Buxton Museum and Art Gallery offers work experience placements to students. We recently enjoyed the company of a very polite and enthusiastic young man named Charlie Hyland. After two weeks, we asked him to write about his experiences. Over to you, Charlie:
On the first day of my work experience, I was intrigued to see the museum lifestyle. It certainly isn’t what it seems from the outside. Nervous pre-work feelings didn’t help as I was stuck outside for ten minutes trying to find the doorbell!
Straight away, I was whisked away into my ‘office’ to get on with sorting the lithics (small stone tools). This was a mammoth task. The lithics were found during a recent field walk between Hartington lower quarter running North-East to Barlow, studying over a thousand fields in the process. I was left to make a start, and as it was the first day I was totally immersed in the excitement of lithics. I hadn’t realised that it was going to be the prominent activity throughout my placement. It was very important to make a start on this project because it gives a guideline for other people to follow on from where I left off. It was also a great help as the re-packing is dramatically decreasing the surface area of the collection, allowing it to be fitted much more easily into the vast museum stores.
On day two, I was introduced to Ben and Les who are the team who sort out the exhibitions and technical difficulties. We took down the previous exhibition by Christopher J. Beard. His artwork was replaced by the late Arto Funduklian who was Armenian and moved to Buxton for the latter of his life, building up a collection of paintings. When he passed away, his brother handed his collection over to Buxton museum and it has stayed here ever since. The collection includes Arto’s infamous turtle shell glasses.
The remainder of week one was filled with a similar range of events consisting predominantly of lithics with the occasional trip into the stores. It went quite fast so as the phrase goes, I must have been having fun.
After a short weekend break, I returned for week two to carry on my work with lithics, but as time progressed I was given more responsibility and went on a trip to the very exotic- sounding Melandra but unfortunately it was only in nearby Glossop. I was allowed to arrange the Melandra collection case in Glossop Library.
Afterwards, we visited Melandra Castle where we met the enthusiastic archaeologist Mike Brown. It was interesting to hear the historical value of this location and how it had been used throughout the ages. On the other hand, it was demoralising to hear how the site had received so much support over time but gradually lost it until it became an overgrown out-of-the-way place few people know exists.
Later on, after finishing the tea supply, I was finished with lithics for one day and was lucky enough to go and tidy up the mineral collection in the museum stores. This was particularly interesting to me as minerals are one of my main areas of interest and it was fascinating to see the large collection the museum held from Derbyshire.
My work experience has been fantastic because I feel that the museum team had organised it very well. I always had something to do; normally lithics sorting, but whenever someone went out to do something more interesting, I was given the opportunity to engage myself: Gallery work with Les and Ben, archaeology trips with Joe and Dave to and visiting the museum stores where mysteries and treasures can be found.
Unfortunately, I have to return to school *yawn* and I wish I could stay as it is certainly a lot more fun. All in all, it has been a great experience for me, I hope the Collections in the landscape project goes well and is finished with ease. I look forward to seeing the newly renovated museum.