The Back to the Future series examined the impact of the digital age on key aspects of the Arts in the past, present, and future. Through four events, we focused on museum and gallery curatorial practice, archives, the wider heritage industry, and the study of history.

Contributors included the Digital Director of The National Archives at Kew; the Head of Library Collections at the Society of Antiquaries of London; the Professor of Palaeography at Cambridge; the Head of Collections Care at the Tate; a museums specialist from Glasgow University; the Director of the Sainsbury Centre, and specialists from Norwich Castle and UEA. Series convened by Professor Stephen Church, Medieval History, UEA.

Presented in partnership with Norwich Castle and Norfolk Museum Services.

Expand the details below for more information on each event and to listen back, where available.

Research Series Events

Date: Tuesday 10 May 2022

How are digital artworks curated? This question will be addressed by three gallery and museum experts from the Tate, Glasgow University, and the Sainsbury Centre at UEA.


Pip Laurenson, Head of Collection Care Research, Tate, and Professor of Art, Collection and Care at the University of Maastricht

Professor Pip Laurenson has over twenty years of experience in the conservation of contemporary art, establishing and leading Tate’s pioneering Time-based Media Conservation section from 1996 until 2010. In 2010 Pip took up her current role, as Head of Collection Care Research to develop, lead and support research related to the conservation and management of Tate's collections. Pip is committed to interdisciplinary research that serves and responds to art of our time and the challenges facing the 21st century art museum. In January 2016 Pip took up a special chair as Professor of Art Collection and Care at Maastricht University. In July 2022 she will take up a new role as Professor of Conservation at University College London and will lead their new MSc in the Conservation of Contemporary Art and Media at UCL East.

Sarah Cook, Professor of Museum Studies, University of Glasgow

Sarah Cook is a curator, writer and researcher based in Scotland. She is Professor of Museum Studies in Information Studies at the University of Glasgow. She is editor of 24/7: A Wake-up Call For Our Non-stop World and co-author of Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media. Sarah is one of the curators behind Scotland’s only digital arts festival NEoN Digital Arts and was founder/curator of LifeSpace Science Art Research Gallery in the School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee. Together with Beryl Graham, Sarah co-founded CRUMB, the longstanding online resource and network for curators of new media art, hosting workshops and courses worldwide.

Dr Jago Cooper, Director of the Sainsbury Centre

Jago Cooper is Director of the Sainsbury Centre and Professor of Art and Archaeology at UEA. For more than twenty years Jago has worked for and with museums, cultural ministries, technology companies, and heritage organisations around the world to explore and communicate aspects of the great human story. His research has ranged broadly across universal questions facing global society including climate change, technological revolution, colonial encounter and social innovation. In addition to writing academic publications and papers, Jago has always worked hard to engage a broader public audience with his research interests creating exhibitions, digital platforms and broadcast media including writing and presenting more than a dozen documentaries for the BBC.

Date: Tuesday 24 May 2022

Every part of the archive’s work is profoundly impacted by the form the record takes. With a sharp transition from paper to the digital, the best practices for digital archiving are explored.


John Sheridan, Digital Director, The National Archives, Kew

John Sheridan is the Digital Director at The National Archives, with overall responsibility for the organisation’s digital services and digital archiving capability. His role is to provide strategic direction, developing the people and capability needed for The National Archives to become a disruptive digital archive. John has a strong interest in the web and data standards and is a former co-chair of the W3C e-Government Interest Group. He serves on the UK Government’s Data Leaders group and Open Standards Board which sets data standards for use across government. 

Justine Mann, Archivist for the British Archive for Contemporary Writing, UEA

Justine Mann is a qualified library and information professional with thirty years of experience in high profile library, information and archive settings including the House of Commons Library, the Trades Union Congress, the Joint Information Systems Committee, and the London School of Economics. In 2015, she became Project Archivist at UEA, building the foundations of the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW) home to collections from Doris Lessing, Lee Child, Lorna Sage, Malcolm Bradbury, Naomi Alderman and Tash Aw, amongst many others. Justine’s role is to develop new archives and embed the collections in teaching, research, and public engagement initiatives.

