited with Margot Finn, 2018) and British Women and Cultural Practices of Empire, 1770-1940 (co-edited with Rosie Dias, 2018). Kate has also co-curated exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Osterley Park and House, University College London and Rainham Hall.
  • Dr Jillian Sutherland is an independent curator, early career researcher and Lecturer in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of St Andrews. She has spent the last decade in the South West of England working on independent curatorial projects and with museums in Bath and Bristol, most recently the Holburne Museum in Bath, where she developed a permanent display based around one colonial object. Her doctoral research at Bath Spa University investigated curator perspectives on audiences in small museums in the South West, through engaging with ten curators about their practices. The thesis examined how curatorial practice in this context reflected and responded to wider postcolonial and museological issues. Jill specialises in decolonial approaches to curating and exploring postcolonial theory in relation to museums. Her other research interests include reflexive praxis, minority heritage research and representations/interpretations of ‘diaspora’ in the arts.