I am Artemis, a Lower Sixth international student from a local school. I do A-level History, English Language, and Psychology. As a student who is looking at Archaeology and cultural studies as a viable degree/career path, Salisbury Museum was really the best place for me to start.
During my week of work experience – as arranged by the wonderful Ms Bridget Telfer (without her I would not have had this incredible week) – there were chances to sit in with various cataloguing volunteers as well as opportunities to help out with learning activities for kids. I also had the privilege to use the museum’s hidden library, which held extensive information accumulated through the years. Being able to sit in a room full of old books on all sorts of topics ranging from BC through the 17th century to current date was absolutely mind-blowing – all the history and knowledge and stories, documented in words and objects and images, concentrated in one tiny room! It was absolutely wonderful.
MON – ceramics cataloguing and library research
TUE – school group visit and social artefact cataloguing
WED – archaeological and costume cataloguing
THUR – costume cataloguing and library research
FRI – Under 5’s Friday morning
As you can see the schedule was packed with all sorts of behind-the-scenes and hands-on activities that gave a feel of what was entailed in working at a museum in general. Every day was very fulfilling and informative; all the volunteers and staff were ever so friendly and enthusiastic about their work, and really helped with getting used to the museum’s system.
Although my main subject of interest in the museum was Archaeology, I came across the most wonderful thing while doing costume cataloguing. Along with a lawyer’s gorgeous velvet court suit, which had been very well-preserved and that dated back to 1907, its box also contained the rusted tip of the man’s decorative rapier. Now I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to swords and historical weaponry, and even though the tip was only approx. 220mm long, I took about 30 pictures of it in different angles, trying to catch the light so that you can clearly see the blade:
Being able to hold such objects, I think, is really the most wondrous and fascinating part of history and historical preservation. Of course the same thing went for all the other cataloguing that I did, such as the immense number of bone fragments that we were handling so carefully in the archaeology storage, and the delicate microscope slides from the 19th century that were in beautiful leather boxes in the social history cupboards.
One of the most valuable things I have gleaned from this experience is that if you are willing to ask, people in the field are likely willing to help. After a lunchtime discussion with Mr Owain Hughes, Learning Officer, I now have contacts to staff personnel at the Wessex archaeology project – a prospect that would have been beyond imagination were I still studying in Hong Kong (my home and city). My main interest in archaeology lies further in mythological areas, but regardless, the possibility of being able to actually watch an excavation – and possibly even help out!!! – makes me absolutely jittery with excitement. And imagine how impressed university admissions officers would be…!
None of this would have been accomplished without the museum giving me this opportunity of a week-long student placement. From the depths of my heart, thank you sincerely to all who I’ve come in contact with through this priceless learning experience. And a huge thank you to the Salisbury Museum.
This warms the cockles of my heart!