Peter Lester



Twitter: @pablester

AHRC Midlands3Cities profile

Research Interests

Thesis title: The Archival Exhibition: new ways of creating meaning from archives and broadening access to our documentary heritage

The research explores influences on and approaches to archive exhibitions, examining how archivists can develop innovative displays which fully utilise our understanding of the historical and material significance of archives. The project will develop thinking around the unique interaction with a 'real object' provided within an exhibition, using case studies to explore how archivists create meaning through interpretation and the use of design and space, and by drawing on recent scholarship in museum studies around exhibition and architecture.  Underpinning the research is the aim of providing a full understanding of how archive displays can engage with audiences and widen access to our rich, documentary heritage.

My research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership.


  • Professor Suzanne MacLeod, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester
  • Professor Emerita Elizabeth Edwards, formerly Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University 

Academic Qualifications

  • Master of Archives and Records Management, University of Liverpool (Distinction)
  • BA (Hons) History, University of Durham (2:1)


  • Principal Archivist, Nottinghamshire County Council, 2015
  • Principal Archivist (Records Management and Electronic Services), Nottinghamshire County Council, 2014 - 2015
  • Archivist (Public Services), Nottinghamshire County Council, 2003 - 2014
  • Library Assistant, Special Collections and Archives, University of Liverpool, 2001 - 2002

I am a professionally qualified archivist with over ten years' experience within the archives profession.  My experience includes managing and delivering learning and outreach services, the corporate records management service, reprographic services and archive-related IT systems for Nottinghamshire County Council; collections management; public search room and enquiry service delivery; and line management and supervision of staff members and volunteers.


Academic Papers and Presentations

  • 'Archive Exhibitions', teaching session for MARM students, Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS), University of Liverpool, 10 May 2018
  • 'Exploring Archive Exhibitions', Archives and Society seminar, Institute for Historical Research, University of London, 8 May 2018
  • 'Opening the Case: Reframing Visitor Engagement with Archive Exhibition', Archival Education and Research Institute (AERI) conference: Windows, Frames, Landscapes, Toronto, 10 - 14 July 2017
  • 'Logic of the Archive: a CDF initiative' (with Natasha Barrett), M3C Research Festival, 25 May 2017
  • 'Alternative Approaches to Archives', Logic of the Archive, M3C day workshop, 27 April 2017
  • 'The Archival Exhibition: a contextual argument for research', School of Museum Studies Research Week, University of Leicester, 22 June 2016
  • 'Marks on Surfaces: different approaches to documents', five-minute research relay presentation and digital story, M3C Research Festival, Nottingham, 17 May 2016
  • 'Bringing Collections to the Visitor: archives as works of art in the design of new archive repositories', Future of Museum and Gallery Design conference, Hong Kong, 13 - 15 November 2015
  • 'Learning to Read: Archives and Palaeography', The Archivist as a Teacher, Archives and Records Association (ARA) Archives for Learning and Education Section annual conference, 2014
  • 'Creating an Online Exhibition: Exploring the Electronic Environment and the Opportunities presented by the Internet', An Introduction to Display, Archives and Records Association (ARA) East Midlands Region training event, 2006


  • Forum for Archives and Records Management Education and Research (FARMER)/Society of Archivist prize for dissertation, 2004
  • Alexander R Myers Memorial prize for highest attainment in my year, 2003


  • Archives and Records Association (ARA) (Registered Member; Secretary of the East Midlands Region, 2007 - 2013)
  • Museums Association (MA)
  • International Council on Archives (ICA)


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