I find it difficult to pick one defining moment as there’s been so many exciting events and guests, so I’ve chosen a couple of things that stick in my memory.
In July 1993, during my first week and first walk around the galleries, I spotted Howard Carter’s camera on display; I was so excited that I called my husband. I remember thinking how lucky I was to work here, and how amazing that this camera was the real thing, not a replica!
Bite the Mango 1999—one of my favourite memories and a story I tell often—was when the biggest legend and nicest Bollywood star you could meet, Amitabh Bachchan, was the special guest star at the closing night gala.
During the day he wanted to have a walk around and meet people. It was fairly quiet as people were expected to arrive for the evening event to meet their idol. A young couple were walking towards the museum and saw him just outside the entrance—they could not believe it was him.
I think he enjoyed that chance meeting as much as they did. I loved seeing their reaction, and the whole evening was a night to remember. Pictureville Cinema was a sell out. I vividly remember all the beautiful colours, and the excitement and buzz in the air.
In 2000, the West Wing at the Science Museum was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and I was one of the lucky few chosen to represent this museum. I remember thinking how elegant she was when she walked in the room; she had a very calming effect on everyone in the room.
In 2009, Virginia McKenna was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 15th Bradford International Film Festival. After her on stage interview, I had a chance to meet and have coffee with her.
I sat and listened to her talk about her film career and how her passion has turned to animal welfare and the incredible work she does. During her interview, Virginia quoted the Leo Marks poem The Life That I Have, which was a poem code during the Second World War, and made famous in the film Carve Her Name with Pride (1958). She spoke the poem so beautifully that I almost cried. I’ll never forget that moment.