What’s it like to be: Collections Assistant – Hannah Keen
Collections Assistant Trainee, Hannah Keen, reflects on her first 6 months at the Museum. Hannah’s 12-month placement, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, runs from February 2016 – February 2017.
“I was keen to apply for the traineeship because I saw it as a great opportunity to work with collections in a unique setting. Prior to applying I had volunteered at other museums, but upon seeing this position I jumped at the chance to diversify at an open air museum, and challenge my skill set working with such a varied collection.”
Q. “What did you already know about the area of work and why did you want to undertake the traineeship?”
A. “My goal is to find a career in working with museum’s collections and I knew that this position would be a great way to get on the job training and experience. The trainee post had specifically mentioned that I would be working on a project to digitise the Museum’s incredibly vast slide collection. Personally, I am very interested in museums digitising their collections and making them accessible online, so getting to be a part of that process was very appealing.”
Q. “What would you say are your main achievements during your traineeship so far?”
A. “My main achievements so far have been centred on developing a system of digitising the slides and implementing this successfully. It involved a lot of trial and error to come up with a simple and efficient way of digitising such a large volume of slides. It has been really enjoyable to see this project grow from the ground up.”
Q. “What have you enjoyed the most during the traineeship?”
A. “I am really enjoying learning what goes into managing a large collection of objects. I love getting to take part in monitoring the objects and understanding how to care for them. A huge part of my passion for working here is getting the chance to work with the staff and volunteers. Everyone has made me feel very welcome and I feel that I am learning a lot from each of them.”
Q. “What has most challenged you during the traineeship?”
A.”The slide collection I am currently working on is one of several collections, totalling around 80,000 slides, which belonged to the Museum’s founder, the late Dr. J.R. Armstrong MBE. Roy Armstrong was a keen photographer with a specialist interest in architecture, and these slides are predominantly of timber-framed buildings.
One of the challenges for me has been trying to learn as much about timber-framed buildings as I can, so that I can put detailed entries onto the database. Luckily, the Collection team have been able to help, pointing me in the direction of useful reading material.”
Q. “How do you think you will use the experience here in the future (both immediately and in the longer term).”
A. “In my first few months of my traineeship I have learned a great deal about collections care. This has been great experience, as in the future I want to continue to work with collections in museums. I have also gained an understanding of how museums run on the day-to-day, which will be useful as I pursue a career within the sector.”
Q. “What are your favourite objects from the Museum collection?”
A. “As I have spent so much time with the slide collection it only seems right that my favourite objects so far have been the images taken of the Museum in its early stages, including images from early event days. It has been fascinating to see how much the Museum has grown and to see that, at its core, it remains the same.”
The Museum team would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the role of Collections Assistant Trainee for twelve months, and also Hannah for her hard work.