I am Alex from one of our local schools and I chose to come to The Salisbury Museum for work experience because of my interest in history. I thought it would be a good opportunity to be behind the scenes in a museum and be able to see the objects not on display. Being at the museum for the week has educated me greatly in new topics as well as ones I have studied. In the week that I have been here, I have participated in lots of different activities, from cataloguing artefacts to shadowing a school trip. These are the things I got up to this week:

Monday 24th June

I arrived at the museum for 10am and was met at reception by Valerie. She showed me around the museum for the induction and orientation session. I was informed of the pins for the doors and the fire exits and what to do when I hear an alarm. Then, from 10:30 until 1pm I assisted Roy in cataloguing ceramics in the display rooms. This was interesting because I was able to handle the old ceramics and was able to describe them and give measurements. Once we had written down the descriptions and measurements, we entered them onto a file on the computer programme called Modes so they are saved there. Once I got back from lunch at 2pm, I met Valerie at reception again, to go to the library to do some research work on something of my choice. I chose to do Clarendon palace. This is because I was intrigued about the history of Clarendon palace and wanted to research this further. I did this task until the end of the day.

Tuesday 25th June

On Tuesday I met Owain at reception at 9:30 to shadow a school trip visit from one of the local primary schools. Owain gave a presentation on Old Sarum for the primary school which was interesting to watch. We then went over to the Wessex Gallery where the children were shown round and they were fascinated by what they saw there. They also had a task to draw Old Sarum from the model in the gallery, and to also draw a gargoyle. After lunch, they were shown round the Salisbury gallery – the giant, the drainage collection and different artefacts on display. We then went back to the lecture hall where we made our own Gargoyles.

Once the school trip had finished, I helped catalogue social history material from 2pm to the end of the day. This involved taking donated items out of their boxes and wrapping them up carefully in non-acidic paper. This was to preserve the items for years to come.

Wednesday 26th June

I arrived at the museum for 10am where I was met at reception by Pat and Tessa to help catalogue archaeological archives. This involved taking the artefacts out of the boxes and wrapping them up better in the non-acidic paper. The first item that we catalogued that morning was 5000 year old antlers that were found at Stonehenge, near the inner circle. These were used by the Stonehenge people to dig the hole for the stones to sit in as the antlers were used as picks or rakes. The next thing that we catalogued was loads of small boxes of animal bones and ceramics found at Stonehenge by Gowland in the early 20th century. These were contained in any boxes it seemed that Gowland could get his hands on. They were in old soap boxes, cardboard containers and metal containers. There was also one in a matchbox. We had to put the bones in a transparent plastic bag, the original label in another bag and put that back in the box which also goes in a bag with a new label added. At the end of this session, I was shown a Bronze Age sword from the archives which was great.

In the afternoon, from 1pm onwards, I was in the library finishing my research of Clarendon Palace. For this task I used the books in the library and also knowledge of the palace that I had picked up through my week at the museum. This is the basis of my other blog.

Thursday 27th June

I arrived at the museum for 10am once again, and was met at reception by Sue, Joan and Muriel. I helped them in cataloguing the costumes/ pieces of clothing donated by people to the museum. These items included a man’s jacket worn at his wedding in the 1920s, and a girl’s clothes from late Victorian times to early Edwardian. This was interesting because it gave an idea of how people used to dress in the early 20th century / late 19th century.

In the afternoon, I did admin support work. This was to correct booklets that were being given to volunteers. I did this by sticking labels over lines that had to be taken out, or by writing the correct information over the labels.  

Overall, this week has been a great week. It was an amazing opportunity working in the museum and seeing how it is all run and how much work has to be done. The staff here are very friendly and I have had great experiences being part of the Salisbury Museum – even just for a week.

Thank you Alex!