Hands-on with History

Mar 05 2014

Volunteer Bryan John on his experience working with Museums Sheffield’s Archaeology collection:

'I’m a student at Sheffield University currently studying for a MA in Early Modern History. I’ve always wanted a career working in museums, and I quickly realised that without any experience there was little chance of this happening. So in February 2013, I emailed Museums Sheffield to offer my services as a volunteer.

There were lots of opportunities to work in many different departments and roles across the organisation, but in September one that really appealed to me became available. The project was to work with the archaeology collections; unpacking the contents of various boxes, auditing, condition checking, documenting the objects and taking photographs before repackaging them to the correct standard.

Roman patera'The project was such an amazing opportunity to get up close and handle archaeological material that I would never have the chance to do elsewhere. One of the highlights was unpacking a copper alloy Roman patera (ritual bowl) that was in pristine condition. If there were any objects that caught our interest we were able to investigate them further by looking at the catalogue cards or archival history files.

'I was part of a team of 27 volunteers and there was something of interest for everyone. Some worked on jewellery or tools, and I also enjoyed working on a collection of weaponry that included axe and spear heads dating from the Bronze Age.

'I’ve been fortunate enough to continue to volunteer with Museums Sheffield one day a week, transferring the information gathered from the project onto the museum’s digital database. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend an object interpretation course held at the Millennium Gallery where I learnt a lot of useful information and ideas about object displays. There were many other projects that I would have liked to have taken part in had I not been so busy!

'I’m really enjoying my time as a volunteer, so much so that I’ve decided to enrol on a Museum Studies MA next year. Volunteering with Museums Sheffield has given me the much-needed skills and experience to help me achieve my career goals, and I’ve made friends and learnt a lot along the way.'

If you would like to volunteer for Museums Sheffield, visit our Volunteering page to find out more about current opportunities.

Volunteers are set start work on the second phase of the archaeology collections project in spring 2014. We’re hoping to recruit for the 2015 intake later this year – check our website in the autumn for more information.


Top: Volunteers Bryan John and Olivia Froment working with the collection
Right: Patera, Romano-British



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