- Also known as
primary name: Harrison-Hall, Jessica
- individual; curator; British; Female
- Jessica Harrison-Hall is Head of the China Section, Curator of the Sir Percival David Collections of Chinese Ceramics, and of Chinese Decorative Arts and ceramics at the British Museum.
She is a curator with experience of leading curatorial and research teams in the delivery of exciting and complex projects which reimage China’s histories and global relationships through visual and material culture. Using new approaches to interpreting the collection and developing narratives she works to present these for public and academic audiences. She has delivered significant exhibitions, galleries and other interpretation projects and has substantial experience of co-curation and collaboration internationally. She is experienced at developing and sustaining relationships, leading diverse and multi-disciplinary teams and adept at communicating complex narratives through display, publication, digital and public programmes.
Jessica Harrison-Hall is currently Principal Investigator of a major UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) project with Professor Julia Lovell of London University and an international team investigating diverse aspects of Cultural Creativity and Resilience in Qing China 1796-1912. The project will involve an extensive interdisciplinary network of international scholars.
Jessica led the China team, curating, researching and developing content and narrative for the Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia at the British Museum (2015–2017) and for a broad public wrote China: A History in Objects (Thames and Hudson 2017). Now published in 6 languages: English (2017), Italian (2018), Portuguese (2018), Chinese PRC (2019), Chinese ROC (2020), and Korean (2020).
She was Principal Investigator of a major Arts and Humanities Research Council project with Professor Craig Clunas of Oxford University investigating early Ming connections with the wider world (2012–2016). Their research examined the contexts for the Forbidden City and explored the myths and realities of Chinese national hero Zheng He. Research outputs included a major exhibition at the British Museum and book Ming: 50 years that changed China (2014) as well as a popular book Ming: Art, People and Places (2014) and academic conference proceedings Craig Clunas, Jessica Harrison-Hall and Yu-ping Luk (eds.) Ming China: Courts and Contacts 1400-1450 (2016) which won the prestigious 2017 Book Prize Specialist Publication Accolade awarded by the International Convention of Asia Scholars. Curating the exhibition involved working with 30 museums, libraries and collections and those responsible for cultural heritage.
Her other publications include a five-year project to produce a comprehensive catalogue raisonné of 1,000 Ming Ceramics Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics (2001), also translated into 2 volumes in Chinese (Palace Museum, Beijing, 2014). She has curated international exhibitions on Chinese ceramics. Her Vietnamese war drawings show went to Hong Kong and Belgium, accompanied by her book, Vietnam: Behind the Lines-Images from the War 1965-75 (2002). Also as lead curator of the Sir Percival David Collection, Jessica delivered the innovative permanent gallery: Chinese Ceramics in 2009 and wrote, Chinese Ceramics (co-authored with Regina Krahl) translated into Chinese (2013) and on-line catalogue entries for all 1,700 exhibits, accessible through the BM website and ran a project to translate into Chinese 1,700 explanatory texts written by Jessica for Chinese visitors in the gallery, supported by the SPDF Academic Trust and Portrack Charitable Trust live 2020.
Other projects include developing a series of skill-building staff exchanges supported by DCMS as part of UK-China Year of cultural exchange, working in partnership with Tate, British Library, V&A and museums in China (2015-2016) resulting in Selected Records of Overseas Antiquities: British Museum – a collaboration with the National Museum of China (2018). An earlier collaborative project Passion for Porcelain (2012) -British Museum, V&A and National Museum of China resulted in an exhibition in Beijing, a book in both English and in Chinese and a CCTV documentary which attracted 300 million viewers. She was also lead curator of the British Museum’s most successful UK travelling exhibition, China: Journey to the East which attracted nearly half a million visitors, to showcase regional UK collections of Chinese material and engage younger audiences with China, building partnerships with seven UK museums and their curators. It was accompanied by her children’s book Pocket Timeline of China (2007). She was visiting lecturer in Fudan University, Shanghai and lectures internationally on Chinese material culture. Jessica was President of the Oriental Ceramic Society (2015-18) and is now a Member of Council. She is also a Member of Council for the Sir Percival David Foundation Academic Trust; a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; on the Advisory Board for the redevelopment of the Burrell Collection, Glasgow; Trustee of Compton Verney, Warwickshire; on the Advisory Board for Arts of Asia; and on the UK-China Advisory Board for DCMS (Department of Culture Media and Sport).
- Davids and Jellinek," PROVENANCE: Collectors, Dealers and Scholars: Chinese Ceramics in Britain and America", 2011, p. 224;