The Teaching Museum

Norfolk Museums Service Traineeship


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Preparing a Cockle Rake for the Freezer… #OnlyInMuseums

Each month we take a look at what’s been going on with Norfolk’s Teaching Museum Trainees. Today we see Imy Clarke, Curatorial trainee at Ancient House and Lynn Museum.

Six months into the traineeship and it’s hard to believe how much I have learnt! Time has flown by and we’ve hit the halfway point (eek)! With the months whizzing on I’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on a few of the best and most challenging things I’ve done over the first half of my year as Curatorial Teaching Museum Trainee.

Dressing up + being in costume likes to work it's way into trainee life! Myself and fellow trainees enjoying the hat selection at Ancient House.

Myself and fellow trainees enjoying the hat selection at Ancient House!

Having had no prior experience in the museum industry, the first few months were a steep learning curve! I was flung straight into helping with all sorts of exciting activities and projects whilst getting to know my new colleagues and places of work.

One of the first major projects I was lucky enough to be involved with was East Meets West, a three-day international conference exploring the relationship between obsidian and flint. ‘What is obsidian?’ I hear you ask… or maybe that was just me back in May! – Why it’s a ruddy-exciting black volcanic rock used to make tools during the Neolithic period, that’s what! East Meets West included an academic conference, a family fun day and a schools day, so as you can imagine the project took lots of coordinating! It also presented me with numerous challenges. One particularly memorable example being an interview with Radio Suffolk, which is sadly no longer available online for me to share with you (phew!).

Obsidian knapping workshop at East Meets West Family Fun Day.

Obsidian knapping workshop at East Meets West Family Fun Day.

One of my favourite roles at both Lynn Museum and Ancient House is working with our volunteer teams. I quickly learnt when starting the traineeship, that many museums simply could not continue if it wasn’t for the hard work of their dedicated volunteers. At Lynn Museum I have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic people, sorting through boxes of fascinating museum objects! It has been amazing to work behind the scenes, handling and caring for such interesting objects. During my first session at the store I ended up preparing a cockle rake for the freezer as it was showing signs of pest infestation… something I can’t say I had ever seen myself doing.

…And so began the weird and wonderful list of activities where I found myself saying ‘only in museums!’ (Regretfully I have no photo evidence of said cockle rake… I will leave your minds to ponder…)

Any excuse to don a tyvek suit! Conservation cleaning at Gressenhall collections store.

Over the last few months I have thoroughly enjoyed co-curating Little Lives: Snapshots of Childhood 1800 to the Present Day with the wonderful Lynn Museum team! Working on this exhibition has given me invaluable experience in selecting and preparing objects, writing text panels, curating displays and more! Using childhood objects from the museum collections alongside photographs and paintings, Little Lives explores the changing experiences of childhood across the last two centuries. Until working on Little Lives I had no idea of the processes and forward planning involved in creating a museum exhibition.

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Installing mourning brooches for Little Lives exhibition.

My day-to-day role on the traineeship has been and continues to be incredibly varied. One moment I’ll be creating museum trails or co-curating an online exhibition (watch this space) and the next I’ll be dressed up in 1920s costume or as a Tudor lady at an outreach event! I have been given so many opportunities during my first six months and I can’t thank the supportive teams I work with enough!

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Strike a pose! Dayna and Myself dressed in 1920s costume for event at Lynn Museum.

I am looking forward to seeing what my remaining few months will hold and I’m sure that when it comes to writing my next blog entry I will have plenty more of those #OnlyInMuseum moments to share!

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A tour around the costume and textiles stores. Me in replica crinoline.