Work experience blog

Finding work experience

I sent many emails to several museums and historical sites before I finally got a “yes” from the museum of London to go there for work experience. I found that since I am not yet sixteen many places were unable to accommodate me because of age restrictions. Emailing worked really well as I got responses quickly within a few days where as letters would have taken a lot longer. It helped to find specific people working in the museums as they responded quicker than emailing an organisation generally. I emailed the secondary schools program manager at the museum of London and was so pleased when I got the response. My placement will involve working with groups of children coming into the museum and I will also have the opportunity to speak to curators and other staff at the museum. I am hoping the placement will give me many vital skills and will help me in my applications to university in a few years’ time.

Day 1

My first day on work experience was very daunting, as I stepped off the train onto the platform many thoughts were buzzing through my head, worries about whether it would go well. After arriving at the museum someone was sent down to meet me, I received the warm welcome I had hoped for, after a whistle stop tour of the learning department I was pushed straight into the deep end. My first task was to watch and help with a session for college students with special educational needs. I had a bit of a shaky start as I struggled to encourage some of the students but I settled into the role and eventually had a great time. When I returned after lunch I helped with a year one primary schools session about the fire of London as I had studied this period at school I knew enough to help effectively. My first day was extremely fun and I have learnt so much already, I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Day 2

My second day was even more insightful, it gave me a lot of information about what a normal day working at the museum is like. I started the day by having a conversation with my supervisor about how the museum is supported financially. Then I attended a meeting which was reviewing an event that had taken place a few weeks before. This helped me to understand how events are run there and how workshops for schools are arranged. It also gave me the opportunity to see how the museum is trying to make links with other companies to develop the services they can provide for schools. In the afternoon I was given the chance to plan a presentation about how I think the museum could get more teenagers to visit. I am planning to speak about increasing the museum’s social media presence and potential exhibits that may attract young adults. I will be giving this presentation tomorrow, hopefully it will go well.

Day 3

I started the day by attending the department meeting where I gave my presentation. Although I was extremely nervous it went very well, everyone was very supportive which helped as well. I presented my ideas about what would interest young people and attract them to the museum. I suggested that an exhibit about London’s growing film industry which could be linked to massive blockbusters that would interest young people. While I was at the museum there was a Sherlock exhibit which I felt young people would really enjoy after the success of the Sherlock movies and the T.V series. This led me to think about other things which are popular with young people such as Marvel movies, however this didn’t have many links to a London museum! But there are many films which are filmed in London and the BAFTAs take place there every year. After the meeting I learnt how to use the survey monkey system to input surveys which teachers from visiting schools would complete after a session at the museum. To finish the day I helped with a toddler’s session. This was a lot of fun as we sang while walking around the museum looking for things. The children enjoyed the session it was lovely to work with them. Unfortunately I missed my train though!

Day 4

I began the day working in the conservation department which was amazing! I got to speak to everyone working in different areas of conservation, this included textiles, arts, paper and wood. I found this fascinating, one of the things the team were working on was a 16th century bridle. I also had the chance to see a work house sign, 17th century gloves and 18th century shoes. These artefacts were beautiful I feel so privileged to have seen them. Then I was given a task to re-package some Medieval badges, this involved replacing the tissue paper in the badge’s containers. There were some amazing badges with intricate, detailed patterns. After lunch I watched a primary school session about Charles Dickens, this involved an actor dressed as Charles Dickens telling the children basic versions of his stories. This engaged the children, every child seemed to really enjoy it. I was also able to go the special Sherlock Holmes exhibit at the museum, this was a brilliant exhibit, which has many maps and paintings of Victorian London where all the Sherlock stories were set.

Day 5

My last day of work experience began with helping prepare resources for the following week which was half term. After helping prepare for the children’s events I had the chance to speak to one of the curators. I was able to go into the store room containing all the collections not on display. This was fascinating, I was able to see everything from Roman kitchen utensils, medieval shoes, Victorian toys and medieval badges showing support for people during the wars of the roses and some pilgrim badges as well. It was mind blowing to see over a thousand years’ worth of history in two reasonably sized rooms. The artefacts were organised into rows of cabinets, as you walked down each row you progressed through the ages seeing items of warfare and everyday life. Looking at each object opened a window to the people living before us, it made you feel part of something much bigger than yourself. After a talk with the curator I was able to speak to people who worked as part of the design team, this gave me an insight as to how curators at the museum put together exhibits. The designer I spoke to explained how they listen to how curators want exhibits to look and then use various techniques to create the final exhibit.

Overall, I had the most amazing week, I feel privileged to have been able to spend the week at the museum.