Walking up the pathway and through the wrought iron gates as I look towards the museum I still can’t quite believe that I’m off to do a day’s work! As a social history nerd with a penchant for cooking utensils to be given the opportunity to get behind the scenes, learn all about collections management and gain practical curatorial skills is more than I could have hoped for – not to mention the impressive location.
It is the everyday objects that interest me the most. Not the crown jewels or the Elgin marbles but the jelly mould or an ACME mangle. I believe these objects give us far more scope to understand how our predecessors went about their daily routines and really bring history to life. Originally from Brighton, I moved to Norwich to study history and literature at the UEA and never really left. I spent a summer working as a Heritage Intern at the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre in London before heading back to Norfolk. Starting as one of three new Rural Collections Trainees at Gressenhall has been fantastic and full on. Its now three weeks in and we’ve already donned the white gloves and opened the boxes.
To get a good grip on the necessities of collections management we have been going through the process of organising and categorising one of the museum’s most recent acquisitions (yes- really! we’ve always got room for more!) The new collection is a fascinating array of items donated to the museum by Ray Hubbard, a Norfolk gentleman who worked on a local farm with Suffolk Punches until the 1960’s. To identify some of the horseshoes we’ve found out lots of information from Steve Pope, the Research Team Leader and Richard Dalton, the Farm Manager. It’s been great to speak with people who are still using similar tools here on the farm at Gressenhall. It highlights how connected the working farm is to the collections and why it is so important to preserve heritage skills.
There are many aspects to the traineeship that I’m really looking forward to. We will undertake lots of training on site with Megan the Curator but also go on placements to experience how different museums operate. This Friday we’re off to Denny Abbey and Farmland Museum in Cambridgeshire. It will be interesting to visit another rural life museum with a similar focus but based at a very different site to Gressenhall.
Working at Gressenhall gives us a very varied schedule. Next week we are having a farm induction and will learn how to plough! (this definitely wasn’t in the job description!?)
Until then, keep your fingers crossed for us!
Thanks for reading,
Rural Collections Trainee