I am study ‘A’ levels at Kingdown School, Warminster, and during the October half term I was able to do a week’s work experience with Salisbury Museum. I was looking forward to it but I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect beforehand. I’m hoping to study History at University and so I was hoping that the work experience would give me a better insight into careers directly related to history.
On the first day I met the Project Learning Officer, Owain, and he gave me a tour all around the museum and almost bombarded me with knowledge. After a short break from that I created a trail for the temporary John Hinchcliffe exhibition in order to try and get children, in particular, to take more notice of the various exhibits on show and not just rush through. After making this, and being taught how to laminate, I helped out setting up the hall for the Big Draw event that was on the next day. After being told that it’s amazing what you can do with a bit of bunting, I was forced to believe it! Following this, I was asked to go through the Wessex Gallery and photograph my five favourite items which were then posted on the museum’s Twitter and Instagram throughout the week. And one was even retweeted by the Heritage Lottery Fund South West’s twitter page.
On the second day I helped out with the Big Draw Event and became the photographer for the day as I photographed over 100 pictures that the many children had created throughout the day. And I also managed to read around 100 pages of my book! Although I wasn’t exactly doing what I had hoped to be doing so far at the museum, it was still very enjoyable.
On Wednesday I made another trail for Owain but this time for the Ceramics Gallery in the King’s Room. This lovely room almost seems to be forgotten and so I was looking forward to making a trail for it because after paying close attention to the various items in it, I realised how great this exhibition was. So I made a trail, researched and wrote a short biography of James I after whom the room is named. In the afternoon I worked with Valerie and helped with collections. We hunted around the museum for various items that had been requested and it was very intriguing and also surprising to see just how much more the museum has stored away from the public.
On Thursday I was lucky enough to work with the Finds Liaison Officer and I was shown how to identify coins. I was then asked to identify ten coins, nine of which turned out to be Groats and one a half-Groat which all came from either Henry VIII or Edward VI’s reign. I was blown away by how amazing these coins were, especially the ones that were still in very good condition despite being over 400 years old. I was equally surprised by how normal these coins seemed to the Finds Officer who had clearly seen many like them. I was also then tasked with writing the coroner’s report for the treasure and photographing the coins ready to be sent off. This really made me feel as though I was helping out and that I had made something that I could take credit for. Also on Thursday I experienced a spotlight tour with one of the volunteers which was interesting, to see his favourite items within the Wessex Gallery. On the last day I spent the morning with the museum’s curator and helped to repackage and make notes on various items within the Pitt Rivers collection. It was very interesting to learn more about Pitt Rivers, someone I was completely unaware of before my week’s work experience. It was also very fascinating to hear about how the curator got into her line of work and she also gave some very appreciated advice. In the afternoon I made one final trail, this time for the Salisbury Gallery, which again was very interesting to make, as it’s very easy to miss very impressive objects within this gallery in particular.
I really enjoyed my time at the museum and was quite sad to say goodbye on the final day. I left better appreciating all the work that goes on within the museum, in particular the work that goes on behind closed doors. It got me interested in possible careers within museums and I felt I had learned a lot more by the time I’d left, especially in areas that beforehand I didn’t particularly know a lot about.