The Holburne Future Collective release monthly blog posts, including behind the scenes insight, exhibition reviews, comment, and opinion pieces.

We deem it important to have young people’s voices heard in the arts, museums and heritage sector’s.

My Favourite Piece in the Holburne Collection – Portrait of Queen Charlotte
19 May 2023

By Sadie Pitcher: Holburne Future Collective Member

Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), Studio of Johan Zoffany (1733-1810), Oil on canvas, about 1766

When wandering through the gallery during my volunteering hours, this portrait of Queen Charlotte always catches my eye. Perhaps it is the assured eye contact that Queen Charlotte commands or the elegant details of her flowing dress, but I am always captivated.

This painting is my favourite piece from the collection because of the elegant and detailed way the dress, with its lace and floral details, are painted. I also love the painting for its contrasting colour pallet of bright blues and muted reds. These details are what drew me to the painting before I knew the interesting story of the sitter. Once I had researched a little about Queen Charlotte and her story it became a firm favourite.

This painting is a framed oil painting of Queen Charlotte from the studio of Johan Zoffany from around 1766. Sophia Charlotte was Queen of Great Britain and Ireland as the wife of King George III from 1761 until her death in 1818. When this portrait was painted, she was in her early twenties and already the mother of four children, going on to have fifteen children in total. This portrait was painted by Johan Zoffany, a German neoclassical painter. Zoffany held the patronage of Queen Charlotte, who was a keen patron of the arts. Neoclassicism drew inspiration from the art and culture of antiquity after the discovery of Roman ruins in Pompeii and the publication of an influential history of ancient art in 1764 by German scholar Winckelmann.

Specifically, neoclassical painting revived an interest in symmetry and simplicity. While Queen Charlotte’s dress is anything but simple, the muted background contrasts to the blue elegance of the dress. The simple composition of the portrait, with Charlotte centrally placed, also adheres to this style of neoclassical painting. The precise definition of Charlotte’s dress and the delicate rendering of her features and hands is also a feature of neoclassical painting. Charlotte is dressed in silk, silver and lace and her hair is dressed in the French style of the time, elegantly bound. One of her gloves is removed to reveal a miniature portrait of her husband. Portrait miniatures were often given as tokens of love and sometimes exchanged during marriage negotiations. By the 18th century miniatures were often worn as jewellery, as seen here with the portrait set into a delicate pearl bracelet. Portrait miniatures were also worn as necklaces or rings. This show of intimacy and love towards her husband is a purposeful declaration with the decision to reveal it with the removal of the glove. This portrays Charlotte as a woman of elegance, taste and a devoted wife and Queen.

This taste extends to the Queen’s love of music. Queen Charlotte and her husband were connoisseurs of music, loving the work of composers such as Handel and Mozart. Mozart’s Opus 3 was dedicated to the Queen when it was published in 1765. The Queen was also an amateur botanist and founder of Kew Gardens.

With the recent releasing of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story on Netflix on the 4th May, famously filmed at the Holburne, the discussion of whether Queen Charlotte was the first black Queen is of even more interest. In an article for The Guardian, Stuart Jeffries discusses different historical opinions on the subject. Historian Mario de Valdes y Cocom argues that her features were conspicuously African, and further claims that she was directly descended from a black branch of the Portuguese Royal Family. Many historians are sceptical about this theory, however, arguing that the “generational distance between Charlotte and her presumed Africa forbear is so great as to make the suggestion ridiculous.” Nevertheless, the new series of Bridgerton centres on the story of Queen Charlotte who is based on the real-life wife of King George III and played by Golda Rosheuvel. The young Queen Charlotte is played by India Ria Amarteifio. As Meilan Solly writes the show “takes substantial liberties with the historical record, portraying Charlotte as a black woman whose marriage opened doors for people of colour in 18th-century England.” Bridgerton is a Shondaland production, headed by Shonda Rhimes. Shondaland’s shows frequently centre strong but complex black female characters including Bridgerton, How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story chronicles how the young queen ascended the throne and married King George III. Showrunner Chris Van Dusen explains that the “show is for a modern audience, featuring modern themes and characters, so we took liberties in our re-imagining. Our take on race in the series is an example of how we mixed history within a fictional world.”

The life of Queen Charlotte, the debates about her black ancestry and her connection with her husband through the arts and nature are deeply fascinating. Her captivating look within this portrait invites the viewer to speculate about her life, interests, and story. While we will never truly know her ancestry or feelings, this portrait affords us a glimpse into her position as a curious, artistic, and loving mother, wife, and Queen.


Eleanor Bley Griffiths, “Who was Queen Charlotte and was she Black, as seen in the Bridgerton spin-off?” Radio Times, 6th May 2023

“Framed oil painting: Queen Charlotte (1744-1818),” Holburne

Meilan Solly, “The Real History Behind ‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story,’” Smithsonian Magazine, 5th May 2023

Stuart Jeffries, “Was this Britain’s first black queen?” The Guardian, 12th March 2009

From the Gallery to the Archive: Documenting a Deinstall
17 April 2023

By Emma Matthews: Holburne Future Collective Member 

Once an art exhibition has been installed in the museum, before its doors are opened to the public, the countdown to its deinstall process begins. But what exactly takes place during the systematic deinstallation of an exhibition? This article will take you behind the scenes of the exhibition deinstall of ‘Elisabeth Frink: Strength & Sensuality’ from start to finish.

