SHARE Volunteer Awards: Nominees Announced

We’re pleased to announce that the full list of nominees in the SHARE Volunteer Awards for Museums in the East is now available to download:

[prettyfilelink size=”” src=”” type=”pdf”]2015 Volunteer Awards Nomination List[/prettyfilelink]

The winners will be revealed at a celebration event on 4th June 2015.

#MuseumWeek at the British Schools Museum

A couple of weeks ago, Emily Shepperson (Curatorial Assistant, The British Schools Museum) gave us an introduction to #MuseumWeek on Twitter, and shared some ideas about how museums could make the most of it. Now, after a successful week on Twitter, Emily shares her experience of #MuseumWeek at the British Schools Museum.

Between the 23rd and 29th March 2015, over 1400 museums across the globe

Museum week logocame together to tweet about their organisations around seven daily themes. Worldwide over 179,600 tweets were sent.

For the British Schools Museum it was an exciting week. Following the SHARE #Museumweek training I had drawn up a plan of content as well as putting up posters and sending out a press release to promote our involvement.

Gathering the content together was really enjoyable and we started #secretsMW on Monday with our first ever Vine: a six second video of the stores. College students on a takeover day at the museum also wrote tweets about what they had been doing, and we posted these on their behalf which attracted retweets from @teensinmuseums and @kidsinmuseums.

#architectureMW Wednesday was a successful day with lots of interest, particularly from local press about photos tweeted of plans for major redevelopment of the site. From this interest we are hoping that the local paper will carry an editorial article about the proposed plans.

On Thursday #inspirationMW was a great opportunity to celebrate the work of our volunteers. I collected and tweeted nine volunteer comments, but unfortunately didn’t receive much interaction perhaps due to a lack of photographs. However, it was great to get the volunteers involved with social media and to gather wonderful comments which could be useful for other projects.

#familyMW Friday allowed us to showcase all the ways in which families can explore the museum. We talked about the museum ‘family’ and had comments from staff about their work which was re-tweeted and favourited but a range of people. This was a good way to raise awareness of social media with other team members. It was great to get a #FF (Follow Friday which encourages other account to follow you) along with @eh_stonehenge and @NMMgreenwich. This led to a flurry of interactions and new followers.

Many of the weekend tweets were scheduled, allowing me to check in and respond to activity. #favMW was all about favourite parts of the museum, and a tweet about the scones in the café generated the most activity!

Sunday’s #poseMW invited visitors in take photos of themselves in poses. Being aware of our audience demographic we focused instead on posting pictures of mannequins in the museum, and interesting costumes in archive photographs.

We received a lot of interaction throughout the week but our most successful feature was ‘Book Bingo’ on Monday #secretsMW. We ask people to tweet us a number between 5245 and 5537, and we would tweet back a picture of the book. We were surprised by the level of enthusiasm and replied to twelve bingo requests.

Over the week we gained 45 new followers and got to interact with a wide range of people and organisations. #Museumweek does involve a time commitment to work well but it is great for public and professional exposure, as well as being great fun to be involved with. I am looking forward to #Museumweek 2016.

Emily SheppersonCuratorial Assistant, British Schools Museum

@B_S_Museum /

Welcome All! Free training from the Front of House Forum

The SHARE Front of House Forum is pleased to offer a free, facilitated training session which will include:

  • Ensuring a warm welcome
  • Improving accessibility
  • Effective Communications – dealing with difficult Customers/Situations
  • Attitudes, behaviour, body language
  • Legal requirements: Health & Safety; Security including checking procedures
  • A positive approach to retailing

Lunch and all refreshments will be provided.

Click here for full details and to book your place.

Planning for #MuseumWeek 2015

On 11th March 2015, Amy Cotterill (Essex Museum Development Officer, @EssexMDO), led a training course for the SHARE region which introduced us to #MuseumWeek, and explored how museums can make the most of it. Emily Shepperson (Curatorial Assistant, The British Schools Museum) gives us her thoughts on the day and some ideas for planning for #MuseumWeek.

Museum week logo

With only one week to go many museums across the region are busy planning

to take part in #MuseumWeek 2015. The week of tweeting runs from Monday 23rd March to Sunday 29th and encourages museums worldwide to tweet about their fantastic organisation around seven different daily themes. Last year over 300 museums took part, and this year 1100 organisations have already signed up.

Having recently joined the British Schools Museums as Curatorial Assistant I was keen to set up a Twitter account in time for #MuseumWeek. I was really pleased to see the Twitter training session with SHARE as I was unsure of what to talk about for several of the daily themes.

Essex MDO Amy Cotterill ran an excellent afternoon at The National Horse Racing Museum, working through new and interactive ideas for each of the daily themes. Ideas ranged from ‘A dog’s day at the museum’ to getting visitors to vote for their favourite object. It was great to be able to share ideas with museums of different sizes. Amy also talked through the logistics of running #MuseumWeek and how to incorporate different platforms such as Storify.

At the British Schools Museum I have been gathering input from colleagues and volunteers to develop a varied and exciting plan for the week. Following Amy’s excellent advice we are putting out a press release and posters to promote the museums involvement in the initiative, and boost local awareness of our social media.

I am looking forward to getting more volunteers involved in #MuseumWeek, and responding to the conversations which so much twitter activity will generate.

There is still time to get involved with #MuseumWeek, register your organisation here and start tweeting!

