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Henry Flynn - Project Curator, British Museum

Tell us a little about your time at Warwick.
My name is Henry Flynn and I studied Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Warwick between 2001 and 2004. What had appealed to me most about Warwick when I was applying for university places was the diversity of the modules offered by the Department of Classics and Ancient History. I looked at different courses at different universities but the one I applied for at Warwick was the one that I thought would be the most interesting and most fulfilling. I was very glad that I made Warwick my final choice as I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and remember with great affection modules such as Introduction to Greek and Roman History with Dr Harry Sidebottom, Roman Britain with Dr Stanley Ireland, and Domestic Space in the Roman World with Dr Zahra Newby.

What did you do after graduating?

Immediately after graduating from Warwick I studied a Master’s degree called the MA City of Rome at the University of Reading. This involved spending two months studying in Rome itself, which was a very rewarding experience indeed. After completing my Master’s I decided that I was interested in a career in museums and so set about applying for jobs on my return home to Liverpool in 2005. After volunteering in their collections stores for several months, I managed to get paid employment with National Museums Liverpool. I worked for them in admin roles for just over a year, but what I really wanted to do was work directly with collections. In 2007 I was lucky enough to be given a job in collections management in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. The subject of numismatics was not something I knew a huge amount about back then, but I was reminded of the lectures on Greek and Roman coinage I had attended at Warwick, given by Dr Stanley Ireland. I got in touch with Stan who was extremely helpful to me when preparing for my interview as well as during my early career at the BM. In addition to gaining a wealth of museum collections management experience, this job has afforded me the chance to travel the world on international object loan trips; major highlights being Australia, St Petersburg and South Korea.

What does your current role involve?

I am still working at the British Museum but now my time is split between two part-time jobs. In 2013 I was appointed to the position of Project Curator for the Money and Medals Network which is an Arts Council England co-funded project that exists to build and develop relationships between UK museums with coin, medal and banknote collections. The subject of numismatics is currently under threat due to a climate of declining specialist expertise in museums and it is my responsibility to gather collections information from institutions wanting to participate, build up a national database on the Money and Medals website, and provide training for people working with these objects.

I have travelled the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and it is through this work that I have been able to reconnect with the Classics Department at Warwick. One of my aims for the Money and Medals Network is the creation of regional sub-networks to aid the sharing of knowledge and expertise. I have been trying to set something up in the West Midlands for some time and held a training event at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in November 2013. A West Midlands network would need someone local with numismatic knowledge to coordinate it. Stanley Ireland, having attended that initial event, stepped in and offered to run a network, hosted by the department which is a centre of numismatic expertise, to support an on-going programme of training for museums in the region.

Earlier this year I was delighted to be able to return to Warwick to hold a follow-up training day in partnership with the department and hosted by Stan, to help kick-start things. It is thanks to the generosity of Stan and the department that this work can continue, which is sure to be of benefit to the whole region. On a more personal level, it is very satisfying for me to enter into a partnership on behalf of the British Museum with the institution where I studied my degree and I am hopeful that this relationship will continue long into the future! So far as I am aware I am one of the few people from my year to go on to work in the same subject area that I studied at university so I am pleased to be able to prove that it is possible to do so; it just takes a lot of patience and perseverance. It’s a very competitive line of work to get into, but certainly not impossible.

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