Hi, I am Pei, an MA student from University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies. It is my pleasure to share my summer placement experience at Cambridge Museum of Technology.
How does it feel to work in an independent Museum under redevelopment in summertime? ‘Well, it is dusty, dirty, and you will need to wear jeans in the museum’. After speaking with Morgan at the placement market at the School of Museum Studies, I decided to apply to Cambridge Museum of Technology for my eight-week work placement. I love working in small, independent museums and I enjoy challenges. Working in a museum under redevelopment definitely means that there will be new things happening every day.
About my job in the museum - I am working on the text panels for the new interpretation and new displays at the museum. I also assist with conservation tasks, such as cleaning objects that will be displayed in the future, cataloguing, marking new objects, and pest treatment. Recently, I got the chance to join the education team doing paper craft and engineering sessions for youngsters. Thanks to the museum staff for letting me try different things at the museum!
Tuesday is usually a research day. To help prepare the new exhibitions at the museum, I join the volunteer research team, who have worked for six months researching the history of Cambridge Instrument Company (a famous scientific instrument supplier, based in Cambridge), Chivers & Sons (a nationally-known brand of jams and jelly from Cambridge in 20th century), brewing, and the water supply in Cambridge. I have learned how to do research on social history, and also begun to understand a little bit of engineering (I had no idea of engineering before). Furthermore, studying secret history of Cambridge, it has amazed me that Cambridge is not only a university city, but also an innovative industrial city.
Conservation may be my favorite hands-on thing at the museum. We are cleaning the objects that are going on display. Some of them were in very poor condition and covered with dust and spider webs. Meanwhile, we are going through an epic battle with woodworm and pests at the museum. The woodworm will eat everything wood including the wooden case of the radios and TVs. So we are trying to get rid of the woodworm by freezing objects. The handy experience has helped me to put what I learned from the university into practice.
Although the museum is closed to the public, there are still a lot of events happening. For leisure, the museum have an outreach project called 'The Floating Museum', which tells the industrial history along the river, while visitors enjoy the beautiful scenery of River Cam. For those who want some inspiration, there are paper craft sessions and engineering training sessions for young enthusiasts.
Cambridge Museum of Technology is undergoing renovation of the old buildings and fixing its broken boiler. There will be a new exhibition space about 20th century Cambridge, new interpretation panels, multi-media displays and a café at the riverside. It is looking to reopen in April 2019.
The museum is a place for everyone. I have enjoyed the time I have spent in the museum and hope you enjoy and get inspiration from it as much as I did!