Each week we take a look at what’s been going on with Norfolk’s Teaching Museum Trainees. Today we see Lawrence, Collections Management Trainee at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.
The early part of 2016 has brought into sharp focus the amount of work required to ensure Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse opens on schedule this year, with its Heritage Lottery Funded redisplay ‘Voices from the Workhouse’. The sheer variety of what I have been up to has made this a very exciting, busy and valuable period of my traineeship in Norfolk Museums Service.
One element of the re-display is to have digital resources in various rooms. One of these resources will show all 22 Union workhouses in Norfolk. It is proving to be a very enjoyable process researching each workhouse and finding historic and contemporary photographs of every building from a variety of physical and online archives. Inevitably not all workhouses have images which means a trip around the county will be completed to capture images of these often re-purposed or derelict buildings- a pretty great way to spend time in Norfolk! In addition, I was able to create the design for this aspect of the project and I am keenly looking forward to its completion and installation in the finished displays.
A lot of my time the last year has been spent digitising our own archived images for display in the museum. Whilst most of what we require has been found across the Norfolk Museums Service, more recently a few images have required some looking further afield. Organising and ordering images from the likes of the British Library and the National Portrait Gallery has been a valuable experience. I’ve gained an insight into how national institutions work and how their digital archives are managed but also how image licensing and copyright considerations are dealt with. I certainly didn’t expect this sort of work back when I started in April 2015 but have relished it all the same.
Another unexpected aspect of my time here at Gressenhall was being given the lead on writing the text and producing the graphic style for our Engineering Gallery which contains many steam and petrol powered engines. It’s fair to say this wasn’t a topic I had much knowledge about previously! I thoroughly enjoyed this task. Experiencing the process of numerous edits, taking on board comments and suggestions from colleagues, will be of huge value in future roles.
I have not only been ‘in office’ this past year. In early February I had the privilege of researching and delivering a talk about the history of Gressenhall and the ‘Voices’ project at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. A little pre-talk apprehension aside, this was a very rewarding outreach experience and I certainly feel that I have gained a useful skill for the future.
The almost weekly training days have continued and have allowed my fellow trainees and me to visit and explore numerous wonderful museums, engage with great objects and learn a great deal of invaluable skills. Recent highlights for me include finding out more about the Archaeology and Display department and learning there is much more to plastics than I thought. With only a few training sessions ahead of me I believe I will miss these development opportunities, though it is fair to say I’ve definitely made the most of them!
As ever Gressenhall has been a lovely place to work over the last few months. It has been a source of personal satisfaction that I have been able to work in a historic building in the countryside of a county I have come to call home over the years. For an idea of the joy it has been to work here I thought I would end this post with an image I took back in January.