Meet The Orkney Museum's Team
Islands Digital Collections and Heritage Officer
Originally from a small hamlet in North Ayrshire, Chris has grown up around the museum sector with his family owning and running Dalgarven Mill Museum. He grew up in the museum, doing every job imaginable.
Once he left school he went to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh where he gained an honours degree in Microbiology.
He moved to Orkney to for a maternity cover post working as a marine biology lab technician but soon found his way back to museums in the form of a visitor assistant at St. Magnus Cathedral. From here he became the Custodian at Scapa Flow Museum before finally moving to his current post.
Custodian at Scapa Flow Musuem
Originally from Liverpool, Jude studied archaeology at the University of Durham and became a professional archaeologist and archaeological illustrator, working on excavations in the UK, France, Israel and Poland.
After working for the University of Bradford on excavations on the Orkney island of Sanday from 1984-1988, Jude moved to Hoy in 1989. She joined the staff of Scapa Flow Museum since 2005, first as an Assistant Custodian before becoming Visitor Services Officer in 2009.
Dr Siobhan Cooke-Miller
A whelk from Wyre, Siobhan studied for a degree in history at the University of Dundee before returning home to Orkney in 2006 to undertake a post graduate degree in Archaeological Practice. Siobhan went on to gain a PhD from the Archaeology Institute UHI/University of Aberdeen in 2018, specialising in the archaeology of Viking Age Scotland. Her current research focusses on animals as material culture and human-animal landscapes.
When not thinking/dreaming/visiting archaeology, Siobhan loves to explore the underwater world – the blockships at the Churchill Barriers are her favourite location for snorkelling and diving.
She is one of the Scottish Representatives on the board for the Society for Museum Archaeology.
Visitor Services Officer at Scapa Flow Museum
Originally from the Scottish borders, I moved to Edinburgh in my late teens (After a gap year living in New York) to study for a degree in photography before becoming a freelance photographer.
I worked on Fashion features for a couple of Scottish Newspapers and then worked mainly in Commercial, Advertising and Portraiture photography for a variety of clients and agencies.
After a shift of direction, I moved into Forensics for Lothian & Borders Police then after its formation in 2013 Police Scotland. I spent 18 years working in this challenging field before deciding to try something new.
In the winter of 2021, I relocated up to Orkney and the island of Hoy to a little cottage by the sea with a wild garden, that I have yet to tame!
I started work at Scapa Flow Museum when it reopened in July 2022 after a major refurbishment where I’m learning a whole new set of skills relating to the history of Scapa Flow and its importance in WW1 and WW2 and its impact on the people of Orkney.
Custodian at Orkney Museum
I first worked at Tankerness House Museum in the early nineties, returning to a much-expanded Orkney Museum in 2019, after many years working in education.
What I love most about my role at Orkney Museum is seeking out the matlos* and gabloos* which want to eat our nationally significant collection.
Outside work, I’m a director of Orkney Fossil and Heritage Centre, and a bass and tenor drummer with Kirkwall City Pipe Band.
*Orcadian for wee beasties!
Dr Emma Gee
I arrived in the Autumn of 2019, and I wondered that too! Very quickly I learned that no two days would be the same, and that I’m in one of the most creative places ever! So, what I do is attempt to help folk with being just that.
If you want to chat about your new ideas, have a question about where to find funding to let you build your dreams, need help filling in the application form once you’ve found that potential pot of gold, or if you want to have art or an artist as part of a project then I might be able to help.
I also want to ensure Orkney has a slice of any arts pie that is on offer in Mainland Scotland by bringing cultural offers to our Islands, such as Schools National Touring, Travelling Gallery, Creative Learning Network, The National Gallery and National Touring, as well as ensuring we are part of national cultural conversations.
Emma is the Co-Chair of Mind the Gap Theatre Company in Bradford and is on the Board of Orkney Zero Waste. On days off, Emma gardens, walks, reads, makes things and enjoys Orkney.
Culture Team Leader
Nick Hewitt is the Culture Team Manager, responsible for the Council’s Museums Service and Arts Development. A 20th Century naval historian, he worked at the Imperial War Museum and as Head of Collections & Research at the National Museum of the Royal Navy before securing his dream opportunity to come to Orkney at the end of 2021, just in time to help finish the new Scapa Flow Museum.
Nick is passionate about – some say obsessed with! – Orkney’s wartime built heritage. Outside of work, he is an author, occasional broadcaster, hiker, badminton player, gamer and full-time cat servant.
Custodian at St. Magnus Cathedral
Having studied Scottish History at St Andrews and Edinburgh Universities, I worked as a tourist guide for ten years in Edinburgh, doing ghost tours and taking groups to the battlefields of the First World War.
In 2004 I followed my dream and my Orcadian ancestry, and moved to Orkney, working for seven years in Maeshowe, and also working as a coach tour guide for cruise ship passengers.
