The Lecture Hall has been packed today for another of our half-term holiday activities. Thank you to all our Volunteers who make these things possible!
From Francesca Goff, of the British Museum…
At the end of November last year, I spent a fascinating week at Salisbury Museum as part of the British Museum’s Knowledge Exchange programme, a scheme that is supported by the Vivmar Foundation. Having heard excellent things about the programme from colleagues who had previously taken part, I was looking forward to the prospect of spending a week at a different museum learning about its volunteers and all that they did. Additionally, having already hosted Bridget Telfer, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Salisbury Museum, at the British Museum, I was pleased to have the opportunity to catch up with her and continue the conversations we had started about the volunteer programmes at our respective museums. However, I had not realised how beneficial my week in Salisbury would be, nor how much I would enjoy my time there.
Ahead of my arrival, Bridget planned a really exciting week of activities for me, with plenty of opportunities to get to know Salisbury Museum, its staff and its dedicated volunteers. My week began with a wonderful tour of the galleries by volunteer Paul Marsh. He seemed to know something about just about everything, and was full of interesting stories about what at first glance seemed the most innocuous looking objects. As coordinator of the volunteer-led tours of the British Museum and having delivered tours myself as a volunteer elsewhere, it was really interesting to hear about volunteer-led tours at Salisbury, and Bridget and I later discussed how these could be developed in the future.
I met with numerous staff over the course of the week, including Fiona Johnstone who works with the Portable Antiques Scheme, who I was pleased to discover had been a former volunteer at the British Museum. Each person I spoke to was full of praise about the volunteers who supported their work and it became clear that the volunteers were an essential part of the museum. I was lucky to have my visit coincide with a Volunteer Coffee Morning, during which Louise Tunnard, the Communications Officer, gave an in-depth talk to the volunteers about marketing Salisbury Museum. She was followed by two volunteers, Gail Davis and Kate Wickson, who spoke about their recent research on pilgrim badges. This prompted a discussion between the assembled volunteers and it was great fun to see everyone exchanging ideas. We have recently started hosting volunteer coffee mornings at the British Museum and participating in a similar event at Salisbury Museum gave me lots of room for thought.
Volunteer coffee morning at Salisbury Museum
The enthusiasm of staff was reflected by the many volunteers who I spent time with during my week in Salisbury. Volunteer Christine Mason spoke to me about the ‘Talking Objects’ project, which whilst on a smaller scale, is similar to the British Museum’s Hands-on Desks – but at Salisbury volunteers are able to select their own objects to show visitors with the assistance of Adrian Green, Director of Salisbury Museum. I found out about the vast amount of work volunteers have contributed to the ‘Finding Pitt-Rivers’ project; spent a cosy couple of hours with some of the Costume Project volunteers who were kind enough to bring out one of their favourite objects; and shadowed a school session led by Learning Officer Owain Hughes and volunteer Ian Dixon, an ex-teacher whose experience shone through
Bridget had also arranged visits to three other organisations supported by volunteers. I was fortunate enough to attend a volunteer-led Tower Tour at Salisbury Cathedral, for example, and looked down as Salisbury Museum from on high. On my last day in Salisbury, we took an excursion out to the Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne Minster and then visited Poole Museum, where we met their wonderful garden volunteers, out tending their plants despite the chilly weather. At each of these places it came through again and again how vital volunteers were to each organisation and how much they were valued. I was reminded constantly of how much support is given by volunteers to museums and galleries all over the UK, something which we celebrate annually at the British Museum through the Marsh Award for Volunteers in Museum Learning, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of those people who give their time and support for free.
Tower tour image of Salisbury Museum
My week at Salisbury Museum was enjoyable, useful and thought-provoking and I am enormously glad I had the chance to spend a week there through the Knowledge Exchange programme. Although there are differences between the volunteer programmes at the British Museum and Salisbury Museum in terms of size and specific roles, those are outweighed by similarities and the dedication shown by all volunteers involved in them. I wish the volunteers and staff at Salisbury Museum the best going forwards and want to say thank you to everyone who helped host me throughout the week.
One giant LEGO mosaic with 960 tiles and 61,440 bricks
Thirty six volunteers
One hundred and thirty models of ‘The Luggage’ constructed
Four hundred and sixty visitors
The Staff Team
Not quite the Twelve Days of Christmas! BUT we overcame rain inside the marquee, cling filming LEGO in the dark, avoided a storm, managed to keep warm (mostly) and delivered another amazing event to our visitors.
Sincere thanks to you all for everything you contributed towards a wonderful day.
See the finished article in the museum now.
You will be pleased to hear that it has just been announced that we secured £115,360 from the Museum Association’s Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund to undertake work with young people on our costume collections and displays. This application was put together by Katy England and will obviously be the focus for her work over the next couple of years (from Feb 2018) following up on the excellent HLF Funded City Story Project.
Katy will be working with, amongst others, our NADFAS lady volunteers, on this new project.
