You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

helenName: Helen

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

The costume exhibition is called ‘You Wear it Well’. It tells the story of the museum’s costume collection and how we care for it.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

The 1914 wedding dress, it has swing to its structure and style.

 

 

What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

I have been working on condition checking and preparing for the exhibition. I have also been steaming the costume ready for photography and display. The next steps will including searching for ephemera related to the exhibition.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have an interest in history and museums in general. Also, a local resident in Waltham Abbey.

You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

MichaelaName: Michaela

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

‘Wear it well’ – costume exhibition, deals with various aspects of the history of clothes from early 20th century up until the present day. This exhibition also explains how to look after the costume collection and what damages could occur.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

One of them would be an evening dress with floral decorations, a light blue one from the 1950s. It has a lovely ballroom feel, it’s in great condition, and as I love that time period, it is one of my favourites of this exhibition.

What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

I have been measuring and condition checking the costumes we chose for the exhibition, also I have started steaming them and will continue to do this.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have always been interested in history (any field) and have visited various museums since I was a child. As I don’t live far away and have a keen interest in behind the museum scenes, Epping Forest District Museum was an easy choice. I have learned a lot and have met lovely people.

You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

JoanName: Joan

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

‘You wear it well’ exhibition is the new display for 2020. It involves fashion and accessories portraying the museums costume collection.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

A long black velvet evening coat, its timeless! It is elegant in good condition and the coat can be worn and suited over any dress.

 

 

What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

At the moment we are working on conditioning reports for the exhibition, such as accessories. Next, we have plans for laying out the Perspex exhibition cubes.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have a love of history, its interesting to learn low artefacts are cared for through conversation. Meeting new friends, in the last two years I have enjoyed working on the costume.

Being an apprentice at Epping Forest District Museum

Melis 1`Hi there, my name is Melis and I am a business admin and customer service apprentice at Epping Forest District Council. My first 6-month placement was here at Epping Forest District Museum.

My journey started off with leaving Harlow college with a distinction in music, and not knowing my next step to success. I had no interest in going to university or carry on being in education. My initial plan was to carry on doing music, but my route changed after having the suggestion of joining the council as an apprentice by my own mother.

I applied not knowing anything about the council at all, and within a few weeks, I had received an email to inform me that I will be interviewed but with a pre-training week taking place beforehand.

During my pre-training week, I met other apprentices to be, who were part of my age group, I wasn’t expecting this at all. I had learnt more about the departments in the council and a few skills on how to undergo an interview. All of this really helped me with succeeding in securing my apprenticeship placement at the council.

My interview had taken place right after that week and I believe that was the best interview I had ever experienced. This was because I felt more comfortable knowing that I had practiced this time. Whereas with my part time jobs in the past, I hadn’t prepared for an interview before and my interviews were based on how well I worked in a team activity rather than having a discussion in a one-to one meeting.

Melis 3My interviewer had asked which placement I’d be interested to work in first, and straight away I wanted to work at the museum as I had an interest in history and really liked working with children.

On induction day, we were presented to our managers and I was so delighted to meet my manager knowing that I had got the placement I wanted, I was very grateful. The next day, I had toured round the museum and Hemnall street and all my colleagues had introduced themselves to me and made me feel welcome.

 

I have been doing a variety of things at my first placement. I focused on a schedule that I’d be doing from Monday to Friday. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I’d be working with a colleague on marketing tasks, which would include marketing theory and updating contact lists for upcoming events. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I would be helping the volunteers with the museum collection which was a great experience because, I had the opportunity to hold old items even from the Victorian period. I’d add new collections onto a spreadsheet, move boxes around to see what needs to be put on display and sometimes clean these items in a specific way as these were really old and delicate things to take care of.

On Friday mornings I’d sit on reception, deal with customers face to face as well as over the phone. I learnt how to use the till and learnt more about the shop stock which was interesting.

Aside from these specific projects I’d also deal with customers over the phone whilst being in the office and help with a number of activities and events that took place. For example: Toddler Tuesdays which is once a month and Museum Movers which is a movement class for those over 55. It was great to participate in these activities because not only was it fun but, I’d meet new customers all the time and they were very friendly.

I do not know where my next placement will be, but I am excited as there are so many opportunities coming my way. My apprenticeship lasts for 2 years meaning I get to work in four placements in total. Even if I am not keen on one placement, I will remain optimistic because firstly, it will give me the benefit of learning new skills, and secondly, it will help me decide which areas I would like to work in when I apply for a job at the council in two years’ time.

I have had a lovely experience here and I will really miss the Museum and staff and the volunteers, and surely will visit again soon!

 

 

You Wear It Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

Carolyn 1Name: Carolyn

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

The exhibition showcases the best (and worst) of our costume collection. An example would be ‘cradle to grave’ which shows christening gowns and wedding outfits. Our ‘gladrags’ section displays the best of our party and evening wear.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

The black Victorian mourning cape because it is beautifully made and is still in excellent condition. There is delicate decorative beading and was made by a company ‘by appointment to the Queen.’ The purple long evening dress associated with the long black velvet coat makes this an elegant outfit for a night out.

