Guest post by Lucy Slater
As a university student with no prior museum knowledge, completing three weeks worth of work experience at North Hertfordshire Museum has been an eye opening and incredibly fun experience. Coming in to the museum for my first day as a complete novice was nerve wracking, but everyone at the museum was helpful, kind and willing to answer my constant stream of questions. My time at the museum has consisted of undertaking a multitude of tasks, such as digitising accession records, cleaning objects of interest (from local swimming trophies to ancient axe heads), and even locating a painting needed by the museum. Each of these tasks brought to light a new aspect of the challenges of museum work and provided me with new knowledge and skills. My goal for this work experience was to learn as much as I could, and the team at the museum made sure I reached that goal.
Local History truly comes to life at the North Herts Museum. My time here gave me a fascinating glance into the world of museum work, but also into the detailed and at times incredibly personal history of the district. From impassioned correspondence between the curator of the former Hitchin football museum and the clubs he requested objects from, to the extensive, colourful, and occasionally abrasive geology collection, North Hertfordshire Museum contains some of the most interesting objects I’ve ever had the opportunity to discover.
If ever you’re in the mood to be immersed in an engaging and dynamic museum experience, or wanting a challenging and fulfilling work experience placement, I cannot recommend North Hertfordshire Museum enough.
Guest Post by Dylan Bailey
For the past two weeks I have been volunteering at North Hertfordshire Museum, helping to find and catalogue various items which lie within the museum stores.
I began by adding to the work of a previous volunteer, who had sketched and made note of several dozen flints and artefacts. Here, I could see history come to life in front of me. From the head of a Roman statue to a Mesopotamian seal, in my own hands I held intimate pieces of the past, impossibly well preserved and unbelievably beautiful. I was instructed to go through the museum accession register, and find any more details that could be added to the notes of my predecessor.
Once I had finished that, I moved onto the flints. Here, I got an insight into the exact mechanicals of how a museum worked, examining the stones and trying to determine their geographical origin.
I was also involved in searching the old Letchworth museum for artefacts, including a World War One medal, as well as cleaning a variety of sculptures found there, and filling out the museum accession record. I was also given a go at posting on the museum’s twitter page!
My time working at North Hertfordshire Museum has been thoroughly enjoyable, I have learnt a considerable number of skills and techniques that I will be able to apply to other jobs in the future.
My week at the museum has been an amazing experience filled with learning new skills, information and meeting new, fantastic people who have passed their knowledge onto me. I have thoroughly enjoyed this week and I feel as though I have had a real taster of what working in an historical environment would be like and has made me certain that it’s what I want to do in the future. On Monday I was given the opportunity to help Lucy, a masters student from York who was here this week as well, to identify the sexes of human remains; I really enjoyed doing this as Lucy taught me what to look for in the bones and so was able to determine the sexes independently. On Tuesday I was cataloguing stone artefacts many of which are fantastically preserved and were wonderful to look at. On Wednesday and Thursday I was cataloguing flint stones which involved drawing them, labelling my diagram and photographing the flints. On Friday I was lucky enough to look through the social history section of the stores for medical equipment for a display the museum is showing next week which will celebrate the NHS’ 70th birthday. My time at the museum has been wonderful and I am so thankful to the museum for my experience and how its sparked an excitement in me for my career and the future.