I started as Assistant Custodian of St Magnus Cathedral in 2010, and became Custodian in 2012.
Custodian at Kirbuster and Corrigall Museums
I have been employed by Orkney Islands Council for over 17 years, having served as a volunteer in the heritage section since 2001.
Over the last three decades, I have given presentations about Orcadian life and culture, in most of Orkney’s Parishes and Islands.
I continue to demonstrate local crafts and exhibit bygone items at the Orkney Vintage Club Rally and open day events at the Ness of Brodgar.
Through my work, hobbies and interests I strive to celebrate Orcadian culture and heritage .
St Magnus Cathedral Upper Levels Guide
Marita guided her first freelance tours of St Magnus Cathedral in 1995, one year before she moved to Orkney from Germany. In 2001, she became a member of staff, to develop the tours of the Cathedral’s upper levels. For several years, she also worked full time as the main Cathedral custodian. Her enthusiasm for Orkney and the Cathedral, as well as her expertise as a professional storyteller, international keynote speaker and a qualified Orkney guide and guide trainer has helped our upper level tours going from strength to strength from the very start, with an increasing number of visitors from all over the world.
Exhibitions and Education Officer
Born on a small farm in Orkney, my background is in archaeology, history and folklore. I organise the exhibitions programme and also engage with schools, local groups and the media (television, radio, newspapers, etc.).
I am also an author and storyteller and have travelled the world telling traditional folk tales.
I came to work at the museum as Assistant Custodian in 1988 but began setting up exhibitions soon after that. I have always had a fascination for Orkney’s past, in all its many guises, and I hope that I bring that enthusiasm to my work.
Curator (Social History)
I was born and raised in Orkney with the centuries-old Orcadian family name of Baikie, before marrying a Frenchman with an Italian surname and spending my days spelling that name out over the phone.
I studied Fine Art at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen and spent almost two decades working in Orkney Library and archive before taking the leap over to Orkney Museum. I’ve always had a keen interest in people and their stories, piqued by the very varied experiences of my Orcadian forebears and consolidated by the numerous objects offered to us every day, each with their own fascinating tale waiting to be told.
Dr Tom Rendall
Visitor Services Assistant
I was born in Sanday and I worked as a farmer for about 20 years. Whilst on Sanday I studied for an Open University degree. I moved to Kirkwall in 1990 to work as a Tourist Officer. My career in tourism continued with some tour guide work at the Highland Park, Minehowe and the Tomb of the Eagles
I became a Lecturer in Tourism at Orkney College in 2001 and worked towards obtaining a PhD – through the UHI – with my topic being the factors which influence the use of dialect in Orkney. I
I started work at Orkney Museum in 2007. I have been doing part-time custodial duties ever since. I also have the privilege of working at the St Magnus Cathedral and enjoy sharing my knowledge of the heritage and culture of Orkney with the visitors.
I spent 7 years of my childhood in Orkney in the 1970s . After graduating from Gray’s School of Art in 1993 with a masters degree in Fine Art, I returned to Orkney to start painting as a profession. With 20 solo exhibitions and many group shows under my belt, along with 30 years of experience working in museums and galleries, I feel that I have something to offer working as the museum technician: doing my small part to help look after and present this amazing collection that tells the story of Orkney’s history and heritage.
It is a privilege to work with all these interesting and inspirational old things. Together, we make up a great team.
Dr Annie Thuesen
Visitor Services Assistant at St Magnus Cathedral
I hail from a Danish pig farm but have lived in Orkney since 2017. I came to the islands to do a PhD in sustainable tourism, and stayed for the birds, the culture, the cathedral, and obviously the weather. I love that even my routine tasks in the cathedral are imbued with a certain romance. If I undertake safety checks in the spire on a fine day, I can sneak out and admire the best view in town, and who minds “another day in the office” if your office has stained glass windows and a piscina?
Marianne van der Es
Visitor Services Assistant
Marianne was born in the Netherlands and has lived in the UK since 2003. Before joining the team as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Orkney Museum and St Magnus Cathedral, she worked in various health care settings, in private practice, on a dementia ward, as a live-in carer and with the NHS.
Outside of work, she enjoys archery, playing the cello and wool craft. The photo was taken at the Ness of Brodgar open day, where she demonstrated hand weaving. She is part of Orkney Boreray, a group of crofters and caretakers of Scotland’s rare and ancient breed of Boreray sheep.
“I’ve always had a keen interest in nature and history. It is a privilege to be part of this wonderful team of people, who share so much expertise and knowledge. Orkney’s landscape, heritage, inhabitants, culture and stories are a constant joy and inspiration for my artisan craft.
And before you ask … yes, I have naturally curly hair. I also have hearing loss, and my curls hide my hearing aids well. Just remember that although I can speak two languages, it doesn’t mean I can always hear what you say!”