Museum Internship? Challenge accepted!
Well those 11 months passed quickly, where did the time go? It is hard to believe that the transition from completing my Masters, applying for the internship, securing the role, and now starting a new job has all taken place over the last year. A year of new experiences, learning opportunities and exploring heritage sites.
Teaching an old dog new tricks
The internship provided me with the opportunity to have practical, hands on engagement within the heritage sector. Putting into practice the theory that I had learnt during my Masters, I gained experience through working within the museum setting. The internship brought forward some personal challenges, such as living by myself and discovering a new city. As the oldest intern, I felt I had a lot to learn, both inside and outside of the workplace.
Whilst at Culture Syndicates, I have had the chance to undertake audience evaluation, surveying and audience engagement. I have also attended training on topics such as the care of ephemerals and object handling, as well as participating in conferences, including MDEM and GEM. The latter provided me with the opportunity to network and meet heritage professionals, as well as finding out what the current debates are surrounding access, interpretation and funding.
We have visited lots of different sites, from small to large local authority museums. We even visited an RAF base, where one of the officers described us interns as ‘Turbo Museum Geek Curators’. I have also conquered my fear of Twitter by regularly participating in Monday’s #MuseumHour. Embracing social media was easy but I have a long way to go yet. I developed a reputation for being the person to try all the different activities at events and site visits and took every opportunity to try on the fancy dress. Not sure where they got that idea from…
Mansfield, Music & Me
I’m very grateful for having been allocated Mansfield Museum for my internship placement. They have provided me with guidance on projects and the responsibility and freedom to explore ideas, whilst always having confidence in my abilities, even when I lost it in myself.
I have researched, curated and produced two touring exhibitions that are currently travelling around the libraries within the Mansfield area. That wasn’t something I thought I would be saying at the end of this internship. I also ran music related workshops, allowing me to listen to some wonderful personal memories and stories from locals residents. Fortunately, I was then contacted by Paul Robson from BBC Radio Nottingham who shared the ‘Soundtracks of My Life’ of the visitors to the Museum. This was in conjunction with my ‘Mansfield, Music & Me’ loan box project. The first annual Health and Wellbeing festival at the Museum enabled me to promote the positive impact of music on life.
The monthly Reminiscence Tea Room has provided the opportunity for tea, cake and conversation, which has established a few favourites and me being referred to by one of the attendees as her ‘little museum friend’. I have thoroughly enjoyed my work with the Mansfield My Sight Group, running object handling sessions and leading activity sessions with the residents of Poppy Fields. As such, I have learnt so much about the Mansfield area. I even received homework from one of the residents (see my August blog on Community Outreach to find out more).
Everyone at the Museum have been so welcoming. I was made to feel like part of the family and I will be sad to be leaving.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
The internship has definitely been about teamwork, whether working in pairs, groups of three or as a complete unit. Each intern brought something different to the table, whether that was knowledge and experience or important contacts. Even the ability to bake a cake that not only catered for all my allergies, but was also vegan friendly! They have been patient with all my questions and my love of spreadsheets and typeface Century Gothic. Everyone has always being willing to help with my projects and I have learnt a lot from them all.
They have kept me sane over the last 11 months, providing both entertainment and company in and outside of work. I wish them all the best of luck in their future careers and I hope our paths cross again.
The next big step
I have been fortunate to secure the role of Duty Officer at the DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Eastwood, staying in Nottingham for another year. When I visited, I was transported back to the early 1900s and immersed into the life of Lawrence and his family. It will be exciting to see where this role takes me, especially as it is my first official museum job, as I develop my career and establish my position within the heritage sector.
Its time I got reading and discovered the wonderful creations of this local literary figure.
I would like to extend my thanks to all those at Culture Syndicates, Mansfield Museum, Clare Pickersgill (my mentor), Paul Robey (BBC Radio Nottingham), and all the wonderful people* that I have engaged with over the last 11 months, for making me feel welcome to the area and providing me with a myriad of experiences.
*Apologies if I have missed anyone out: you’ve all been great!
By Anne-Marie Rooney, Resilience Syndicate Intern