MultakaOxford volunteers research project


Project details


Project team:

Helen Pooley, Learning Producer

Dr Sumner Braund, John Fell Research Fellow

MultakaOxford volunteers


Donglin Zheng

Phoebe Clothier

Mila Malko

Valerii Malko

Ali Solhi

Oksana Nosenko

Alina Niemi

Evegenii Ziuzin


Supported by Alwaleed Philanthropies


Start date: June 2023


The collection of historic scientific instruments the Museum cares for has an appeal that transcends cultural boundaries.

Working with volunteer researchers is one of the ways the Museum is opening up the collections to a wider range of voices and perspectives.

After choosing objects that aligned with their professional, academic and personal interests, the MultakaOxford volunteers carried out their research using Collections Online (the Museum's online database) and through face-to-face sessions with the Research, Teaching and Collections team.

We will share the volunteers' research through social media, blog posts and information in Collections Online.




This pilot community research project gave MultakaOxford volunteers the opportunity to exercise or develop their research skills in the field of the history of science.


Researchers attended six sessions to explore some of the objects in the collections, and then to select their own object(s) to research.

Dr Sumner Braund supported with sessions on tips for online research and sharing research through social media.

Dr JC Niala shared an overview of decolonial methodology and absence in colonial collections.


The researchers presented their findings to each other in the final session.

Some of them also gave presentations to the Museum team at the November 2023 Staff Meeting.

A number of researchers have written blogs that have been posted online, with more posts planned on the Multaka-Oxford pages.


Blog: The History of the Calculator 

Article: Ali and the Lucernal Microscope



We are currently looking at how to add some of the research to the Museum’s Collections Online database.

This pilot has also led to a follow-up project looking at museum display labels and the voices they represent.

The group valued this project as an opportunity to practise and develop existing research skills that many of them had used in their academic and professional lives across a range of disciplines.

It has also offered further opportunities to develop English language and presentation skills.