A native of Reading, Brendan Carr’s museum career began at the Blairs Museum in Aberdeenshire where his research made a major contribution to the Museum becoming registered by the Scottish Museum Council (Museums Galleries Scotland). Other voluntary work experience included placements at the Bar Convent Museum in York and the British Museum Development Trust in London. Brendan returned home to join Reading Museum in 2001 and took up the role of Community Engagement Curator in 2010, combining collections management responsibility with overseeing the Museum’s community engagement strategy.
After joining the Happy Museum Project’s Community of Practice in 2012, Brendan led two directly funded projects and secured Reading Museum’s affiliation in 2017. More recently he undertook the Resourceful Reading Project in partnership with The Reading Sustainability Centre. This showcased some of the many things that people and communities in Reading are doing to make life more sustainable. On becoming a member of the Happy Museum Project’s Steering group Brendan said, ‘As we begin to recover from the shock of a pandemic caused by flawed stewardship of our planet, and at a time when transition to a zero-carbon economy has no more time for deliberation, museum workers – as true storytellers – can benefit from the Happy Museum’s encouragement to engage with these critical issues of our time.’
Robert R Janes was the CEO of the Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Canada) and the founding Director of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (Yellowknife, Canada). He has worked with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples throughout his career and was given a traditional Blackfoot name in 1995. He has worked in museums as a director, chief curator, consultant, author, editor, archaeologist, board member, teacher, volunteer, and philanthropist – devoting his career to championing museums as important institutions capable of making a difference in the lives of individuals and communities.
“I have been interested in the Happy Museum Project (HMP) since its inception, for its creativity and courage in rethinking conventional museum practice in order to contribute to environmental and societal well-being. The HMP embodies the values that have motivated my own work, including collaboration, inclusiveness, diversity, and mindfulness.”
Janes lives in Canmore, Canada with his wife, Priscilla, and on Denman Island, British Columbia, where they co-own a farm and nursery with their son Peter (https://treeeaternursery.com/).
Peter Lefort‘s background is in climate campaigning and network building. He has worked for the Eden Project, Cornwall Council, and the CAG Project in Oxfordshire and has co-founded various community projects, exploring systems of food inequality and how they can be shifted through new perspectives. His current role with the University of Exeter involves building a climate action network between environmental research and its implementation by businesses, policy makers, charities, communities, and more.
He is also the co-chair of the Transition Network, an international movement of grassroots environmental initiatives. To the Happy Museum project, Peter brings a keen focus on systems-thinking, resilience, emergence, and uncertainty. He is fascinated by the role of the cultural and heritage sectors in bridging the physical and emotional aspects of the climate emergency, providing both spaces of sanctuary and imagination to reshape our relationship with a world that is changing around us.
Katie Mitchell is in the early stages of her PhD at the University of Sunderland, focusing on the long term impact of UK City of Culture programmes on community wellbeing, touching on themes of best practice in place-based arts and health programming, evaluation methodologies and cross sector collaboration practices.
Katie has over 15 years’ experience in the cultural sector, lived experience of mental health challenges, and actively advocates for positive, informed approaches. Research interests include social prescribing, arts interventions for mental health, and how ‘legacy’ is understood and interpreted for arts & health projects.
She has followed the Happy Museum’s journey for years with keen interest and enthusiasm for their work in the sector and has long admired their holistic approach. She can often be found tweeting from @KathMitchell84.
Lisa Ollerhead joined the Association of Independent Museums as Director in June 2021. The representative body for independent museums across the UK, AIM focuses on helping museums and heritage organisations to prosper through providing support and resources to people running independent museums.
Before the AIM role, Lisa spent nearly five years as Head of Museums Policy in DCMS, where she worked on major sector initiatives including publishing the Mendoza Review, developing the Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND), and playing a major role in the design and delivery of the Culture Recovery Fund, including a stint as Head of the CRF Secretariat.
Lisa’s interest in wellbeing started in a previous civil service role, working in the wellbeing policy team in the Cabinet Office 2013-2014. This team worked on bringing wellbeing approaches and data into government policymaking and Lisa saw there the impact and importance of understanding state intervention, including funding culture, in terms of how it improves people’s lives. Lisa is excited to be part of the Happy Museum Project’s next steps, supporting the sector to improve and increase museum practice aimed at creating a more sustainable world.