Sarah Laurenson joined the department in 2017, taking up a new position focused on delivering the department’s contemporary collecting programme. Her role involves collecting objects which reflect major political, social and cultural developments, chime with contemporary concerns, or change our understandings of the past and disrupt dominant narratives about Scottish history. She is also responsible for the Scottish jewellery collection.
Laurenson received her doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. Her thesis, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, examined Scotland’s jewellery craft from c. 1780 to 1914 with a focus on the development of skill and the link between geological knowledge and cultural production across rural and urban areas.
Laurenson has worked as a curator with Museums and Galleries Edinburgh, and as a tutor and visiting lecturer in social history from c.1650-2000 in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. She also has experience as a curator and researcher of historic and contemporary Shetland textiles.
Current research interests include: collecting and collectors; culture, identity and industry in Scotland’s islands; the impact of changing perceptions of Scotland’s past and natural landscape on material culture; the jewellery craft from the 18th century to the present day; and the historical development of craft skill.