Papers of Gene Adams

Scope and Content

Papers collated by Gene Adams relating to her work in museums education, especially for the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) including:

Publications written by Adams relating to museums education [1970s]-1990; papers relating to her work as an art teacher, including writings by pupils and photographs of their work,1960s; papers relating to her educational work at the Geffrye Museum, [1959]-1975; papers relating to her work on various projects relating to the Spitalfields area, 1976-1996, including the Spitalfield trail and related activities created for the Geffrye Museum, conservation of the Spitalfields area, and an exhibition on the history of the area to raise awareness of its endangered architecture which later became a travelling exhibition; papers regarding her work on museums education for ILEA, [1975]-1990, including correspondence, education project based at the historic houses of the Greater London Council (GLC), projects Adams' worked on for other museums in London, in-service teacher training course in museums, the 'Museum Visits' guide including the museum charts, a museums index, survey of the usage of London museums by schools, other surveys relating to museums, correspondence regarding her advisory service for London museums, and other files; papers regarding her work as a freelance educational advisor, 1988-1999; sound and visual recordings relating to her work for the Geffrye Museum and ILEA, [1972-1988]; collection of photographic slides of her educational work mostly relating to her work for the Geffrye Museum, ILEA and images relating to the Spitalfields exhibition, [1974-2002]; general publications collected by Adams during her research on education on museums, including leaflets and teachers packs created by local area museum services or individual museums in the UK and abroad and press cuttings.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gene Adams was a teacher who became a Museums Education Advisor. Adams received a BA in Fine Arts (Hons) from the University of Natal in South Africa in 1953. Soon after graduating she travelled to London and from 1956 to 1957 was employed as Assistant Curator at the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow. During her return to South Africa from late 1957 she worked at temporary experimental museum educational projects at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. She moved to London permanently in May 1959 to take up part time educational work at the Geffrye Museum.

After qualifying as a teacher in 1963 at the Institute of Education, Gene Adams taught at various London schools as an art teacher. In 1970-1974 Adams was seconded to the Geffrye Museum as a part time teacher and became the Teacher in Charge of the Art Room. After a series of activities at the Geffrye in 1974 looking at the history and architecture of the Spitalfields area, Adams helped formed the 'Save our Spitalfields' group who created an independent exhibition in 1979 promoting the Spitalfields area and highlighting the architecture which was at risk of demolition. The exhibition later toured museums in the south east.

In 1975 Gene Adams was appointed the Art and Museum Education Advisory Teacher at the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). Here she developed educational activities in museums and art galleries, including school visits, holiday activities, in-services training courses for ILEA teachers, and general information leaflets for teachers on museums education mostly based at the historic houses of the Greater London Council (GLC). In 1978 she became the ILEA Museum Education Advisor.

When the ILEA was abolished in 1990 there was no place for her role in the new London authorities and she became a freelance museums education advisor. She was also a member of the education committee of Museum of Moving Image (MOMI), (later the NFT/MOMI education committee/South Bank Education Committee.) Adams also wrote articles on museums education for 'Questions' magazine, and ran a course for staff at the Museum Department of Kraftangan, a Malaysia crafts organisation, to help them establish an education service.

As well as her career in museum education, Gene Adams was also a member of the National Council for Civil Liberties and served on the NCCL Executive and its Children's Rights Committee for several years. In 1973 Gene Adams resigned from the STOPP Committee.


The collection has been arranged into the following series to reflect the areas of Adams' work:

GA/1: Publications

GA/2: Teaching Activities

GA/3: Geffrye Museum Projects

GA/4: Spitalfields Projects

GA/5: ILEA Projects

GA/6: Freelance Projects

GA/7: Sound and Visual Recordings

GA/8: Collections of photographic slides.

GA/9: Publications on museums education

The recordings and slides were kept as separate series as they were distinct collections and could not be integrated into the other series.

Access Information


Generally open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form. Notice will be needed for access. Some file are restricted under the Data Protection Act as they contain personal data of individuals who may still be alive. Some audio visual materials are closed as we do not have the facilities to play them.

Acquisition Information

Gene Adams first deposited the collection in 3 stages in 1999, and made additional deposits in 2008.

Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist. Photographs taken by Margaret MacDonald must be acknowledged as such and copyright enquires should be passed to Gene Adams.

Appraisal Information

Weeded of duplicates; records which duplicated information; and records which did not refer to Adams work or education in museums.

Related Material

The records of ILEA are held by the London Metropolitan Archive (ref: ILEA).