Emily SheppersonCuratorial Assistant, British Schools Museum

@B_S_Museum /

Below are some of the ideas the group came up with for each day of #MuseumWeek, courtesy of Amy Cotterill. Click photos to enlarge.



Getting in the Corners

On 21st January 2015, around 80 delegates gathered at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, for the first ever SHARE and UCM Collections Care Conference. Ellie Ohara Anderson, UCM Intern, gives us her thoughts on the day.

Hello. My name is Ellie Ohara Anderson. I am in my final year of the MSc degree ‘Conservation for Archaeology and Museums’ at UniversityClare H College London. Since September 2014 I have been with the University of Cambridge Museums for my 10-month conservation internship.

I am expected to experience a wide range of conservation activities during the internship and attending conferences is one of them. So, I was grateful for the opportunity to go to the first SHARE & University of Cambridge Museums Conference on Collections Care in Cambridge on 21 January 2015.

The conference opened with a warm welcome by Simon Floyd (SHARE) and Julie Dawson (Fitzwilliam Museum). Both Simon and Julie thanked Deborah Walton (University of Cambridge Museums Regional Conservation Officer) for thinking up and organising the unusual conference programme. As the title Getting in the Cornerssuggests, the day lifted the lid on collections’ issues that tend to be shelved away somewhere in the corner of museums – but which everyone knows need to be tackled!

The first speaker was Quinton Carroll (Cambridgeshire County Council Historic Environment Team). He talked about solving the problem of storing a huge quantity of archaeological material by outsourcing to a commercial storage company. While outsourcing sounds a bit radical for traditional museums, the Council’s solution is not so different from many museums’ off-site storage spaces. The key is, as Quinton said, to have a very good catalogue so that you can pinpoint and retrieve individual items without opening boxes.

Repacking workshopSandra Freshney (Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences) told us how to approach piles of accumulated paper-based documents. She provided resource contacts for professional advice, funding, training, and record management. Her practical tips included ways to minimize physical damage to documents as well as a list of packaging materials for document storage.

Presentations shifted from archives to dealing with the museum building when it is an historical object in its own right.  Jenny Mathiasson (University of Cambridge Museums) and Clare Hunt (Southend Museums Service) presented their personal experiences of how historic buildings work as display spaces. They showed how, through careful visual arrangement and sensitive placement of information, it is possible to engage visitors whilst preserving the identity and fabric of the building.

Chris Knapp (Imperial War Museum Duxford) touched on the ethical issues of conservation and curation of huge working objects, such as aeroplanes. There is no simple answer to decide what stage of an object’s history should be restored, and just how much restoration will be needed or acceptable.

The afternoon session was all about how to deal with museum objects that contain hazardous materials – from poisons to explosives!20150121_123921_resized

Laura Ratcliffe (freelance conservator) gave the wise advice ‘Don’t Panic’! A hazards survey is a useful tool for getting to know your collections and planning further steps. As all the afternoon speakers emphasized, the ultimate concern has to be museum workers’ and visitors’ health and safety.

Larry Carr (Science Museums Group) discussed how to maintain a collection of hazardous chemicals that have historical significance. His talk included an impressive video of the controlled burn of a dangerous chemical by experts, whilst museum staff filmed from a safe distance!

Derek Brain presented case studies showing how arsenic and asbestos, two of the most common hazardous chemicals in museum collections, are managed by Birmingham Museums Trust. Martin Adlem (independent health and safety adviser) summarized some of the legal and operational requirements for dealing with hazardous collections and the importance of proper risk assessment.

The conference closed with a Q&A session with the panel of hazards experts – an opportunity to discuss common concerns and seek advice and reassurance. The conference provided not just an occasion to learn new things, but also lots of networking among the museums.

I appreciated all the speakers who shared their knowledge and expertise through their personal experiences. I particularly enjoyed the drop-in workshop sessions held by the morning speakers where I could ask questions in a relaxed atmosphere and get some practice by taking Sandra’s ’15 Minute Archive Repacking Challenge!’.

It was clear to me that every attendee aspired to raise the quality of collections care with their colleagues within each museum and through the resources provided by the SHARE network and University of Cambridge Museums. I found it very inspiring, and I look forward to the 2nd Collections Care conference next year!

Ellie Ohara Anderson, Conservation Intern of Antiquities, University of Cambridge Museums

Announcing the 2015 SHARE Volunteer Awards

PrintWe are pleased to announce that the SHARE Volunteer Awards are now open for nominations.

The SHARE Volunteer Awards for Museums in the East are a collaboration between SHARE Museums East, IWM Duxford and the University Museums Cambridge.

Most of the museums in the SHARE region could not open to the public without the support of volunteers and we feel it is time to recognise this massive contribution across our region. Volunteers play a major role in caring for and interpreting our heritage and culture, ensuring that it is accessible to all.

The Awards will recognise the immense input volunteers make to the East’s museums, large and small.

These Awards are an ideal chance to highlight how important volunteers are to museums, showcase the range of roles volunteers undertake, and show the diversity of the people who offer their time as volunteers.  In addition, through these awards, SHARE will highlight best practice in both volunteering and volunteer management.

The Awards are funded by Arts Council England through their Museum Development programme, managed in the region by SHARE Museums East.

The Awards will be presented at an informal ceremony on Thursday 4th June 2015 at a central venue.

Visit the Volunteer Awards page for full details and to nominate a volunteer.

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