Starting at a new place is always a little bit hair raising. As I made my way to Bolton Museum the commute from Manchester (where I am staying) was smooth and the sun was shining which helped to put me at ease (though I cannot deny the lingering nerves). Once I arrived in the front hall and was greeted by Teri and Laura, all of my nerves vanished.
As with any new job, the first day of the internship involved a tour of the building (museum, library, and aquarium), introductions to every staff member that was passed, and lots of manual and policy reading. I felt special seeing all of the behind the scenes rooms including the workshop (where all of the displays are built), the aquarium room for fish that are not currently on display, and, most importantly, the museum itself.
Currently the museum is off limits to the public as it is being given a rather large and extensive facelift. I was allowed to sneak behind the doors and see how the museum was once structured (room designations, case set ups, etc.) and the plans for the future. While there are still a few items left in the museum (i.e. the large spinning wheel in the local history exhibit as well as the elephant head on the wall in the natural history gallery), the floors have mostly been cleared out. It was clear where the new designs were being planned and set up. I cannot wait to be part of and see the progress that will be made.
Day two has swung around quickly and I have been down in the stores, digging for bees for one of the upcoming displays. The over all goal for the display is to show the public what is being done with the mementos that were left on the steps of town hall in remembrance of the victims of the Manchester attack. Once the bees were located, we carefully escorted them up to the lab where I documented each bee’s number and position in the drawer while Teri cut a Plastazote heart. Once we were each finished with our individual tasks, I chose bees from the drawer and carefully pinned them to the Plastazote background, using the pins that they were already attached to. Bombus bees were used for the border while Melanobombus were used in the centre of the heart to represent the 22 victims.
There are many items from the steps that are being conserved and will be on display, such as cards, balloons, and stuffed animals. Teri and Laura have been separating and cleaning the cards and balloons by hand with brushes and water while the stuffed animals were frozen, to kill any pests that were present from being outside, and then tumble dried on low in pillow cases to thoroughly dry the interior stuffing. Ideally, these objects will be making their way on to display by the end of the week.
Other projects that will be addressed in the soon to be future include: the moving of the zoological collection so that work on the ceiling can be done, working and cleaning at the off site collections store, assessing the current state of some of the collections, and perhaps working on the Egyptian exhibit. It has also been mentioned that I might get the opportunity to receive a more in depth tour of the archives as well as work with conservators outside of the museum.
Overall, the first couple of days have been filled with thrilling sights and the future looks promising. While I hardly remember everyone’s names, the staff in all sectors of the building have been welcoming and have offered their extensive fonts of knowledge (which I fully plan on taking advantage of!). I cannot help but look forward to the many days ahead and thank Jane Henderson and Johanna Thunberg for helping me find my way to this internship.