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At this time of year it is always very busy at the museum, as we welcome students from a variety of institutions – school, colleges and Universities – who opt to join us for a while as part of their on-going experiential education…

Here is another, Olivia…

Before the summer holiday, I spent a week working with the Salisbury Museum. As an ambitious art history student, this was the perfect place where I wanted my work placement to be. I was assigned to do a variety of tasks working with different people during the week, which allowed me to learn a lot about the way that a museum works ‘backstage’.

I started my week at the museum by cataloguing ceramics collections with the friendly volunteer Roy Wilde. I was immersed in the tranquil atmosphere of the ceramics gallery and all the beautifully crafted potteries. To begin with, Roy showed me several types of jugs and bough pots with different modelling. We discussed how a museum person would describe pottery in a professional manner and I learned the way to measure each item accurately. Roy then introduced Modes, which is the software that the museum uses to catalogue the archives, giving me a taste of how the cataloging of collections works in such an organised and logical way. In the afternoon I was given an informative spotlight tour of the museum, which deepened my understanding of the history of the museum and each gallery.

Other assignments included lending a helping hand to visitors. On Tuesday, I assisted with a primary school visit to the museum. As the theme of the day was ‘surviving the Stone Age’, I helped set up the lecture hall and the game for the children. It was a fabulous chance to get involved with an educational and interesting programme that the museum designs to introduce basic skills of archaeology to the next generation. Apart from this, I had a lot of fun working with kids!

I also enjoyed the costume cataloguing, and was shown some precious male court dress and an intricate hand-embroidered skirt. It has given me an opportunity to learn about the historical context of the costume and the significance of the materials. Beyond my expectations, I found cataloguing the social history collections immensely absorbing, which I hadn’t realised before. We examined a large number of fascinating collections dating from centuries ago. For instance, we looked at some extremely exquisite English seals from the 18th century, including one of Shakespeare! We also catalogued a set of roundels with incredibly detailed and ornamental printings that represents each month. Besides being intrigued by these magnificent curios, I was taught how to wrap and label each item properly.

It has been an absolutely amazing week. I’ve had a chance to work in different areas of the museum and have definitely learnt various aspects about a museum workplace. Salisbury Museum has such a lovely team working in a relaxed and friendly environment, where everyone is so accommodating and helpful. All I can say to the museum is a huge thank you.

And thank you, Olivia!