On Friday the 9th of January, in the closed and seemingly quiet museum, work had begun preparing the galleries for an exhibition rotation. The first step in reverting the gallery back to a blank canvas involved removing the information labels, placed next to each work, which included context about each artwork. The careful and meticulous removal of the eleven wall-mounted artworks then followed. To conserve the artworks’ condition, the framed works on paper were placed on foam bricks whilst awaiting their subsequent transfer down into the Holburne’s storage facility. Blu-tack-stained dots and screw holes on the gallery walls were now the only trace of the dismantled exhibition, soon to be covered up by a new coat of paint and new artworks.

Deinstallation process of ‘Elizabeth Frink: Strength & Sensuality’.  The Wirth Gallery. Holburne Museum. Emma Matthews 2023

Following Frink’s works on paper, her bronze sculptures, which were displayed on the exterior wall of the gallery, were removed along with the plinths which encased them. During this handling process, the sculptures were held with gloves to protect the bronze from any damage. The gloves also served as a barrier protecting the handlers from any irritation that the sculptures’ materials or surface could cause. Ensuring the sculptures’ condition would be preserved for any future viewings or exhibitions, they were placed into storage boxes with tissue paper for padding to be stowed.

Down in the stores, the frames enclosing Frink’s works on paper were delicately opened one by one, with each one revealing a print inside. Unlike with the sculptures, the works on paper were handled gently with clean hands as fibres from cotton gloves could catch easily on the fibres of the paper, potentially causing a tear on the surface of the artwork. Once they had been removed from the frame, the works were carefully returned to their permanent location in the stores. To protect the works on paper inside the folder, each artwork was layered in between large pieces of tissue paper to preserve and protect the objects. Once all the framed works had been unframed, assessed, and stored the bespoke frames were packaged with bubble wrap to be exported to an external storage facility.

Deinstallation process of ‘Elizabeth Frink: Strength & Sensuality’.  Holburne Museum. Emma Matthews 2023

Following and documenting the deinstallation reveals how complex and meticulous this journey from the gallery to the store really is. The success of the process depends on the ability of the curators, handlers, technicians, and experts being able to work simultaneously alongside each other to ensure the artworks remain in their perfect condition throughout. However, once the deinstall is complete and the store doors are closed shut, there is no time to waste as the work to install a new exhibition begins… consequently starting the countdown to a deinstallation process all over again.

By Emma Matthews
Edited by Emily Scarborough

17 March 2023 

 By Emma Brown: Holburne Future Collective Member

We all have busy lives with work, uni, and adulting in general, so it might be hard to find time to do the things we actually want to. The Holburne Museum, works with a young person’s busy schedule with free monthly after-hours events, called Up Late.


Up Late is a project sponsored by The Holburne Museum that’s hosted by various organisations with an interest in the arts. Up Late showcases the museum’s relationship with the new generation and celebrates their involvement in the arts.  Guests are invited to explore the permanent collections for free, receive discounted entry into temporary exhibits, such as Alberta Whittle’s Dipping Below A Waxing Moon, The Dance Claims Us For Release, and enjoy music and drinks in the Garden café and Terrace.


Young people from different organisations such as Holburne Future Collective, Make it New, Bath Spa University and University of Bath.

Up Lates run on the last Friday of the month all year round apart from December.


The next Up Late will be hosted by Bath Spa University Textile Design for Fashion and Interior on March 31 at 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Check the Holburne website to see all upcoming Up Lates.


We are a group of young people between 15 and 25. Members can gain a wealth of experience to help with confidence, enhance their CVs and gain work experience essential to securing work in the museum and heritage sector. The Holburne Future Collective meet once a month and write blog posts for our website as well as creating social media content. Most recently, members of the collective had the opportunity to conduct, film, and edit a video interview with Alberta Whittle about her exhibition at the museum.

We launched the Future Collective through running an Up Late at the end of February and it was a roaring success.

Our guests had access to the café, multiple viewings of our exclusive interview with artist, Alberta Whittle, and a craft station where they could make a collage and put it on display.  By the end of the night, collectively, our guests made a beautiful piece of art in the shape of the Future Collective logo! During the event, we had our Future Collective members taking and handing out free polaroid pictures to anyone who wanted one! Throughout the museum, we also had three questions that the guests were encouraged to answer.

When guests entered the lobby of the museum, they were greeted by the question: “What barriers are there for young people in the arts?”. To create an open dialogue, we invited our guests to write their answers on sticky notes and place them on the question board.  We really wanted to get everyone thinking about the relationship between museums, art and the involvement future generations. Most people responded to our first question saying that art preserves our culture and allows us to express our individuality.

On the first floor, museum goers were faced with another question: “How and why should the next generation get involved in the arts?”. Once again, we received many wonderful answers with several people seeming to agree that the future of art is dependent on the actions of the younger population.

On the top floor, we posed one last question to our guests: “What does the future of museums look like to you?”. It was arguably the hardest question to answer, but our guests blew me away with some of their fantastic replies! My favourite answer was that museums will be more collaborative with the broader community and truthful with their collections’ origins. Truly, I couldn’t hope for a better future than one where museums thrive on inclusivity and honesty.

Our goal in asking these questions was simple: we want young people to feel like they can get involved in the art world without fear of judgement or pressure! As proven by   several of the answers we received throughout the night, it’s clear that us young people don’t always feel like we’re free to engage in the arts. Reasons why include unclear funding, being told there’s a lack of jobs in the art and museum sector, we don’t have enough experience, or the stigma that is associated with learning Art History.


As a member of the Future Collective,   I find myself facing the same problems that our guests voiced when trying to become involved in art and museum sectors.   However, organisations such as the Future Collective help with getting a foot in the door and providing the experience I need for a future career in the arts. To me, if more museums take the step to reach out to young people, like the Holburne is doing, then I think the future for young people in the arts will be bright.

Written by Emma Brown
Edited by Emily Scarborough