Chapter Five- All things digital
Week Nineteen- Back to business!
After a wonderful few days in Holland, I returned to work feeling excited about the amazing things that were happening around the globe in the sector I was fortunate to be working in.
One of the first tasks for the day was to catch up with the Project Team for our weekly briefing. This meeting was mostly going to be about the Digital Late which was now less than two weeks away!
After the meeting we met with Peter Lang who was producing our exciting AR (augmented reality) Trail. Nitisha and I were happy to test the trail to ensure that it was working as it should.
As well as focusing on the Digital Takeover, the team were in the middle of deciding on which community projects we were going to go ahead with. After spending time studying the brief our Interpretation Consultant Natasha prepared for us, we agreed on which project we thought would be the most successful. We also considered most importantly which project would meet the aims and outcomes that we developed with our evaluation consultant Laura in the Logic Model.
Later in the week, I was fortunate to go on a Shop Safari in London with Retail Consultant, Selina Fellows. Within the traineeship I am given the opportunity to express other areas which I would like to focus on and develop in further. I showed an interest in the retail side, hence the reason for going on this trip.
The Shop Safari, as the name states, was a safari around different museum shops within London. The idea was to research what other stores were doing for example andlooking at their visual merchandising, the stock etc. I was joined by two members of staff from The Buckinghamshire County Museum and fortunate to have the expertise of Selina. I was very excited to visit the new V&A gift shop, which as to be expected looked fantastic!
Coming towards the end of another busy week, I dedicated the rest of my time to working on the Digital Late.
I was experimenting with some of the items I recently purchased for the activities. We tested some of the equipment a few weeks ago, and discovered that some worked better than others.
We met with Adam from the University ArtLab to finalise the plans and activities which they would be leading over the course of the night. It was great to have people on board who were focused, and just as enthusiastic about the event as we were and it encouraged us even more to believe that the event was going to be successful.
Week Twenty- It’s Show Time!
So the week had finally arrived for our exciting Late event The Digital Takeover, part of the Museums at Night festival.
I was prepared mentally for it to be an intense week, however I also looked forward to seeing everything come together on the night!
If I hadn’t figured out how to multitask before now, I certainly had a good practice at it this week!
The final tasks for the event ranged from writing a lot of instructions and ‘how to guides’ for some of the activities as well as last minute marketing through social media. I also liaised with speakers for the evening to ensure they were all ok and various other administrative duties.
After several months of preparing for The Digital Takeover, the big night had arrived! I was feeling slightly apprehensive at the beginning of the week, but strangely calmer on the actual day. The build up to the event throughout the course of the day conjured a mixture of exciting and nervous emotions. I knew how hard the team had worked and wanted so much for the event to be successful. A few days prior to the event we were told that Rosie Clarke, the organiser of the Museums at Night festival had chosen to visit The MERL as one of her picks for the week….no pressure!
By 7pm, plenty of guests had begun to arrive and the atmosphere was buzzing. We had a local band Forget Gravity playing electronic yet subtle background music, with themed cocktails flowing in the reception area. Throughout the whole museum, there were plenty of activities to keep the guests entertained from fascinating talks in the galleries to innovative demonstrations in the studio. People were having fun in the nook with the virtual reality headsets viewing the Ancient Rome model by Dr Matthew Nicholls and the Reading Abbey ruins.
The Reading Room, a place where people can study in a peaceful and quiet environment, had been completely transformed for the night!
We had in one corner Aaron from The Cole Museum digitally scanning people. In the rest of the room the ArtLab team showcased an array of remarkable crafts incorporating robots and various models made up of little bits, micro bits and recyclables. In another part of the room, we had The Ure Museum demonstrating the projects they had been working on, as well as The MERL sharing its new found knowledge on 3D Printing. I was fortunate to also be in the mix of the digital crafts by assisting guests in creating some cool 3D printed key-rings and fridge magnets using the 3D Printing Pen, which turned out to be a lot of fun!
By the end of the evening, I felt so relieved and happy that everything went well! We had some positive feedback and the next stage was to evaluate the event, and analyse what was really successful and the areas to improve on for next time.
Week Twenty-One /Twenty-Two- Picture Perfect
It was the week after the big event and also the end of another busy month!
It seemed to have happened all so quickly and yet there is never a dull moment in the life of a Museum Diversity Trainee!
This week I had a big task of organising the schedule for aphotographer’s visit to The MERL. This was similar to the job that I had at Reading Museum a few months ago and with the same photographer Phil, but this time I had more responsibility. Alison was away on a training course this week, and therefore she left me in charge with a list of the areas around the museum which required photographing.
It was important to arrange in advance to have models set up in various areas, as it wasn’t guaranteed that we would be able to use people on the actual day. It was set to be a busy day on Friday, with the Friday Fledglings group as well as various other groups coming to visit the museum.
I was fortunate to be able to liaise with some of my colleagues beforehand to arrange to photograph some of the activities taking place. I had to ensure that all the areas that would focus purely on the rooms and artefacts were prepped and tidy. I spoke with some of the models I had in place in regards to the clothing they were required to wear, i.e. advising they wear bright colours.
Phil arrived promptly and I looked forward to getting started. The sun was shining and we couldn’t have picked a better day for photographing the beautiful MERL garden! The toddlers were also on top form in the Friday Fledglings session outdoors.
I had the opportunity to play Photographer’s Assistant by helping with the lighting in certain areas of the gallery using Phil’s specialist photography equipment.
Overall I felt we had a very productive day. I was fortunate to work with some really nice people who volunteered to model as well as gaining the help from my fellow colleagues who assisted in a number of areas.
In the following week, I worked with Nitisha to prepare a presentation based on our Erasmus Trip to The Netherlands. The purpose of the presentation was to enlighten our colleagues on the wonderful things we had learnt, how these things could possibly be applied to both museums and to share some lovely photographs!
I also continued with some cataloguing which I had begun at Reading Museum. The museum recently set up their new exhibition, Reading Abbey Quarter: Then and Now. I was asked to make a note of the prints that were missing from the online catalogue and update them onto Modes. This was my first real experience of doing cataloguing which I looked forward to working on.
Towards the end of the week, I attended the Happy Museum Conference held at the Town Hall. It was always nice to attend conferences and meetings here. Even though I worked just next door, I wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to see such grand rooms.
The Happy Museum was based on the topic of wellbeing. We explored how we can incorporate the concept of wellbeing into our jobs and how we can be more proactive in delivering this to our local community. It was a wonderful opportunity to network and speak with others about projects. I was particularly impressed by The Paper Apothecary Project presented by the Director of The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge in Canterbury.
It could have been the fact that my parents were due to visit me this weekend, however I left the conference and ended the week feeling as one would expect after a Happy Museum conference…happy!