In this week’s post, our data entry officer, Celia, shares her experiences of her work behind the scenes at Sherborne Museum.
The very first time I walked into Sherborne Museum it was to ask about volunteering.
I had recently moved to Sherborne after years of moving around the country with my job, and usually to places that I hadn’t chosen myself. When retirement loomed, and with no roots anywhere in particular, my husband and I decided it was time that we got to choose where to live. On the way home from a holiday in the West Country, we stopped over in Sherborne, a town we had never been to before, and our decision was made. We felt we could settle here! We are now living in a village a short distance from town and are very happy with the decision we made. With some time to spare, and wanting to find practical ways of learning more about the town and the area, I thought of volunteering at the museum.
As a contrast to my previous full-time job, I now wanted something ‘behind the scenes’ where I could work free from schedules or deadlines. Working on the accessions team suits me perfectly; I normally do one morning a week, and more when I have the opportunity. I assist with logging new artefacts and maintaining the records of existing ones. There is a database which holds comprehensive details of everything that has been donated or is on loan, with its location in the museum. Alongside the day-to-day record-keeping, we’ve just started carrying out an audit of all the museum’s artefacts – a mammoth task that will keep us busy for the foreseeable future! Although everything is logged on the database, we also keep the original paper records, so we need to make sure that everything ties up and that items are properly recorded. The database allows us to search by keyword for anything that’s in the museum, and it’s really important that it is accurate so that we can search for items – to get their location, or to learn more about them. I’m fascinated by the enormous range of artefacts that the museum holds: photographs and newspaper cuttings recording Sherborne’s history, archaeological remains, clothing, toys and dolls, books, as well as important items of social history – and not everything is old; items from this century also have a historic value.
As I’m discovering, life as a volunteer at the museum is never dull, with new artefacts being donated (or discovered) all the time, new jobs and responsibilities to take on, and the opportunity to take further training through the network of Dorset museums.