New podcast by Professor Abigail Harrison Moore and Leeds-based youth curators explores the power of participative research

A Professor from the University of Leeds’ School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies has teamed up with an award-winning group of young curators based in Leeds to produce a new podcast.

Together they explore the power of participation in research that seeks to co-produce new knowledge with young people.

The ‘Whose Power?’ podcast is a collaboration between Abigail Harrison Moore, Professor of Art History and Museum Studies in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, the Preservative Party, an award-winning group of 16 young curators in Leeds, and podcast producers Research Podcasts.

Together they have been exploring how participation can help us better understand power – who has it, and how it is used in different settings. Over five episodes, members of the group discuss what power means to them and share their own experiences of participating in research.

Two people creating a podcast in a studio

Professor Abigail Harrison Moore discusses Whose Power? as part of a podcast series created at HELIX, University of Leeds. Photo by Andy Lord.

Professor Abigail Harrison Moore said:

“Having worked at the University of Leeds for just over 30 years, I can hand on heart say that this experience working with Leeds Museums’ Preservative Party has been the most transformational of my career. We hope that the podcast conveys this transformation.

“Producing it has involved a great deal of hard work, thought, research, fun and creativity, and we believe that the results speak to this. We hope that when you listen to our podcast you will be moved and engaged in equal measure on hearing our diverse conversations about the power of young people in participatory research, and the role of ‘ordinary’ domestic objects in changing our thinking and the perceptions of museum visitors of everyone’s individual power in the future of energy decisions.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Leeds Museums and Galleries for the chance to work with these inspirational young people.”

Four people creating a podcast in a studio

Chris Garrington, Abigail Harrison Moore and members of the Preservative Party create a podcast for Whose Power? Photo by Andy Lord.

Rahesha, Grace and Lauren – mentors and members of the Preservative Party – said:

“Being involved in this process of podcasting with members of the Preservative Party, Abigail, and Chris and Krissie from Research Podcasts has been an exciting new way for us all to share the work that we do. Our hard work has been shared with Leeds Museums and Galleries and our visitors for over a decade now, but this medium of podcasting is a moment for all of our young people to have their voices physically heard.

“The Preservative Party has always been a place where young people have been able to learn at their own pace, share their research and interests in history and spend time socialising with other volunteers, who are now just considered friends. We can't wait for audiences to be able to listen to the podcast from July, and hear just how amazing and transformative museums, participation and volunteering can and has been for so many of our young people."

The podcast has been produced with support from Research Podcasts – a podcast training and production company that specialises in working with academics interested to use podcasts in their research, usually as a way of communicating findings. Chris Garrington, Research Podcasts Director, said:

“This podcast has been a very special project, because it’s helped me see the benefits of podcasting as an integral part of research itself, as a method of research, not just a tool for communicating research and findings. The voices in it are powerful and humbling in equal measure and it’s a must listen for anyone who is wondering how a podcast might support their research.”

Exhibition panels showing four different cooking appliances with the words above them reading who has been left out of energy history?

Exhibition panels from the 'Whose Power? Energy Change in the Home' exhibition, Leeds City Museum, 2024.

The podcast – which is available on most apps including Apple Podcasts and Spotify – was recorded at HELIX, the University of Leeds’ new learning innovation hub for students, staff and the local community. It follows a collaborative exhibition, Whose Power? Energy Change in the Home which ran from February to March 2024 at Leeds City Museum. The exhibition will next be moving to Leeds Discovery Centre in the Autumn.

The exhibition examined 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 used examples of previous domestic technologies – old cookers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners from the Discovery Centre – to help visitors think about how they use energy in their homes today.

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.

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.

‘Whose Power?’ is part of an innovative participatory research project led by Professor Abigail Harrison Moore from the University of Leeds and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Feature image

Members of the Preservative Party plan for the ‘Whose Power?’ podcast series at HELIX, University of Leeds. Photo credit: Andy Lord Photography.