From the beginning of 2019 we will be beginning to move collections from the Gloucester Life Museum in Westgate Street to our sister museum In Brunswick Road and other storage facilities. This is to help with the transfer of ownership of the building to the Civic Trust. We will need quite a big volunteer team to help us with this huge task.
There are quite a few elements to the relocation task. Some volunteers might want to get involved in all of them, others may choose to specialise in just one or two areas.
Taking items out of the stores and preparing them for transport.
This may involve wrapping and labelling fragile objects or repacking boxes with extra paper or plasterzote foam so objects do not shift while they are being transported. If there is any damage to objects before they are transported this will need to be noted. Many of the objects in storage at the Life Museum are held in stores on upper floors only accessible by staircases which are in some cases steep and narrow. Therefore a good level of mobility and some physical stamina is required for actually taking objects out of stores. You will need to be patience and methodical as you prepare each object for transport. We will teach you the best ways to wrap and protect objects (very helpful for next time you move house), but there is always an element of problem solving with some of our odder shaped objects – and we have a few of those!
Making storage areas ready for objects.
This could involve assembling and labelling shelving, or giving stores a clean before the objects come in. We will also be putting in environmental monitoring equipment and insect traps.
Unpacking objects and storing them in their new locations.
This will involve unwrapping some objects and checking them over for any damage and completing a condition report if needed. Other objects will go directly onto racks in their boxes. Some of the storage spaces at the Museum of Gloucester are only accessible up staircases so a good level of mobility and physical stamina may be required for some of this work. A flare for problem solving to work out how to get the maximum things onto shelves but in a way that leaves the objects accessible and safe will also be required. Equally we have very accessible storage areas and lighter objects, so we can accommodate most people with this task.
Listing the objects in their new locations.
It is important that the museum has a precise location for each and every object whether it is kept in a store or behind the scenes. In some stores we might need you to make handwritten lists or create a list onto a computer to be added to our database later. We keep the object records on a database system called MODES (really a giant access database dressed up a bit.) We will teach you how to use this database so you can make the alterations to show the new locations accurately. It requires basic IT skills but we can support you as you gets to grips with the MODES system. It is most important though that you can be precise and accurate in the recording of the locations.
The stores move will start in early 2019 but we are keen to collect volunteers now to start off the project and all the way through the next three – five years of the project.
Why get involved?
Volunteering for some or all aspects of this task will give you a good insight into behind the scenes work at a museum. You will gain and practice many of the curatorial, object handling and documentation skills that are required to work in a museum and that you are often expected to have experience of for paid Museum employment, so you’d have lots to talk about in an interview or application form for such a role. The challenge requires a mixture of team and individual work so whatever your preferred working style there are parts of this challenge that would appeal to you. Due to the sheer amount of work involved in stores moves, a sense of real comradery is always developed whatever role you play in the team. It’s a very memorable experience and you’ll get a real sense of achievement from seeing the project inch along.
You’ll also get unique access to the Museum’s collections as every item will need to be examined, packed and unpacked and documented. You’ll also pick up some conservation and packing tips for objects around your own home and if you are part of the decanting or restocking teams you’ll also get a bit of a workout without having to pay gym fees!
The stores transfer will take a number of years so there is a lot of scope for different volunteering patterns within the project. Some people might want to volunteer one morning, afternoon or day a week or fortnight for a few years, others just for a few months. Others might want to volunteer for an intensive but short burst of time. Or you might have a different volunteer pattern in mind. Whatever the time is that you are able to give, we are very likely to be able to accommodate this within this project.
How to get involved?
- Sign into your account or sign up to Volunteer Makers.
- Accept the challenge
- Await a response from the Museum of Gloucester with more information
- Project Management
- Working with Children 0-5yrs
- Working with Databases
- Computers and Technology
- Curatorial/Working with Museum Collection