Sean Kelley, Archive Education Technologist, East Anglian Film Archive, UEA

Sean Kelly is Archive Education Technologist at the East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA), the regional moving image archive for the East of England based within the UEA. Sean is a qualified archivist with over 15 years' experience in moving image preservation. Their current role is overarching and collaborative. Working with the Academic Director they seek to embed the use of the archive in teaching and research whilst also working with other team members on collections care, and information management. EAFA has been digitising holdings since 2006 and recently Sean has begun working with the Senior Technician in formalising EAFA’s approach to digital preservation. Previously awarded the Association of Moving Image Archivist's Image Permeance Institute Internship in Preservation Research, Sean also has international experience, studying and working in both the USA and Amsterdam.

Due to a technical error, the audio recording of this event is unavailable. We apologise for any disappointment this may cause. 

Date: Tuesday 31 May 2022

Digital platforms provide an opportunity to maximise access to heritage and the collective past, but the process also exposes ethical issues that will be explored in this event.


Dunia Garcia-Ontiveros, Head of Library and Museum Collections at Society of Antiquaries of London

Dunia Garcia-Ontiveros is Head of Library and Museum Collections at the Society of Antiquaries of London. Obtained a BA(Hons) in Archaeology, Classics and Classical Art at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology and later an MA in Library and Information Studies, also at UCL. Worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art, the National Maritime Museum, and The London Library among others. Joined the Society in 2019 and is responsible for library, archive, and museum collections both at Burlington House and Kelmscott Manor.

Dr Tim Pestell, Senior Curator of Archaeology at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

Tim Pestell is Senior Curator of Archaeology at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, a post he has held for the last twenty years. He is the curatorial lead for the £13.5m Lottery-funded redevelopment project Norwich Castle: Royal Palace Reborn which is re-creating the floors and rooms spaces of the twelfth-century palace of the Norwich’s Norman Keep as well as creating a new Gallery of the Medieval World in partnership with the British Museum, which will house over 1,000 objects.

Dr Lorna Richardson, Lecturer in Digital Humanities, UEA

Lorna-Jane Richardson is Lecturer in Digital Humanities and Heritage in the School of Art, Media & American Studies at UEA. Her research and teaching focuses on the intersection of digital media and cultural heritage, with her recent work focused on the many ethical dilemmas presented to the cultural sector by emerging technologies and digital society.

Date: Tuesday 7 June 2022

Digital history has transformed the ways in which historians can study the past. This event examines both the opportunities and threats to understanding the past in a digital age.


T.G. Otte, Professor of Diplomatic History, UEA

T.G. Otte is Professor of Diplomatic History at the University of East Anglia. He has published some twenty books, among the latest of which is Statesman of Europe: A Biography of Sir Edward Grey (Allen Lane, 2020). He has also been an adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Tessa Webber, Professor of Palaeography, University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge

Teresa Webber is Professor of Palaeography in the Faculty of History at Cambridge and a fellow of Trinity College. She writes on the production, ownership and use of medieval manuscript books and documents, including a monograph on the earliest books of Salisbury Cathedral, articles on manuscript production and libraries in England in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and collaboration on the online digital project 'Models of Authority: Scottish Charters and the Emergence of Government, 1100-1250'. She gave the Oxford Lyell Lectures in 2016 on 'Public Reading and its Books: Monastic Ideals and Practice in England c. 1000-c. 1300', and is currently the General Editor of the British Academy project, The Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues.

Emma Griffin, Professor of Modern British History, UEA and President of the Royal Historical Society

Emma Griffin is Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia, and researches on the social and economic history of Britain during the period 1700-1870, with a particular interest in gender history, the industrial revolution, and working-class life. She is the President of the Royal Historical Society and acting PI on the largest digital history project ever funded in the UK – Living with Machines.