School of Fine Art Professor and award-winning youth group launch innovative exhibition

School of Fine Art Professor joins forces with award-winning Leeds youth group to launch innovative new exhibition

A Professor from the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies has joined forces with an award-winning youth group to launch a new exhibition on energy transitions at Leeds City Museum.

Abigail Harrison Moore, Professor of Art History & Museum Studies, has collaborated with the Preservative Party – a youth volunteer group based in Leeds – and Leeds Museums and Galleries on the exhibition, 'Whose Power? Energy Change in the Home', which opened last night and runs until 24 March 2024.

Who has been left out of energy history?

Visitors explore Whose Power? exhibition

Visitors explore Whose Power? exhibition

‘Whose Power?’ examines why it is important to understand how historic energy transformations were often led by women in their homes and what we can learn from social and gendered drivers for change at a moment when we all need to move to a post-carbon energy supply.

It uses examples of previous domestic technologies – old cookers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners from Leeds Museum and Galleries’ Discovery Centre – to help visitors think about how they use energy in their homes today.

Often excluded from the literature, women were making important energy decisions every day, and their histories are vital to our understanding of how we persuade people to power their homes using new types of energy. Together Abigail and the Preservative Party have looked at who else has been missing from the histories of energy and why.

When I developed the Fellowship application with the support of the team at Leeds Museums and Galleries, my intention was to explore the benefits of co-producing research with young people from diverse backgrounds. I never predicted, however, how life-changing this work would be. To use the language of energy, the Preservative Party have already powered my thinking in ways that I never thought possible, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say having been an academic at the University of Leeds for over 30 years. I am so very grateful to the group for helping me think differently about both my research and the benefits of working together to explore histories that help us change the future.

Abigail Harrison-Moore, Professor of Art History & Museum Studies

The Preservative Party

Made up of young people aged between 14-24, the Preservative Party has been working with Leeds Museums and Galleries for more than a decade, planning and curating a number of award-winning exhibitions at Leeds City Museum. Now a diverse group of 16 young curators who meet every Thursday evening, their last exhibition, Overlooked, which explored the lives and legacies of Leeds people whose stories have been untold or underrepresented, won major national awards. These include Volunteers of the Year at the prestigious Museums + Heritage Awards and the Marsh Trust Awards Volunteers for Museum Learning.

Whose Power launch party

Friends, family and members of the award-winning Preservative Party gathered for the launch

As the group has developed, one of their main ambitions is to curate exhibitions that challenge traditional practices in museums and galleries. They hope to open discussions on how museums view their collections and how these are made as accessible as possible for the diversity of visitors who come to Leeds City Museum. They ask questions of the Museum and then use their questions to produce exhibitions in an innovative and thought-provoking way.

The opportunity for the Preservative Party to work with Abigail on this project excited our young members who looked forward to continuing their research around themes of overlooked histories. Every member of the group has been thoroughly engaged and empowered working on ‘Whose Power?’ with all of our individuals being able to see their contributions to the project, whether it be the colour of the image backgrounds, bolding of key words for accessibility or driving the conversation with our key questions. The group cannot wait to officially launch Whose Power, the first of hopefully many outputs from this fantastic partnership between our young curators and Abigail.

Lauren Theweneti, a Senior Mentor and Member of the Preservative Party since 2014

‘Whose Power?’ is part of an innovative participatory research project led by Abigail and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The next phase will involve the Preservative Party learning how to podcast at HELIX, the University of Leeds’ new learning innovation hub for students, staff, and the local community.