It’s been an action packed term so we thought we’d update you on some of the things that are happening. We’ve had Visit Days for new applicants, we’ve been visiting and researching our local museums and we’ve been watching as the changes to the Museum of English Rural Life start to take shape.
This term we have the modules ‘Museum History, Policy and Ethics’ and ‘Curatorship and Collections Management’ running. On Thursday one of our former students and members of staff Jen Allison is coming back to talk to our ‘Curatorship’ students about her role as Curator at REME Museum. They have a big move coming up soon so she’ll have a lot to tell our students about.
Our ‘Museum History, Policy and Ethics’ students were welcomed at Reading Museum last week. They got to see the early records of the museum and to explore how the collection was formed. Staff also talked about what it means to work in a local authority museum in the 21st century. We heard about the new Reading Abbey Quarter HLF bid, the long running loans box scheme, and the recent project ‘Hidden Voices’ which explores Reading’s LGBT history.
Blog wise we’ve been a little quiet this year. However, we have plans for much more regular updates which will explore Reading based projects, talk to people in the sector about their careers, and provide hints and tips for people interested in museums. Last but not least there is a new vlog series in town called ‘How Many Curators?’ It is an informal and light hearted look behind the scenes of our museum, library and archive service. We hope you enjoy it.
The open days were fun. I had two great students Georgia and Helen helping me out in the Ure Museum. We had a handling collection out and an iPad with apps designed by students and local schools
Nearly everybody I invited to handle the objects said ‘I am clumsy I can’t be trusted with objects’. However, those who were brave enough to put on the white gloves were blown away by the age of the objects they were interacting with (2500 years for some of them). We even had a visit from our Twitter-bear Stu who was going around campus being photographed in different locations. Trying to get a tiny cuddly toy bear look like it is handling an object while protecting the object is really tough.
We got a mix of people coming to talk. Some were just generally interested in the study of the past and looking at different programme options. They were amazed by the idea that you could have a museum at the end of your departmental corridor. Others were hunting out courses which offered museum studies teaching and experience. It made me realise how lucky we were to have the Ure Museum. Many university departmental collections have lost their geographical and intellectual connection to their once home discipline. Remembering this fact made me grateful for the foresight of the curators who fought to build this resource and keep it a part of teaching and research in the University.
I’ve been away for 2 weeks visiting the Yorkshire Dales, Scotland and Wales. This is almost unprecedented but I didn’t visit a single museum. However, I did visit lots of heritage sites such as the beautiful Bolton Abbey with its ‘picturesque if you’re looking at them/ terrifying if your actually on them’ stepping stones. I also visited White Scar Cave, Ingleton Waterfalls and took a boat out on Lake Windermere.
The natural beauty theme continued in Scotland with Loch Lomond and then again in Wales with Puzzlewood. All it takes is a bit of sunshine to remind you how beautiful the British countryside is and how hard it must be for open air attractions when the weather is not on their side. With that in mind I drove back to Reading along a motorway which looked like a river.
This week has been all systems go getting ready for our University of Reading Open Days. I am going to be situated in the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology with a handling collection to give people a real taster of what we offer here. I was in the library and ran into somebody from AACT/ iMuse demonstrating some new Ure Museum apps which were developed in collaboration with University of Reading students and local schools. I got a bit addicted to ‘Splat Medusa’ and I’m borrowing the iPad for a demo at the Open Day. I also updated the cases in the Archaeology Department for the Open Days which was made easier by getting the Lyminge Excavation Project gang to take over a case.
Archaeology Department case Lyminge excavation objects
In other news I saw Pompeii Live at the local cinema. I enjoyed it but it set me thinking about the challenges of making an exhibition into ‘a live cinema experience’ and I’m going to post once I’ve done a bit more research. Oh and amongst all of this I was reminded that I had website training and had agreed to be interviewed for our museum blog Our Country Lives. I’d love to go and put my feet up before the Open Days kick off tomorrow but I found out about an intriguing theatre performance around the theme of objects, memories and child refugees ‘Surviving Objects’ so I ‘m off to that tonight. I will try to post something on that and the Open Days next week.