For my year 10 work experience I got my placement at the North Hertfordshire Museum, located in Hitchin. During my week here I was fortunate to experience many different parts the museum that allows it to be able to fully function and educate people of all ages on the fascinating history of North Herts.
I was able to discover what it is like to sort through and log multiple artefacts and documents that have the potential to end up on display, during the week I worked on objects donated by the Offley Morris Men. I got the opportunity to learn about the Offley Morris Men, which I would never even known existed until I was gifted with the opportunity to look through and understand the history of the group.
Furthermore, whilst I was understanding the works of the museum, I got to spend some time at the front desk. I got to see how those who work at the desk interact with people, helping to improve, my skills interacting with others. I was lucky enough to have my work experience week land in the week where the museum hosted a Ukraine refugee coffee morning. I saw how the people in the museum care and work hard to help those who need it.
Guest post by Greer Parker
My name is Greer Parker and I have recently completed a Fashion Curation master’s degree at London College of Fashion. My placement at North Hertfordshire Museum was initially due to take place a year ago but had to be postponed due to Covid restrictions. The placement was funded by the Costume Society, allowing me to gain valuable hands-on experience of working with a museum collection, in this case shoes! My background is in historic dress research and production, so I have been able to bring my knowledge of historic dress to the project, whilst also getting the opportunity to work hands on with an historic shoe collection.
The North Hertfordshire Museum shoe collection is made up of men’s, women’s and children’s shoes from the 18th century to the present day. The aim of the project was to update and upload the historic shoe collection to the online collection system, meaning objects that are rarely seen in person are now easily accessible to a much wider audience. To do this, I have spent the last six weeks condition checking objects, measuring, photographing and updating digital files. I completed the project by curating a temporary display cabinet inside North Hertfordshire Museum, to show my findings. Here visitors can see a selection of the more unusual and aesthetically pleasing items form the collection. These range from the diamante studded shoes of the 1920s, shoes made in miniature for infants, to 18th century dance slippers with ‘gauche’ (left) and ‘droite’ (right) written inside, to ensure they were worn on the correct feet. The oldest shoes in the display are small red infants shoes from the 1790s, it is always intriguing to see something made so long ago, not to mention something made so precisely in a miniature size.
I have really enjoyed my time with the museum, gaining incredible experience of working with curators and a digital archiving system, along with the modern practice of blended working, both on site and from home.
In the future I would love to continue working with historic dress collections, clothing is such an emotive link with the past. Knowing an object had a life before entering the museum, that it was worn and used centuries ago, this provides a tangible link with the past and a visual representation of our social history.
You can start your search of the museum’s online database on the link below.
Guest Post by Mia Hoskins
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at North Herts Museum. In addition to gaining experience working as front of house, I got to see everything behind the scenes. I gained access to some amazing spaces such as the Archive, the Art Store and the Costume Store. The collections were extensive and fascinating. I received an in depth tour of the galleries and had several interesting discussions with the curators about how each display was carefully curated. I learned a lot about Digitisation and Data Entry, as well as being given the task of sorting through a collection of minutes describing youth groups/youth culture in the 60s and 70s. I also had the pleasure of organising and numbering a collection of stones painted by a local school during lockdown. A lot of the stones consisted of topical and inspirational messages advocating for BLM, LGBTQ+ rights, gender equality and celebrating the NHS. It was lovely to see children using their creativity to make a positive change during the pandemic. I was also able to work with a group of children in a hand print workshop which tied into the wonderful ‘Tiger Who Came To Tea’ exhibition. Working with the public has been very enjoyable. I would like to thank the whole team at North Herts Museum for being so welcoming and helpful and for giving me some exceptional careers advice. It’s thoroughly prepared me for my MA in Museum and Gallery Studies.
Good luck on the MA from all at North Herts!