7 Jun 2016

Volunteering in Conservation

I’m Ayesha and I have been volunteering at Birmingham Museums for around one and a half years. I first began volunteering as a Silver Project Conservation Assistant at the end of 2014. I have written about this in my previous blog.

This year the Silver Project moved to the Museum Collections Centre (MCC) to work on the silver collection stored at this site which has been very exciting. There is a massive mixture of objects at MCC; during the walk to where the other volunteers and I work, I pass a piano, huge bits of machinery and motors, several taxidermy moose (plus a bear, birds and foxes), furniture, and vehicles among so many more objects that if I listed them we would be here for a very long time. As we are now based in MCC, and the objects are accessioned we need to be more thorough with the information we record, so that if need be changes can be made to the collection database.

Ayesha working on the silver project

While volunteering I began to be drawn to a career which involved collections and documentation but I wasn't really sure if it was for me, or truthfully, what the full extent of a job in that area would entail. Therefore when the opportunity to volunteer as Long Term Loans Assistant was advertised, I jumped at the chance. This role involves researching the long term loans in and out of Birmingham Museums to create a summary listing the objects, provenance and movement history. I use both the collection database KeEMu and the loan records which usually contain old correspondence about the objects.

Ayesha working on the Long Term Loans

It’s a bit like being a detective; Misaho, the Long Term Loans Officer, will give me a file and what she would like me to find out and I look through all the information and find the answers. I have also audited a Gallery at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and updated the objects locations on the database. This has been a really interesting and varied role and I have really enjoyed it, and have decided a collections management job is definitely for me.

I began volunteering to see if I would enjoy working in the sector, but instead I have realised the job I would like to get in the future, and gained immeasurable experience in museums. Later this year I will begin a Masters in Museum Studies so that I can learn more about museum practice and begin my career.

Ayseha working on the Silver Project

If you are interested in volunteering for Birmingham Museums then take a look at the current volunteering opportunities we have available across all our sites.