The Teaching Museum

Norfolk Museums Service Traineeship

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Migration: my story

Each week we take a look at what’s been going on with Norfolk’s Teaching Museum Trainees.

Today we see what Phoebe Wingate, trainee with the learning team at the Time and Tide museum, has been up to.

Before writing my own, I spent some time reading the blogs by other museum trainees. Despite the different traineeships, several common themes emerged – not least of all the huge variety within each role and the enthusiasm with which everyone has embarked on the programme. Another theme that stood out was the reference to the speed at which things happen. So it may come as no surprise that I start with the same opening gambit – what a whirlwind it has been since I started seven months ago. It is hard work and full-on yet I still feel incredibly lucky; I get to be involved in amazing projects and gain experience with a fantastic team.

Robert Norman's watch National Maritime Museum Greenwich London

Pocketwatch belonging to second class passenger on the Titanic,  Robert Douglas Norman. On loan from the National Maritime museum.

One such experience has been working on Endeavour; part of the Collection Stories project led by the National Maritime Museum (NMM). The Time & Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth where I am based is a project partner and has been loaned a pocket watch that belonged to Robert Douglas Norman, a second class passenger on the Titanic who died when the ship sank. The Endeavour project focuses on using this poignant object to explore ways of recording and sharing migration stories; when I started my role in April 2017 my predecessor, Holly Morrison, had planned and delivered a number of activities and events, engaging different audiences on this theme.

Next up in the calendar was Migration – Collection stories, hosted by Great Yarmouth library. This event featured a handling session, crafts, as well as a human library where volunteers engaged visitors in a twitter-like conversation on the theme of migration. Working alongside Holly, I was able to pick up lots of tips and gain good experience in event organising within the museum sector.


A crafty approach to capturing migration stories.

Building on this was Global Great Yarmouth (it took almost as much time to come up with the name as to plan, organise and deliver) – an event to celebrate the many cultures represented in Great Yarmouth. It was about this time that Holly-shaped hole developed in the office when she was offered a job at the Fitz William in Cambridge. In a slight daze I set to work researching objects linked to migration from our collection, coordinating staff and volunteers as well as developing craft activities.

One of the most rewarding elements was working with a group of students from East Coast College (English for Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL). The students selected several objects from our collection that they would highlight by running tours.  Understandably anxious about their performance, working with these students was a great reminder that I wasn’t the only person who needed to overcome nerves.

dance cropped

We all join in: Vandana teams up with the Afro Lusa dance group – and others – to show a traditional Indian dance.

Radio interviews done, sessions planned and staff booked, there was nothing for it but to stand and deliver – event day was upon me.  And so with the back drop of a (mostly) blue sky, the Time & Tide museum courtyard looked a riot of colours swirling to music from India, Greece and Portugal; stories were told about the first people to migrate; the ESOL students ran fantastic tours and I breathed a tiny sigh of relief…success.