See here for more info about the announcement and the other awards made:
City Story: Historic Past, Creative Future
Exhibition at Five Rivers Health and Wellbeing Centre and Wessex Gallery Showcase
The City Story: Historic Past, Creative Future project has been a great success with young people taking part in afterschool clubs, Saturday workshops for young carers and sessions for schools and colleges at the museum.
The 11 – 18 year olds have been working with inspiring local artists to explore the extraordinary objects in the museum’s Salisbury History and Costume collections.
They have learnt new skills in a variety of techniques including ceramics, printing, glass and painting with light on the museum’s unique Coo Var Glow Wall.
The museum has also been working with fashion and textile students from Wiltshire College to create a range of textile items inspired by the collections.
In October, an exhibition opened at the Five Rivers Health and Wellbeing Centre in Salisbury to celebrate the work of those taking part in the afterschool clubs as well as the project with Wiltshire College. The display shows the amazing art work that has been created by the young people.
The work of the young carers who have taken part in the programme of Saturday workshops at the museum is also being celebrated in the Wessex Gallery Showcase at the museum. A vibrant selection of the ceramics, textile and 2d art that has been created by these talented young people will be on display in the museum until January 2018.
City Story: Historic Past, Creative Future has been generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots Grant.
Our own Katy England has been leading this project, with help from local artists and from a small group of Volunteers. Thanks and congratulations to all involved.
With the Terry Pratchett: HisWorld exhibition as their inspiration, one hundred children this morning, and surely as many this afternoon, have reveled in the opportunity to allow their imagination to run riot. They have been creating their own worlds, using a tempting array of resources, with wonderful results.
The adults present were clearly enjoying the creativity as much as the youngsters! Thank you Liza Morgan and thank you, as always, to the willing Volunteers, without whom these things could not happen.
Salisbury Museum (SM) has recently received a Bishop Wordsworth School (BWS) image archive. The Salisbury Museum volunteers have catalogued all the items and are now about to scan them. Then the next process will be trying to find out as much as possible about each image and including this information in the jpeg metadata.
There are several glass plates, which of course have nothing written on the back. This image here is from one of these glass plates. It was one of five glass plates in a box labelled ‘1950’. Thus it appears to be a BWS class in about 1950, almost 70 years ago. I suspect that as the boys would now be in their 80’s, I will be unable to identify any of them but you never know.
This classroom still exists in the school’s Chapel block. I hadn’t realised before, no windows to look out as it might distract from learning?
Also the pupils and master (mistress?) must have had good eyesight to see in dim winter light. The image only shows one small light bulb.
A friend and former BWS teacher said “I presume this is Room D (Charles Bacon’s room) but I remember it with sloping desks rather than flat desks – and more ceiling hung lights. In my time ties would be worn and jackets optional.” Charles Bacon, a maths master, retired long ago. Flat desks have an advantage over sloping desks in that they can be placed together to form a large flat surface, as illustrated in the image.
I like the mechanical method of opening the windows by operating the large lever, a glorious piece of Victorian engineering. I wonder how the paintings and notices were placed so high up. Was a ladder used to put them up? No compulsory health and safety considerations. Could they be read, being so high – of course, as already alluded to, eyesight was much better in 1950 than today.
“…another excellent Blog. Well done. You have done very well with your attached personnel who seem to have done a lot, learnt a great deal, and had a most enjoyable time. Perhaps the Museum could teach other outfits how to use their volunteers and their Sixth Form attached personnel.
I do like all the reports on activities, and especially the tale of the alchemist at St Thomas’s Church. I do hope we can see the next chapter!!”
Chris Elmer, previously Head of Museum Learning and Community Engagement at Hampshire County Council and now researching a PhD at Southampton University, adapted his teaching beautifully to a much younger audience than usual for one of our Summer Discovery Days recently. Rapt seven, eight, nine and ten-year olds (and one or two babes in arms!) were thrilled to be handling real bones and flints and Roman artefacts as Chris ‘unearthed’ them while “digging with no mud”.
The archaeologist’s ‘trench’ can be seen in the background here – green and brown and cream coloured blankets cleverly representing grass, topsoil and the lower levels of the trench itself.
Volunteers were on hand, as always, to assist: Rodney Targett, Amy Middleton and student Megan Corbett. Many thanks, as always.
The next generation of archaeologists is already on its way….
Summer is here (according to the calendar anyway!), school’s out and Discovery Tuesdays at the museum are packed. Last week we had printing with Charlotte Moreton.
This week they are making Noah’s Ark with Charlotte Stowell, which may actually be quite appropriate for the weather!
Next week, Tuesday 15 August Sarah Holtby will be working with the little ones to produce Layered Landscape Ceramic Tiles and Pots, and the week after, Archaeologist Chris Elmer will be taking them digging.
Many thanks, as always, to the Volunteers who help make it all happen!