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Isobel’s week behind the scenes at World Museum

20 July 2009 by Sam

Here’s a special report from Isobel, who spent last week helping out behind the scenes at World Museum Liverpool for her work experience placement.


young girl holding up a museum exhibit on a stand

“When asked to choose a work experience placement, the traditional primary school or office jobs didn’t really appeal to me. So instead I decided to work in the World Museum. My mum works there, but I didn’t really have a clue what she actually does. Maybe the readers of this are more knowledgeable than I am, but ‘curator of numismatics’ doesn’t mean much to me! I wanted to find out what museum work entails, as I, like a lot of people, didn’t really know what goes on behind that ‘no entry’ door.

My first day was with Emma, head of Ethnology, in the museum stores. Along with Chrissy, I helped measure, handle and photograph Buddha figurines. I learnt so much about different types of Buddhas and symbolism in Buddhist figurines and felt so lucky to pick up and hold things that are usually behind a glass case! It was so amazing to think about the culture and history surrounding each Buddha.

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be shown the zoology stores by Tony, including vast cabinets of insects, spirit stores full of interesting samples, and stuffed animals from old displays.  I was at the National Conservation Centre on Tuesday as well, watching an interactive activity for the Weston Discovery Centre being made. In the afternoon I was with my mum looking at a new acquisition, a set of bravery medals being awarded to a seaman who gave himself up to the Japanese during World War II to save his ship. The human story behind those medals was really interesting, and more valuable to me than the solid gold coin I had been handling minutes before!

Wednesday was back at the museum stores, putting together Egyptian pots. This is a challenge, but very rewarding when you find two pieces that fit together. I can describe it as the most difficult and oldest jigsaw I have ever attempted! I also held a pot that was seven thousand years old and still had the potter’s fingerprints on it. Among the Egyptian stores I also saw a mummified cat’s head, which looked disturbingly like my pet, Boots.

My favourite day had to be Thursday, spent at the Clore Natural History Centre. I’m interested in Biology and it was great to spark the kids’ interests in something and see how excited they got. Additionally I had spent all my other days behind the scenes, so it was a nice change to be front of house. Although I didn’t have the knowledge to answer all of the children’s questions, I learnt through listening to the demonstrator’s answers, and, like what I’ve been told by many staff at World Museum Liverpool, working here means you are constantly learning!

Finally, my last day, Friday, was spent in the museum stores working with Roman coins. I’ve learnt so much this week, and the variety of the work I’ve done has been wonderful. I enjoyed my time there so much I am considering doing some volunteer work at the museum!”


If, like Isobel, you are interested in a career in the museums and would like to volunteer to get more experience you can find out more on the Volunteering pages on our website.

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