My work experience in the ITP 2014

On Monday 18th August I arrived at the British Museum for my first day of work experience in the department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan. I was very excited and raring to go! I began by creating packs of materials for the Museum assistant’s workshops in the afternoon, during which I was asked by Claire to help her take the Gayer-Anderson Cat replica to the Sackler rooms for the photography talk. It was a very funny experience walking through the galleries holding a big orange bag containing the Gayer-Anderson cat (replica)! When I later returned to collect the cat I was able to listen to Emily’s talk about the job of the Museum assistants. I found the talk very interesting; I had no idea how much they did!

Later in the afternoon I joined in with the ITP participants and went around the Museum Assistant workshops. It was the first time that I met the participants and I was quite nervous! Although soon I was chatting and laughing with everyone as if I had been there for weeks and not a few hours! The workshops were really interesting and great fun, I learnt how to make labels and mounts, pack items safely, document scratches on items before they go on loan and monitor and identify pests!

My first day of work experience was fantastic and I went home wanting the next day to come quickly!

I arrived on Tuesday and met everyone at the information desk; I was very excited for Tuesday as we were going around the new WCEC building to look at the new conservation and science labs. As soon as everyone had arrived we walked to the new building which was very flash with giant doors so that huge objects could be moved easily to the conservation labs. We started with a talk from David Saunders (who is the Head of Conservation and Scientific Research) and then split into groups for our tours.

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The first stop on our tour was the stone and mosaic conservation studio where we received an interesting introduction of the work they did in the studio and a demonstration of the cleaning of a granite statue of Senwosret III. The statue appeared to be black, but when cleaned of all the particles and pollution from the galleries, was actually a greenish colour. We were also given a talk by Michael (an intern from UCL) who showed us his skilled conservation of Egyptian wall art which had been left crumbling by rusting metal rods that held the stone together.

Next on our tour was the Western art and paper conservation studio where we were given a brief overview about what they did in the studio. We then moved around the room to talk to different members of the studio who showed us what they did and the different instruments they used to conserve the art and the paper.

Our third stop on our tour was the Organics conservation studio where we were given a whistle-stop tour of the different rooms on the floor and told about the room’s specific uses.

Finally we went to the Ceramics and Metals conservation studio where we were talked to by the different members of the studio who showed us the objects they were working on and what they were doing to the objects. We also received another whistle-stop tour of the rooms and their uses in this studio.

After our tours of the conservation studios we all went for lunch and built up our energy again for the next tours.

Next we went back to the WCEC building and had tours around the science labs and research facilities where we saw all the amazing technology that the scientists could use to identify elements in objects and particles in pottery.

I had an amazing day on Tuesday and learnt a lot about conservation and scientific research. I also got to know the ITP participants better and talked to them about where they came from and what they did.

On Wednesday the ITP participants all went to Cambridge so I spent my day working in the office with Claire, Emma, Jana, Sylwia and Tania. I created maps for the Horniman trip showing how to get from the Horniman Museum back to Euston and I am now positive that I could make the trip in my sleep! I also got to meet Shezza’s little baby girl; she was very, very cute and made the whole office go ‘awww’! I did some office work for the rest of the day which gave me a bit of a rest from the full packed days of Monday and Tuesday. I went home very excited and anxious as on Thursday I was going to the Horniman Museum with everyone but I was also going to get my GCSE results!

Thursday morning came and I awoke very excited! I walked to Schafer house to meet everyone and we all got on the coach to go to the Horniman Museum. It was a quick journey and we were at the Horniman Museum in no time! We were met at the gate and taken to the pavilion where we had tea, saw a three-week old baby Alpaca and received a talk from Janet Vitmayer. Soon we were all off on our tours of the museum.

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We first were given a tour around the Centenary gallery by Fiona Kerlogue which was very interesting as it was displayed as it would have been displayed in Victorian times; this meant the room was very dark and lots of objects were placed into the cases, fitting as many in as possible! Next we went into the Extremes exhibition which was very fun as it was interactive and had a great atmosphere! Finally we were given a tour around the music collection by Mimi Waitzman which was very interesting and informative. She even gave us a performance on one of the instruments.

We later all split off into guided tours of other parts of the museum. I went to the Aquarium which was extremely fun and the displays were very cool! We got to see a lobster, butterflies, jellyfish and even tree frogs! Jamie Craggs was our guide and he took us behind the scenes to where they were breeding tree frogs, jelly fish and even coral. The Horniman Museum was the first institute in the world to attempt to breed coral! Rhea and I even got to hold the tree frogs of which the Horniman has three species!

After our tours it was time for lunch where I got to know the ITP participants even better and got to talk to the Horniman staff.

After lunch it was our free time to go around the museum. I chose to go and have a look at the Natural History part of the Museum as it was the only part of the museum I hadn’t seen yet! It was very interesting and reminded me of a museum near home.

Soon it was time to go home, but I had had a lovely day which I will remember for ever! I it was a very anxious journey home as I was going to see my GCSE results in the evening but all was well as I was very happy with my results and it resulted in the perfect end to a perfect day!

I arrived at the museum on Friday morning feeling both happy and sad. I was happy as I love doing work experience here and have had a fantastic week, but I was also sad as it was my last day! I have had such a lovely week and I would like to thank Claire, Emma, Jana, Sylwia and the ITP participants for putting up with me all week!

THANKYOU!

Elysia Gwilliam

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