Our Community Engagement intern, Esther agreed to write a blog post for us, highlighting some of her experiences with Bradford Museums & Galleries so far.
Although an internship scheme has been running at Bradford for many years, in April 2013 Bradford museums and Galleries was awarded Strategic Support Funding by the Arts Council enabling them to offer a number of paid internships and trainee-ships, open for application by anyone, over the course of the following two years. With no specific background or qualifications required, the posts have provided a practical way of learning about careers in the museum and gallery sector. The range of working areas covered by the posts has been very varied – curatorial and education are tried and tested positions covered by internships, but brand new positions such as the Digital and Print Media Trainee-ship at Cartwright Hall, have been added to the scheme.
Last summer whilst volunteering on the ‘Squash and a Squeeze’ exhibition at Cartwright Hall I was exploring ways to become more involved with Bradford Museums and Galleries, when an opportunity to work as an intern within the community engagement team arose. I was lucky enough to get the position, based at the Industrial Museum. Engaging with children, playing with puppets and reading the stories of Julia Donaldson at Cartwright Hall, has turned into meeting groups of older visitors from across the Bradford district, who have allowed us to record their stories of life during the war.
I’ve done a few internships before in other museums, and they have enabled me to gain knowledge of new database systems, develop data entry skills and make industry contacts that will hopefully be helpful in the future. However my time at BIM has by far been the most interesting and useful in developing my knowledge and understanding of the sector.
My main role is focused on working with Penny Green on The Poppy Project. My biggest task on this project has been to edit and transcribe the collection of oral histories that have been gathered from participants involved in making the Poppy Field. Although this may not sound greatly exciting to everyone, I’ve found that oral histories are a brilliant way to learn and have become really attached to the project.
Having completed this part of the project, I’m now looking into how to properly document the recordings making them a key part of the museums collection, so that they can be accessed for use in the future by researchers, education teams and as part of exhibitions. As this is something that Bradford Museums and Galleries have little experience with, much research and consideration has to be put into how we go about the process. This has enabled me to create new contacts with other museums and go on visits to see how their archives work. For the first time, I am involved in the development of a collection rather than carrying out routine tasks. I’ve also been able to help with writing publications, organising and coordinating events, researching, and volunteer coordination.
I’m interested in a range of museum roles, and have been given the opportunity to work with the team at BIM who have kindly offered to help me gain experience with object movement, exhibition installation and have provided insights into bidding for project funding.
Everyone here is extremely helpful, and appreciative of the work being done by interns and trainees. People are happy to give advice about progression into museum careers and are greatly encouraging, although it is a tough time to be getting into the sector.
I have been made to feel welcome, respected and appreciated by everyone at BM&G. The efficient training I have received has meant that I have quickly become a part of a team that I’ve been made to feel comfortable in, and am constantly learning from work that I feel makes a difference to the museums and collections.
Bradford Museums and Galleries are supported by an amazing team of staff who make it a really great place to learn.