What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

We have been researching the garments selected for the display although we have no information of the origins of some. We have checked the condition of the garments prior to display. Next will be padding the mannequins so costumes can fit.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum because, it is local to me and I have always been interested in history, especially the Neolithic period, but I have been fascinated by learning about other areas such as the costume and art collections.

 

 

 

Award-winning volunteer team

Andrew and Sarah SHARE awards 2Epping Forest District Museum and Lowewood Museum Collections Volunteers team have won the Collections Champion Award from SHARE Museums East.

Andrew and Sarah Goodliffe, two of our volunteers, attended the celebration evening at Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket on Wednesday 6 June to collect the award on behalf of the whole volunteering team. Our team was one of 11 from the East of England to be shortlisted for this award.

Our Volunteers

With only one full-time specialist Collections Officer the museum relies on the help and care the team of eight volunteers bring to the collection to fulfil its potential. In making their decision the judges considered the team’s passion, commitment, dedication and initiative.

Our core team of collections volunteers consist of 12 members. We have three volunteers who work on the garden and two front of house volunteers.  At the moment there are a further 12 volunteers working on specialist projects and exhibitions; the largest cohort has recently been researching Hertfordshire man Stephen Warner for the current exhibition Stephen Warner: One Man’s Journey through War at Lowewood Museum.

Volunteers’ Week

This week, 1 – 7 June, is Volunteers’ Week, a chance to thank all volunteers for their contribution to our service. This award, which the team were nominated for by Assistant Museums, Heritage and Culture Manager, Will O’Neill, is the perfect way to say thank you.

SHARE Museums East

SHARE Museums East, based in Norfolk, support museums in the East of England. They provide staff and volunteer training, project funding and help with collections management.

For more information visit http://sharemuseumseast.org.uk/

#VolunteersWeek – Backlogs and Ephemera

In our last volunteer blog update, we explained how our volunteers had been assisting staff in repacking and relocating objects at our off site collections store. Since January, we have recruited five new volunteers, from all different walks of life – some are students, some are recently retired and some are wishing for a change of career – but they all have an incredible amount of enthusiasm and diligence in common. In this blog we’ll give you a catch up of what our volunteers have been doing with us, and why they get involved in the first place!

In mid January all new and existing volunteers took part in documentation training workshop with Katie, the Volunteer Coordinator and Jill, the Collections Officer. Through this they learnt the essentials of museum documentation, and the journey our museum objects go through in their time with us.

With their new found documentation training skills, our volunteers have been assisting Katie, the volunteer coordinator, in going through our ‘recent acquisitions backlog’. This is essentially the same as a build up of paperwork, or bits you haven’t had a chance to look at, in your home, or non museum office. Our backlog ranged from a 20 strong collection of spectacles to romantic love letters.

We all swiftly discovered our favourite things to register into our collection; everyone found their own particular interest – even if it was nothing that they’d previously thought of before. Everyone learnt to spell ephemera correctly, and we all got pretty clued up on its definition – ‘Ephemera is any written or printed matter that is meant to be temporary, or throwaway. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some examples of types of ephemera are advertisements, letters, postcards, posters or tickets. It’s a funny thing to collect these, but they provide a wonderful example of normal life throughout the decades.

Favourite Objects

As well as our favourites, objects hauled out of the boxes proved to be really useful and downright strange.

Since January, our volunteers have undertaken an impressive 323 Hours with us and fully registered a whopping 426 objects for the museum.

We are incredibly proud of our volunteer team, and we’re very thankful that they devote their free time with us. We recently nominated our collections volunteer team for 2015 SHARE Volunteer Awards in the Behind the Scenes Award category. The volunteer collections team has been nominated for their contributions and fantastic work during 2014.

Our volunteers have joined us for all sorts of reasons, below is a collection of all the words used when our volunteers were asked ‘why are you interested in volunteering with Epping Forest District Museum?’

Volunteer Word Cloud

Our collections volunteers are getting a bit of a break whilst we prepare our museum collections for relocation back to the new Epping Forest District Museum and their new home in our onsite collections store. But we will be starting new projects in the autumn and finding more new learning experiences!

We will be looking for new volunteers to join us, in both the collections team and other aspects of the museum so keep an eye out for adverts in the next six months.

Lowewood Museum’s Youth Panel

youth panel poster

In 2015 Lowewood Museum will be launching a brand new and exciting project. We are going to be setting up a Youth Panel who will create exhibitions, run events and help advise us on the types of workshops and activities that young people would like to see in the museum.

After the great success of our first ever Takeover Day the museum team has seen how beneficial it can be to give ownership to young people and that’s why we would like to continue this work.

Here is the video from our takeover day:

Takeover Day at Lowewood Museum from Kingstreetimages on Vimeo.

If you are aged between 14 and 24 and are interested in getting involved then get in touch with the museum to find out more.

