Week 1 of my Work Placement

Hello! It has been a while because of my dissertation but I have now started my eight week placement at the David Wilson Library Special Collections!

My task for the whole placement is to produce a learning resource for next year’s MA museum studies cohort to use in their module two work. I’ll be doing a bit of digitising, a bit of cataloguing, research, copyright law, oral histories and exhibition (Omeka) work to name a few things. So the next eight will be busy for sure.

I began my placement on the 17th July and my first week has been generally filled with going through the many boxes of the museum collections and looking at what themes are most prevalent in the material. I began in Leicester with Leicester Museum service. There were some interesting documents in there that could definitely be used in my final resource. From then on, I decided that getting a good sweep of the UK would be beneficial to allow next year’s students to compare the different countries and note any similarities and differences. Also, I thought it would be nice to look at places that may not have been studied at before (i.e. not really London or major city based in England). So throughout the course of the week, I delved into these amazing and surprising museums:

  • Aberdeen and the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum
  • Barnard Castle and the Bowes Museum
  • Beaulieu and Beaulieu Palace, Abbey, the National Motor Museum and Buckler’s Hard
  • Belfast and the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens and the Regimental Museum of the Royal Ulster Rifles
  • Bolton and Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Hall-I’-Th’-Wood and Smithills Hall
  • Canterbury and Canterbury Museums
  • Cardiff and the National Museum of Wales, Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum and the Welsh Folk Museum.
  • Derby and Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Chatsworth and Elvaston Castle
  • Devon and the Devon country education committee
  • Doncaster and the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery
  • Dundee and Dundee Museum and Art Gallery
  • Peterborough and Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery and the Thorney Heritage centre

I would say that the most surprising place during my research has been Barnard Castle and the Bowes Museum. I must confess I had never heard of either the place or the museum but Barnard Castle seems like such a pretty little village and I was in awe of the beauty of Bowes Museum. It is a gem that I would recommend that people check out!

Whilst going through the boxes, I made a table detailing box, item, location, description and key themes in order to better remember and highlight the information when I come to review it. But also, because the boxes had not really been catalogued, these tables could act as a better box list in the future for the archives to use.

There has not been any major conservation problems bar just removing rusty staples and replacing them with lovely shiny brass paper clips.

So after a week and a day, I have a document of 106 pages full of different documents that I can start to go through, highlighting material that may be useful for the learning resource.

So that is the plan for the next week, pick out key themes and start doing some more secondary research with library collections and with academic books and articles. This is all to build up knowledge, context and academic theory that I can utilise within the learning resource and that will hopefully help next year’s students.

So although it has not been the busiest week, it has nevertheless been an important one; establishing a foundation on which to build the project and also settling into a new workplace (although this happened so quickly because of all of the lovely staff!!)

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A typical box and some archival equipment on my desk.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned!!

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