Volunteering at the Salisbury Museum is always a challenging but rewarding experience.

For the last few months a group of us have been working alongside Jane Ellis-Schon, the Project Curator, on the Finding Pitt-Rivers Project. We have measured, documented, ‘wondered at’ and re-packed many items in the Pitt Rivers Collection, that the Museum is responsible for, from beautiful flint axe heads, jewellery and pottery to animal bones and pieces of pot!

Our keenness and Jane’s foresight lead us to our next experience – to learn a little bit more about conserving the items. Jane organised for a small group of us to attend two courses, both to be held at the Museum.

The first of these took place in the Lecture Hall on Tuesday 3rd February 2015. A one day course facilitated by the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre (Conservation and Heritage) on…..box making!

Funny as it sounds, it is a really valuable skill to learn and will be of great use to Jane’s team as the artefacts need to be re-packed carefully into correctly fitting boxes. The boxes need to be of acid-free cardboard and fit the objects so there is room for packing material and space for ease of handling. Boxes on the market are expensive and often ill-fitting.

After our day of informative instruction by Sebastian Foxley and his assistant (a lovely Australian lady with a Masters in Art Conservation, here in Britain seeing snow for the first time ever), and encouraging our efforts enthusiastically, we learnt how to make a customised box, out of acid-free board, lined with foam, with re-enforced corners and with a lid!

The measuring had to be accurate, the glueing sound, the re-enforcing tape neat and the fit just right.

It was a great day, tiring and challenging, but we all went home feeling better for it with new, relevant skills to use to the Museum’s benefit.

We left with our copy of “Box Making Guidelines”, very proud of our efforts and grateful for the opportunity.

….Next week, conservation in the form of cleaning!

Many thanks to Jane Ellis-Schon, the Project Curator, for organising the day and happily joining in.

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