Alex Woodall started in post as Head of Learning at the Sainsbury Centre in September 2016, where she manages the learning programme and a team that includes 3 learning programme managers, 2 administrators, about 30 artists and 60 volunteer guides. She also teaches and undertakes research.

Her PhD is from the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, and is entitled ‘Sensory Engagements with Objects in Art Galleries: Material Interpretation and Theological Metaphor’. It is interdisciplinary in nature, combining museum studies, anthropology, and theology, and emerged directly from professional practice. It was supervised by Dr Sandra Dudley and Professor Richard Sandell, and examined by Professor Helen Rees Leahy (University of Manchester) and Dr Suzanne MacLeod. Alex is particularly interested in topics including enabling imaginative response to objects, materiality, artists working with collections, and creative approaches to interpretation.

She is involved in a research project entitled ‘Things Unbound’, an international partnership between the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, and the National Museum Institute in New Delhi, India which aims to explore what it is that objects do at the moment of encounter (and indeed whether this is possible to research). This has included fieldwork in different museum settings including City Palace Museum in Jaipur, several Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh, and Ely Cathedral and its Stained Glass Museum).

Prior to moving to Norwich, Alex lived in Sheffield and worked in various museums and galleries in learning, interpretation and exhibitions roles, including at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, Manchester Art Gallery and Museums Sheffield. She has worked as a freelance consultant for museum and gallery interpretation, and started her museum career as a volunteer at Kettle’s Yard. Following her BA and MPhil in Theology, she taught RE and Philosophy in schools before moving into the museums sector. She was Yorkshire and Humberside Convenor for GEM before being a member of its board, and is a mentor for the Museums Association.

All Publications

Woodall, A.


On Object Dialogue Boxes: silence, empathy and unknowing,

in International Journal of Heritage Studies

Full Text UEA Repository


(E-pub ahead of print)