It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a new entry. This is mostly because I’ve spent the vast majority of my time working. Rather than keep silent because of this, I thought why not post about what exactly I do. I’ll start by saying each week is completely different. Although this might sound exhausting to some, shaking things up, to me, keeps things interesting. I thoroughly enjoy doing something a little different every day!
Here is a basic list of my roles:
- Heritage Interpreter – Cockatoo Island
- Curator – Harry Daly Museum
- Program Producer/VSO – Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences
- Digitization Assistant – State Library of New South Wales
- Museum Assistant – Hurstville Museum
- Curriculum Program Deliverer – Sydney Living Museums
The rest of the post will literally go day-by-day through my week.
Roles: Program Producer – Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences and Digitization Assistant – State Library of New South Wales
My day begins at 11.00 am. I have a four hour shift working on the floor of the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences assisting in delivering their school holiday program. This time, the program consists of a huge archaeological dig pit containing hidden objects.
Until the 30th of April, the museum is showcasing the blockbuster exhibition ‘Egyptian Mummies’ from the British Museum. The dig pit was created to compliment this exhibition, allowing children to dig for their own ‘treasures’. During the shift, I welcome visitors to the space, interact with them in the dig pit, and monitor supplies. Children have the option of taking a bucket and a check list before jumping into the sand and digging away.
My shift ends and I leave the museum to travel to the State Library of New South Wales. Between 5.00 – 10.00 pm every Monday, I work with a small team that is currently digitising some of the rarer books in the library’s collection. We operate the scanners, handle the books, and capture each of their pages. As an estimate, we aim to scan around 500 pages per hour.
Roles: Visitor Services Officer – Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences
From 9.15 am to 5.15 pm, I am again on the floor of the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences. This time, however, my role is to essentially assist visitors with their enquiries.
Roles: Curriculum Program Deliverer – Sydney Living Museums
Today I had training for my new role as a Curriculum Program Deliverer with Sydney Living Museums. My day started at 9.30 am at the Justice & Police Museum. Considering I once volunteered with the Queensland Police Museum, I was extremely excited to learn more about New South Wales policing.
The morning consisted of a basic tour of the museum and an explanation of our roles. We then ran through the entirety of the program “A Trial Run” designed for High School Students.
Finally, we had a more comprehensive tour led by the curator. It is such a fascinating collection. Most importantly, the collection can tell some pretty incredible stories of how crime and justice have transformed in New South Wales over the decades. It is great to have the opportunity to share this history with visiting students.
Thursday and Friday:
Role: Curator – Harry Daly Museum
I am combining these two days together because every Thursday and Friday I work at the same location – the Harry Daly Museum.
On Thursday, I spent most of the day preparing the program for an upcoming seminar we’re running – Collecting, Curating, & Conserving. We have had such an excellent response to the seminar! Quite a few medical collections in Sydney will be represented along with some from Canberra, Melbourne, and regional New South Wales.
On Friday I spent the day with Vanessa working in the archives. She has been an amazing archives assistant. We are currently creating new “archive-safe” boxes, transferring the archival material, and re-auditing the collection. Soon we will start on some de-accessioning of objects.
At around 2.00 pm I gave a tour of the museum for the Heritage Festival. The visitors had no knowledge of anaesthesia and were surprised to learn about its complex history. Although an anaesthetic museum, I think of it more as a museum documenting how people have managed pain. There are so many stories behind the objects that show how we have had to deal with pain over time.
Role: Heritage Interpreter – Cockatoo Island
Saturday was a beautiful day to tour some people around the island. For the Heritage Festival Cockatoo Island is running three tours every Saturday and two every Wednesday that run through the convict history.
Today I had three completely packed out tours. Each tour lasts around 45 minutes and traced the material evidence left by the convicts. This is the kind of work I absolutely love – communicating history.
Role: Heritage Interpreter – Cockatoo Island
A perfect weekend for me is spending both days on the island. Rather than running three short tours, today I had one tour that lasted around 1.5 hours.
Our On Demand tours introduce visitors to the whole of the island. This includes its convict, reformatory school, prison, and naval shipyard history. The island is absolutely saturated with history and the evidence that remains can show us what life was like from 1839 to today.
I’ve actually enjoyed sitting down and writing about my week. It’s provided a great opportunity to reflect on what I do and how I spend my time. I am grateful to be involved with so many museums/heritage sites in such a diversity of roles.
Next week I have my graduation ceremony on Wednesday (finally after what seems like an eternity of waiting)! So something different all over again.
Also, the Museums Australia Conference is fast approaching so expect numerous entries between the 14th and 17th of May.