Staff and Volunteers

Rachel Tranter, Director

Rachel has been passionate about museums from an early age having been brought up in a family that valued culture and regularly visited museums. Following her degree in history and art history, she was lucky enough to be part of the first cohort of the MA in Museum Studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art under the guidance of Professor Michael Kauffmann. This fantastic training, along with the opportunity to undertake work experience in a wide range of museums, gave her an excellent starting point for a career as a curator, museum educator and manager of arts and culture.

As head of arts in Richmond, Rachel led a £5m transformation of Orleans House Gallery supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which prioritised learning through the creation of the award-winning Coach House Education Centre and has been an inspiration for many other museum learning centres. Rachel established a national reputation for inclusion practice and work with young people, including for those studying outside of formal education, which was recognised by the Art Fund Prize in 2009. She is an advocate for the importance of networks and partnerships and good at initiating new developments. She helped to set up the London Museums Group and the London Culture Forum, was a board member of Engage, and chaired the West London Museums Group encouraging its transition to the West London Heritage Hub. Alongside her current work with GEM, she is the Projects Manager for Rambert School and Trustee of Art & Soul, which is a charity that supports mental and emotional wellbeing through the arts and Trustee of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum and Arts Richmond.

Sara Wallington, Office Manager

Sara has over 15 years’ experience running the administration and co-ordination of the GEM office. She has a commercial background and previously worked in planning, purchasing and stock control for a major flexible packaging company. She likes the varied role and the opportunities to promote learning through the heritage sector. When she’s not busy running the GEM office, Sara enjoys nature walks, keeping fit and is an avid foodie!

Talk to Sara about joining GEM!

Katya Provornaya, Communications & Participation Manager

Katya is a digital communications specialist with a background in the culture sector. She is passionate about creating and delivering digital campaigns and strategies that inspire audiences and provide them with engaging lifelong learning experiences.

She previously led on digital at the British Embassy in Moscow, curated the digital department at the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, worked with the special projects team at the BBC and conducted audience research work for the Royal Opera House and the V&A. Katya completed an MA in Museums and Galleries in Education at UCL and has an academic background in Journalism and Art History. In her free time Katya explores hidden cultural gems around London, bakes cakes and writes songs.

Speak to Katya about GEM’s digital campaigns and social media: [email protected]

Shannen Johnson, Engagement Manager

Shannen is an experienced museum learning professional and has worked in various roles within the sector, delivering and developing museum learning programmes, undertaking fundraising and managing a small museum. She has undertaken research into museum learning, focusing on sensitive histories. She has an interest in inclusive practice and is passionate advocate for museum learning.

She previously led Learning and Engagement at The Peace Museum, Bradford and worked as part of the Learning Team at the National Science and Media Museum. Shannen studied International History and Politics at the University of Leeds and is currently completing an Associateship of the Museums Association. Shannen is an active member of the vibrant cultural scene in her home city of Bradford, enjoying art, exhibitions and shows. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading and watching cosy murder mysteries, and spending time with her family and friends.

Leanna Peek, Operations Manager

Leanna has over 12 years’ experience in different banking and finance roles within different sectors, including have worked at one of the “Big 4”. The Last two years were spent working in the education sector. Using the experience she has gained, Leanna is looking forward to her new role within GEM. Leanna is passionate about learning outside of the classroom and promoting learning through the heritage sector. She has two children that keep her busy when she is not working.

Robin Johnson, Museum Consultant (Welsh Curriculum Consultation and Training)

For the past 5 years, Robin has been a self-employed freelance museum education consultant. He specialises in museum learning and skills audits with recommendations for the future. Notable heritage clients have been the University of Birmingham, Avoncroft Museum, Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery and Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum. Recently Robin helped Staffordshire Archives and Museums successfully apply for NLHF funding towards a new History Centre.

For 5 years between 2011 – 2016 he undertook the role of ‘Cultural Curator’ with Kedleston Schools where it was his job to encourage partnerships with cultural institutions and the nine SEND schools in the group across the country.

Between 1995 – 2011, he was the Senior Learning Officer for Coventry Arts & Heritage (now known as Culture Coventry) managing their learning service across all venues. He led the development of policy, strategy, planning, and implementation of museum education and family learning and developed partnership working across the region.

His first museum job, after completing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Museums Studies at the University of Leicester in 1993 was at Stevenage Museum, which proved to be a brilliant experience and gave him an excellent grounding in how a small museum works and thrives.

Before retraining in museum education – following the completion of his PGCE, he was a primary school class teacher for two years full-time and one year part- time as a supply teacher.

Zoe Ridgway, Finance Manager

Zoe has vast experience in the property industry, with her previous role as a Branch Manager which involved managing & training staff, overseeing the operations of the business and ensuring delivery of exceptional customer service. She was also involved with the finance department to ensure accuracy and efficiency in the business. Zoe also has previous experience as an Event Manager and Executive Assistant bringing her transferrable skills to the GEM team. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and dog Flora as well as holidaying in Portugal.

Dr Sadia Habib, JEM Co-editor

Dr Habib is based at the University of Manchester as a Lecturer in Education and also as the Manchester Museum Young People’s Coordinator on the Our Shared Cultural Heritage project.

Dr Dominique Bouchard, JEM Co-editor

Dr Dominique Bouchard is Head of Learning and Interpretation at English Heritage. She is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, University of Leicester and a Clore Fellow.

Devanshi Rungta, Volunteer

Devanshi Rungta is dedicated to dissolving barriers in the arts through inclusive education and community engagement. As the founder of Art Rickshaw, she has been instrumental in making arts education accessible, offering a sanctuary where creativity is unfettered by socioeconomic constraints. Her leadership in orchestrating initiatives like Kalfest reflects a deep understanding of the power of art to bridge divides and her ability to create opportunities for all to partake in the cultural conversation.

Devanshi’s academic work at the RCA, including the innovative “The Personal Shrine Project,” reflects her dedication to decentralising cultural narratives and empowering individual storytelling through museum studies and community-led practices. Her involvement extends across several learning teams at notable institutions such as the V&A Museum, Sir John Soane’s Museum, The British Museum, the National Institute of Design India, Arts Explora, Group for Education in Museums and the Museum of Brands, highlighting her multifaceted expertise in community engagement within the arts sector.

Martin Bazley, Volunteer

Martin manages GEM JISCMail. With 2000+ subscribers, the list connects you with the strongest communication network in the UK relating to museum education. Some subscribers are based overseas.

Following 7 years’ teaching and a year in publishing, Martin worked for 7 years as Online Projects Manager in the Learning Unit at the Science Museum, London and then for 3 years as E-Learning Officer at SEMLAC (later MLA South East).

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