Name: Gill RamsayPosition: Assistant Curator, Oriental Museum Winner of: Global Professional Services Award
Gill Ramsay is the winner of the Global Professional Services Award at the Durham Global Awards 2023. Nominated for her work as Assistant Curator at the Oriental Museum, she has led on the development of collections-centred partnerships, working with the National University of Singapore and the University of Malaya.
With a defined passion for heritage, Gill began her journey by studying for a Masters in Ancient Civilisations of the Mediterranean and Middle East, Archaeology and Classics at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 2010. A second Masters in Human Osteoarchaeology (also at Edinburgh) followed, with a third Masters in Museum and Gallery Studies attained in 2013 at the University of St Andrews. Various professional roles in Heritage Centres and Museums across Scotland have enabled Gill to gather an impressive portfolio of experience and a wide range of skills. She has worked both at the acclaimed National Museum of Scotland and inventorying Brodick Castle for the National Trust on the Isle of Arran. Gill’s work was recognised in 2014, when she was awarded the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions Rising Star Award. We welcomed Gill to Durham in 2016, when she took up the role of Assistant Curator at our own Oriental Museum, where she expertly develops and delivers exhibitions and installations in collaboration with academics, students, artists, community groups and international partner organisations.
Since joining the Oriental Museum, Gill has taken a leading role in the development of international, collections-centred partnerships. This has seen her work with colleagues and counterparts at the National University of Singapore and the University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur). As well as curating the exhibition ‘Homelands: Centuries of Cham Migration at the Museum of Asian Art’ at the University of Malaya to showcase Durham-generated research, Gill also contributed to the development and delivery of two international multi-day workshops, delivered with the National Museum of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
Participants at an international multi-day workshop at the National Museum of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur in 2018.
Gill has also focused on an ambitious south-east Asian-based exhibition project, currently being developed by Durham University in collaboration with the University of Malaya and the National University of Singapore. Centring on the Chinese ceramic collection created by the Rt Hon Malcolm MacDonald (a former Chancellor of Durham University), which is today shared across the three partner universities. This inspirational project - and in particular the personal connections fostered by Gill - has played a key role in underpinning the establishment of a formal Memorandum of Understanding between Durham University and the University of Malaya (2022).
Inspiring future generations
Gill regularly employs her skills and subject-specialist knowledge, researching, developing and delivering lectures to Durham’s under and postgraduate students (particularly within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures). She supervises placement students and volunteers at the Oriental Museum. Since 2019, she has managed the Oriental Museum’s Instagram account, to inspire future generations.
As Durham seeks to provide a respectful and inclusive environment where staff and students from all over the world, from all backgrounds and identities can thrive and feel supported, so too is Gill committed to ensuring that the Oriental Museum’s exhibition and display programmes reflect multiple voices.
She is an active member of the Museums Association’s Decolonisation Collective, which campaigns for socially engaged museums and a representative workforce. She has also co-authored a paper entitled ‘Found in Store’: Working with Source Communities and Difficult Objects at Durham University’s Oriental Museum’ in Bryant Davies, R. & Johnson-Williams, E.G. (eds.), ‘Intersectional Encounters in the Nineteenth-Century Archive: New Essays on Power and Discourse’, which discusses dealing with potentially sensitive nineteenth-century objects which may reflect erotic, colonial or imperial, racist, sexist, violent or elitist ideologies.
Reaction to winning the award
"I was very surprised and honoured to receive this award, especially considering my fellow nominees and the amazing work they are doing.
"My role would not be possible without the support of the incredible team that I am part of. Since joining the Museum in 2016 they have supported me in developing my knowledge and experience and have encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to achieve my full potential.
"I would also like to acknowledge the wonderful people who I have worked with in Malaysia and Singapore, and I look forward to working with them over the coming years as the MacDonald project progresses, strengthening the historic ties between our three institutions."