Natasha Bennett is the Curator of Oriental Collections at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
Natasha studied History at the University of Durham (2004 – 2007). Following a brief career diversion into the editorial and publishing world, she went on to gain her MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Leeds (2009 – 2010) and secured a six-month exhibitions internship at the V&A. She joined the Royal Armouries in March 2011 as Curatorial Assistant for the Oriental Collections and became Assistant Curator in 2013. She was confirmed as Curator of the Oriental Collections in 2017.
Natasha works with the Asian and African collections at the Royal Armouries. These include an enormous spread of arms and armour mostly dating from between the 14th and 20th centuries, so her research interests are necessarily wide-ranging. She has presented specialist study sessions and seminars on mounted warfare in Asia, South Asian arms and armour, Islamic arms and armour, Asian swords, and textiles in Japanese armour.
Current research activities
- Arms and armour associated with the use of the horse in Asian and African warfare.
- The collecting context behind accumulations of Sudanese arms and armour by the Royal Armouries and in other collections across the UK.
- Investigation of an intriguing group of square-barrelled matchlock muskets from India.
- 'Armour for an Age of Peace' (The Making of the Samurai in Tokugawa Japan, Ax:son Johnson Foundation, Engelsberg Ironworks, Sweden, May 2017)
- 'From Victorian documentation to 21st-century crowd curation? The ongoing process of cataloguing the Oriental Collection at the Royal Armouries' (All Depends Upon the Brave: Recent Research into Museum Collections of Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Asian Arms and Armour, The Wallace Collection, September/October 2016)
- 'The elephant in the room: world views in the current displays of Indian arms and armour in the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds' (Weapons and the Anthropology Museum, Horniman Museum, February 2015)
- 'The East India Company gift to the Tower of London in 1853' (a collaborative paper with Dr Thom Richardson at East Meets West: Diplomatic Gifts of Arms and Armour between Europe and Asia, Tower of London, September 2013)
- 'Armour for an Age of Peace' in the anthology of lectures given for The Making of the Samurai in Tokugawa Japan (Stockholm: Ax:son Johnson Foundation, forthcoming)
- '"Relating to a country so distant": Collecting South Asian arms and armour at the Tower of London during the nineteenth century' in Sourcing South Asia (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, forthcoming)
- 'Arms, armour and archives of Sudan', Symeon (Issue 7, 2017), pp.32-37
- 'India' in Asiatische Blankwaffen/Asian Edged Weapons: Catalogue Raisonné of the Asian Edged Weapons in the German Blade Museum Solingen, ed. by B. Grotkamp-Schepers and Maximilian Berkel (Duetsches Klingenmuseum: Solingen, 2016) pp.92-99.
- 'The elephant in the room: perspectives in the displays of Indian arms and armour in the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds', in Weapons and the Anthropology Museum (London: Horniman Museum, forthcoming)
- Thom Richardson and Natasha Bennett, Indian Arms and Armour, 2nd edition (Leeds: Royal Armouries, 2015)
- Thom Richardson and Natasha Bennett, 'The East India Company Gift to the Tower of London in 1853', in East Meets West: Diplomatic Gifts of Arms and Armour between Europe and Asia (Leeds: Royal Armouries, 2014), pp.112-138
- Natasha Bennett, 'A consideration of a series of x-rays of Asian pivoted matchlock mechanisms', Arms and Armour, Vol.10, No.1 (2013), pp.14-29
- Natasha Roberts, 'Review: Plundered and rebuilt: The Polish Military Museum during the Second World War and after, by Roman Matuszewski and Jolanta Kozimor. Warsaw: Polish Ministry of Defence, 2007', in Arms and Armour, Vol.9 No.1 (2012), pp.85-88