Lowewood Museum
High Street
Hoddesdon
Herts
EN11 8BH

museum.leisure@broxbourne.gov.uk
01992 445596
Twitter: @lowewood

Volunteer Update

Our volunteers are an incredible asset to the Epping Forest District and Lowewood Museums service and to our Heritage Lottery Funded project. They bring a vast array of skills and enthusiasm, and we’re very lucky that so many of our volunteers are also members of local historical societies, U3A groups and volunteer in other local historical venues as their knowledge and expertise considerably enhance our collections and research. However, you don’t have to be already knowledgeable in history to volunteer, we’re keen to involve all levels of interest and experience, and so many skills are transferable to collections care!

We will be updating you on the opportunities and volunteer projects over the year, this blog will give you a first-hand insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ work that our volunteer collections team assist us with.

At Epping Forest District Museum

In September, 2014 the volunteer collections team at Epping Forest District Museum returned to the stores alongside the Collections Manager and Volunteer Coordinator after a brief summer break.

As you may be aware the museum is closed for a refurbishment project so the staff and volunteers got stuck into the task of returning objects that had been on permanent display in the museum back to their original locations in the stores. This sounds simple, but can be a challenge, as a lot of what we do involves a fair amount of detective work! In order to relocate objects, we carefully unwrapped them from their protective acid free tissue to look for their accession number, a unique code found in every museum which identifies each object, this lets us know what the object is (as you can’t always tell from just looking at it) and where its store location is.

Our stores are vast and have hundreds of boxes, so it would be impossible to locate and put away objects safely and correctly without these accession numbers and correct cataloguing. The volunteers then hunt for the number and its location on our collections management system, a computer based database, and we go seeking the correct box in the stores. Along the way we got to look at a vast array of fascinating objects, and it can be difficult staying on task!

Packing Objects

Volunteer Philip packing a box with acid free tissue for packing and future transport. He creates little ‘clouds’ of acid free tissue to support individual objects. The box is then sealed, with a packing list, and ready to go back to its store location!

Packing objects

Vanessa, collections volunteer, updating the object packing lists. This list goes into the box with the objects, so we have a record of what should be in there, and the object requirements, for example weight and fragility. This means when someone moves the box, they can tell what requirements the contents of the box has without any unnecessary handling of the objects which could damage fragile items.

Our archaeological collections proved an interesting challenge when we were repacking, as we placed incredibly fragile iron objects into airtight plastic boxes with fresh silica gel creating a ‘micro climate’ that protects the iron from degrading in humid environments. This involved very careful handling, as some iron objects, such as nail fragments can flake or crumble.

Copper Alloy Tap

Volunteer Peter holding a copper alloy tap from Waltham Abbey Church, this unusual design of two animal heads and an animal head spout is thought to be a tap from a beer barrel. We were all thrilled by this medieval tap, and it requires careful packing in order to protect the decorative design.

At Lowewood Museum

Over at Lowewood museum, one of our volunteers was involved in assisting museum staff in the creation of the updated Braham Gallery, which celebrates our archaeological collections. Many of our archaeological collections have limited or no individual records, as a lot of archaeological collections tend to be ‘bulk’ recorded, due to the large numbers of objects that are collected. Volunteer Lia, who has a background in archaeology, assisted us by helping to record and update our records so our education and exhibitions team were able to share the stories of these objects.

Museum volunteer

Lia, writing object descriptions and location movement slips.

mammoth

A molar tooth of a mammoth, one of the many prehistory objects Lia was researching.

And of course, besides all of our hard work at the stores we ensure we celebrate with our volunteers at Epping Forest District and Lowewood Museums. This year we had our first joint volunteer Christmas party and we’re looking forward to a busy and exciting 2015!

Volunteer party

Volunteer Christmas party at Lowewood Museum, we had a pretty splendid buffet and celebrated the wonderful achievements of all our volunteers throughout 2014.

Meet the Team – Volunteer Coordinator (Collections)

Name
Katie Weston

Job title
Volunteer Coordinator (Collections)

Describe a typical working day at Epping Forest District and Lowewood Museums.
Anything from working at our museum stores on collections projects with the Collections Manager and volunteers, to researching best practice for volunteer management, writing policies and sourcing funding applications. It’s busy and diverse, which I enjoy!

What is your favourite thing about working at the Museum?
Besides the volunteers and staff, who are so committed and passionate about their roles, I have been fascinated by the collections at Epping Forest District Museum. It’s a joy to work with a collection that is so eclectic.

Share one piece of advice for those interested in working in the Museum field.
Be confident and versatile; remember that ‘soft skills’ are highly valuable in any career. I also think having a good understanding of funding streams and strong IT skills is very helpful in getting ahead in the progressing Museum field.

Which historical figure would you like to meet and why. What would you ask them?
Erno Goldfinger, to talk concrete, modernism and post war housing solutions!

Where would you choose to go/visit if you could go anywhere in the world for a day?
I have a long established plan to visit Russia and travel on the Trans Siberian Express.

What was the first music track or album you bought?
No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom.