To celebrate our incredible team of volunteers, we interviewed one of our dedicated team members, Judy Herbert. With over 20 years’ experience at the Weald & Downland Living Museum, Judy shares her journey from steward to Curatorial Assistant within the team of expert historians.
Judy Herbert …
I began volunteering in 2001. I started my MA in Museum Studies and needed a volunteer role for the course. After a year working as a steward, I was lucky enough to join the team admitting and documenting artefacts as they were being moved on site. I was really interested in the collection, care and conservation of the pieces, and although my course finished in 2004, I continued volunteering as I loved the ‘hands on’ style of the role. I had no experience of working in a museum prior to this. Originally, I was a Graphic Designer, and I worked at Petworth House before retiring in 2016.
I love that we’re an open-air museum, and the artefacts are not locked up indoors, behind glass. It’s an enjoyable and nice world to come to.
Weather permitting, we are outside, cleaning and organising across the Museum. I can talk to visitors and share my passion for what we have here, explaining how the items were used in people’s lives through history.
I’ve had so many memorable moments! I was involved in the acquisition of the 19th Century Reading-style Gypsy Caravan. Julian and I drove with another team member to Tunbridge and brought the caravan back to the Museum on a trailer. It was lovely to be involved in sorting through the collection of items, photographing and documenting them all. I was also part of the restoration team and painted parts of the caravan.
I really enjoy working with the existing artefacts and new collections that come in. Being able to contribute to their restoration and documentation to share with the public is a joy. Lots of the items I work with would not be seen if they weren’t with us and it’s great to put the spotlight on them for everyone to enjoy.
We recently had some veterinary items brought in by three generations of vets. The artefacts dated back to Victorian times, through to the 1960s. To see the instruments used over 100 years ago is incredible. I’ve spent time describing, examining and researching what they were used for and have learnt so many new facts about an area of history I didn’t know I would be interested in.
To find out more about volunteering at the Weald & Downland Living Museum click here.