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.
A guest post from Dylan Bailey
For a week or so in August, I worked as a volunteer at the as-yet-to-be-opened North Hertfordshire Museum in Hitchin. I wanted to do some work experience to put on my personal statement, as I am interested in studying History at university and thought working at a history museum would be an interesting experience to include.
I was given a job to do on my first day. In the museum, which contains a variety of valuable museum pieces collected from all over North Hertfordshire, there is a map (presumably printed in the 1930s) called the ‘Incident Map’, which shows us where Axis bombs were dropped in and around the Hitchin Rural District during World War Two.
The map (which was originally on display at Hitchin Museum) has a key with eight symbols on it. These symbols each represent a different bomb or object that landed in the Hitchin Rural District during the war. The eight ‘subjects’ that are featured on the map are: ‘High Explosive Bombs’, ‘Parachute Mines’, ‘Oil Bombs’, ‘Firepot Bombs’, ‘Phosphorous Bombs’, ‘Fly Bombs’, ‘Rockets’, and ‘Enemy Planes’. The final one, ‘Enemy Planes’, was marked by a Swastika (the symbol most typically associated with the Nazis during World War Two).
This map indicates that all these bombings took place throughout the war, from 1939 all the way to 1945. The task that I was given to do at the museum was to start mapping out these bombing positions on Google Earth, so then people could see where the bombs landed in relation to our present-day geography. I was given this job due to my personal fascination with World War Two and in general modern history. There are plans for the Google Earth map to eventually be processed, so then people can interact with it in the museum.
Knowing exactly where the bombs fell in North Hertfordshire in relation to how the county’s land is laid out now and being able to interact with it will hopefully help people to learn more about our local history then they could before now. I finished placing all the bomb markings on except for the ‘High Explosive Bombs’. I started on them but found that there were simply too many to finish by the end of my tenure at the museum. However, I got the vast majority of the bombs mapped out onto Google Earth.
The bombs so far mapped by Dylan shown in Google Maps
Yet I think I have made a positive start to the project in which the museum workers can continue to work on. I had some trouble with the scaling, and so I am not completely confident that I have placed all the markings from the map in the right spot on Google Earth. However, I feel that overall I have made a significant contribution to the North Hertfordshire Museum and helped them in their goal of preserving North Hertfordshire’s culture and heritage.
31 August 2016
A guest post by Daisy Bradford, who did four weeks’ work experience with the Museum Service in August 2014:
This summer holiday just past, I spent four weeks doing voluntary with the North Herts Archaeology Service because I have a passion for archaeology and I plan to study it at university when I complete my A-Levels.
In my four weeks with the local archaeologists and museum workers in North Hertfordshire, I learned a lot of things and gained a lot of experience that will aid me in my future ambitions and also as useful life skills. I spent a lot of time with artefacts, holding them, observing them, classifying, photographing, cleaning and it really enabled me to have a close insight into the archaic culture of our ancestors that you won’t get from visiting a museum.
I also got to go on a few site visits to current commercial digs throughout the county, which was fascinating for me, who’d never seen a real dig let alone got to go on one and see how they are organised and all the amazing things the archaeologists find and it showed me how incredibly rich the history is just outside my front door.
This experience has been a great one for me and I’ve earned many skills and a deeper understanding of the study of Archaeology, as well as increasing my passion for it.
I’d also like to say thanks to Keith and Ros, who made sure I was doing all my work right and made the experience even more enjoyable.