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Claire Warrior MA (Hons), MSt

Claire Warrior MA (Hons), MSt

PhD Candidate

Claire works on the history of material culture and museum collections from the Polar regions. Her PhD research concerns the ways in which museums have shaped interpretations of Polar collections, and how these interpretations have been presented to the public, British constructions of the Poles, their contribution to national identity, and how they have changed over time. As part of her work, she has also spent time interviewing the descendants of Polar explorers, to examine the intersection between family and national histories.


Claire has been interested in museums and the objects in them since her undergraduate training in social anthropology. She has worked in the museum sector since 1995, beginning as a volunteer at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology in Cambridge, and then moving, via the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, and Liverpool Museum, to the National Maritime Museum (NMM), London in 2001. She was responsible for 2005's major temporary exhibition, Nelson & Napoléon, commemorating the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, and now manages the NMM's interpretation team. Her regional interest in North America began when she wrote her Masters essay on model crest poles from the Northwest Coast of Canada. Since then, she has researched collections from the Southwestern United States and Subarctic and Arctic Canada. She is currently leading the interpretation for the NMM's Endeavour project, and curating the Museum's new Polar Worlds gallery.


  • March 2008-present. Senior Curator of Exhibitions, National Maritime Museum, London.
  • November 2003-March 2008. Curator of Exhibitions, National Maritime Museum, London.
  • September 2001-November 2003. Assistant Curator of Exhibitions, National Maritime Museum, London.
  • October 1999-September 2001. Cataloguer, DCF Cataloguing Project, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.
  • May 1999-September 2001. Indexer. Anthropological Index Online, Royal Anthropological Institute, London.
  • November 1998-May 1999. Assistant Curator (Documentation), Department of Archaeology & Ethnology, Liverpool Museum.
  • October 1997-November 1998. Curatorial Assistant, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.


  • Certificate in History, Birkbeck College, University of London. 2001-2003.
  • Master of Studies in Ethnology & Museum Ethnography, Exeter College, University of Oxford. 1996-1997.
  • MA Honours in Archaeology & Anthropology, Queens' College, University of Cambridge. 1993-1996.


This research focuses upon the Polar collections of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. It will explore historic and contemporary meanings of the collections, attempt to understand how these meanings have been created and reshaped, and analyse their links to notions of identity – personal, social, ethnic and national – in UK and other contexts. It will underline the relevance of historic collections today and foreground the unique ways in which objects can offer multiple perspectives into histories of exploration, through their connection of people with places, both physically and imaginatively.

The specific research questions informing this project are:

  • How have the Poles been represented through material culture?
  • How are family history and national history connected?
  • How does place matter in the understanding of collections?
  • What is the relationship between individual explorers, families and the nation?
  • What contribution do artefacts make to the mythologies surrounding historic figures? How have such mythologies been used in discourses of the nation? Are there alternatives?
  • Why are certain historic events not remembered in public discourses of history? Are they remembered elsewhere?
  • Whose histories have been foregrounded in understandings of these collections? Does this matter?
  • How can historic collections contribute to contemporary processes of identity formation?

My research is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, as part of the Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme. It is a partnership between the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, and the National Maritime Museum, London.

AHRC logo


Publications and selected reviews

  • Warrior, C. and John McAleer (2015), 'Objects of exploration: expanding the horizons of maritime history'. Published in Geography, Technology and Instruments of Exploration, edited by Fraser MacDonald and Charles W. J. Withers (Ashgate, 2015).
  • Warrior, C. (2015) Review of First nations, museums, narrations: stories of the 1929 Franklin Motor Expedition to the Canadian Prairies by Alison K. Brown. British Journal of Canadian Studies (28:1): 121-2.
  • Warrior, C. (2013) Review of An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the heroic age of Antarctic science by Edward J. Larson. Journal of Maritime Research 15(2): 234-6.
  • Warrior, C. (2013) '"On thin ice": the Polar collections at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich'. Museum History Journal 6(1): 59-73.
  • Warrior, C. (2011) 'Arctic "relics": the construction of history, memory and narratives at the National Maritime Museum'. Published in The Thing about Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation, edited by Sandra Dudley, Amy Jane Barnes, Jennifer Binnie, Julia Petrov, Jennifer Walklate (Routledge, 2011).
  • Warrior, C. (2010) Review of Mediating Knowledges: Origins of a Zuni Tribal Museum by Gwyneira Isaac. Journal of Museum Ethnography 23: 166-84.
  • Warrior, C. (2009) Review of Journey to the New World: London 1606 to Virginia 1607 at the Museum In Docklands, London and A New World: England's First View of America at the British Museum, London. Journal of Museum Ethnography 21: 272-77.
  • Warrior, C. (2008) 'Objects of trade: an introduction'. Journal of Museum Ethnography 20: 13-16.
  • Warrior, C. (2005) Review of A Warrior I Have Been: People of the North American Plains, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Journal of Museum Ethnography 17: 269-71.
  • Warrior, C. (2003) "'A small collection from New Mexico and Arizona'; Barbara Freire-Marreco in the Southwestern United States, 1919-23." Journal of Museum Ethnography 15: 115-30.
  • Warrior, C. (2003) Review of Behind the scenes at the Science Museum by Sharon Macdonald. Journal of Museum Ethnography 15: 144-46.
  • Warrior, C. (2000) Review of Trading identities: the souvenir in Native North American art from the Northeast, 1700-1900 by Ruth B. Phillips. Canadian Journal of Native Studies 20(1): 220-21.
  • Warrior, C. (2000) Review of Raw histories: photographs, anthropology and museums by Elizabeth Edwards. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 31(2): 229-30.
  • Warrior, C. (2000) Review of Dream spaces: memory and the museum by Gaynor Kavanagh. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 31(2): 230-32.
  • Warrior, C. (2000). Review of Inuit art: an introduction by I. Hessel. Journal of Museum Ethnography 12.
  • Warrior, C. (1999) "'Small meetings across cultural boundaries': model totem poles and the imagination of cultures on the Northwest Coast of America." Journal of Museum Ethnography 11: 105-20.

Conference Papers

  • October 2012. 'The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London: institutions and Inuit collections before 1913'. 18th Inuit Studies conference, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA.
  • August 2012. '"On thin ice": displaying the Poles at the National Maritime Museum'. National Maritime Museum staff research seminar, London.
  • June 2012. 'Questions of definition: thinking about anthropology and the National Maritime Museum'. Anthropology and the world conference, the Royal Anthropological Institute and the British Museum, London.
  • May 2012. 'Objects of exploration: collections and approaches at the NMM' (with Dr John McAleer). Instruments of exploration workshop, University of Edinburgh and RBS-IBG, London.
  • December 2008. "Arctic 'relics': the construction of history, memory and narratives at the National Maritime Museum". Material Worlds conference, University of Leicester.
  • November 2008. "Collecting the Arctic, displaying relics: understanding 'ethnographic' artefacts in the National Maritime Museum". American Anthropological Association conference, San Francisco, USA.
  • September 2008. 'The National Maritime Museum: an unexpected resource'. Native Studies Research Network colloquium, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.
  • September 2007. 'Revisiting Arctic collections at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich'. Technologies of Polar Travel AHRC workshop, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.
  • May 2005. 'The North American collection of George Back, R.N.'. Collecting Artefacts, Acquiring Empire workshop, National Maritime Museum, London.

External activities

  • Member, Museum Ethnographers' Group.
  • Member, Native Studies Research Network.
  • Member, Historical Geography Research Group.
  • Member, Museums and Galleries History Group.
  • Member, London Interpretation Network.