14 May 2024

Welcoming Vannis Jones Rahi: Head of Archives and Collections at Hatfield Park

We are delighted to welcome Vannis Jones Rahi to Gascoyne Estates as our new Head of Archives and Collections at Hatfield Park. In this blog post Vannis shares insights into her career background, what inspires her both within the workplace and beyond, and her initial thoughts and aspirations for her new role.

Vannis is originally from Kansas City, famous for its barbecue, jazz heritage and fountains, of which there are over 200 – making it the city with the second highest number of fountains in the world, second only to Rome.

Possessing a thirst for culture, Vannis took the opportunity to travel extensively around Europe whilst living in the UK.

“I travelled from France to Turkey to Lithuania to Moldova,” said Vannis. “I was so fascinated by how many different cultures, languages, topographies and ecosystems were packed into a single, relatively small landmass, especially coming from a place as expansive and relatively homogenous in some respects as the Midwest USA.”

Vannis chose to pursue her studies at the University of Edinburgh. Having an undergraduate degree in French and history of art, Vannis wanted to study for her bachelor’s degree in an English-speaking country outside of the US, and Edinburgh was rated very highly in humanities at that time. She completed her master’s degree at Glasgow University, and was now equipped with the qualifications and expertise required to thrive in the field of information management.

Vannis’s early career had a strong focus within the public sector, having carried positions at three different universities, the Royal Society, the world’s oldest independent scientific academy dedicated to promoting scientific excellence, and most recently, the Victoria and Albert Museum.

After joining the Gascoyne team, Vannis observed – “Hatfield Park’s rich history, the broader Gascoyne Estates piece and our extensive archives are truly inspiring. It’s an exciting prospect to be able to work with the Marquess and share his passionate interest in preserving an historical collection of international importance. There is a lot to do, with many challenges and opportunities, and I’m really looking forward to making a positive impact on our wonderful collection.”

The small archive team at Hatfield Park is ably supported by volunteer Robin Harcourt Williams, who has worked on the Estate for over five decades, and who made a lasting impression with Vannis when she first met him – “His breadth of knowledge about all things Hatfield combined with his encyclopaedic knowledge of the collections at our disposal is admirable – I suppose this is to be expected after 52 years, but it is impressive nonetheless!”

Vannis has very quickly identified some key areas for growth and improvement at Hatfield Park. These include implementing a comprehensive collections management system, revitalising Gascoyne’s record management practices, establishing sustainable conservation programmes, and creating accessible catalogues for the different categories of estate papers.

With a passion for simplifying operations, Vannis has managed several major projects in her career which have resulted in transformational operational excellence for the organisations she worked for. One of these projects was to develop a workflow and checklist for the rapid implementation of a piece of legislation called the Age Appropriate Design Code, across all departments and campuses in three different countries, for a Scottish university. Also referred to as the Children’s Code, this is an internet safety and privacy code of practice created by the Information Commissioners Office.

At the V&A Vannis lead the development of a methodology for the mapping of archive collections to new storage systems, streamlining the existing operation and bringing discordant resources and workflows into a single, more clearly defined process.

Outside of the work place, Vannis enjoys helping people discover new passions and hobbies.

“I once wandered into a bhangra dancing taster session during my first week at university, and I fell in love with the music and the graceful but powerful athleticism of the dance form.”

The dance originates from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, and is known for its energetic and vibrant movements. Vannis has recently taught bhangra classes at the University of Arts in London, as well as community classes in White City, attracting people of all ages who wouldn’t typically be exposed to the dance through their own cultures.

Vannis envisions Hatfield Park as being a true example of community engagement and vibrancy. By curating exhibitions and creating opportunities to highlight Hatfield’s collections, and by deepening the understanding and appreciation for the estate’s heritage, Vannis’s work with her team aligns with Hatfield Park’s overarching purpose of nurturing vibrant communities and preserving our cultural heritage.



Welcoming Vannis Jones Rahi: Head of Archives and Collections at Hatfield Park - Hatfield Park