Elee Kirk was a researcher and science museum educator, based in Leicester, UK. In 2014 she completed her PhD in the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, in which she researched young children’s experiences in natural history museums. After completing her PhD, she built on her doctoral research, whilst also working in the University of Leicester School of Law, on a project using digital games to explore children’s understandings of the law (Law in Children’s Lives). To find out more about Elee’s research interests and a list of her publications, take a look at her research page.
Elee’s first degree was in Human Sciences from Mansfield College, Oxford University (1999), with a dissertation focusing on the future of human cloning. Her MSc was in Science, Culture and Communication, from the University of Bath (2001), during which she focused particularly on science museums, with a dissertation exploring visitors’ use of interactive exhibits at a hands-on science centre. Central to both of these degrees was the drawing of connections between science and the social sciences and humanities, a way of working and thinking that stayed with her throughout her career and subsequent return to academia.
From 2001, Elee worked at Thinktank, Birmingham science museum, first in the informal learning team, and then as an education officer. During this time she wrote and presented science shows and workshops for schools and families, both in the museum and on outreach. During her seven years at the museum, she led sessions with over 20,000 children. From 2008 to 2009, Elee managed the education programme at the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, leading education projects, developing education resources for schools and families, and organising medically-themed events for the public.
While undertaking her PhD, Elee carried out a number of freelance projects in museum education, evaluation and science communication. She also worked as a Research Assistant on projects at the University of Leicester and the Media Archive for Central England, focusing particularly on public engagement with re-discovered home movies. More recently, she carried out a student consultation for the University of Leicester on the introduction of a new type of degree.
Elee was on the organising committee for two conferences at the School of Museum Studies: Curiouser & Curiouser and Museum Utopias. She also volunteered for the charity Kids in Museums, which campaigns to make museums more family friendly.
Elee was diagnosed with secondary cancer in the January of 2016. She continued to work and publish as her illness progressed over the coming months – writing papers, attending conferences, meeting up with colleagues for informal conversations, and working on the outline for her book, Snapshots of Museum Experience, which was published posthumously.