Mercenary Volunteering: Part One. Taking Control of your Career Development

How to Emerge as a museum professional: a guide

Sometimes you just have to be a little bit cut-throat to get ahead. In the following post, William Tregaskes discusses his experience of being a ‘mercenary volunteer’ – a term which many of us first heard at the Museums Association’s Moving on Up Conference at Cardiff in February 2018.

I have been a mercenary volunteer. The reality of the sector has meant that I wanted to develop faster than I could through conventional volunteering and I wanted to develop skills which just did not fit in my current role at the time. I wanted more control of my volunteering and my personal development. What I found myself doing was being a mercenary volunteer – but what does this term mean?

433px-Il_Condottiere ‘Leader of Mercenaries’ by da Vinci, 1480. In the British Museum.

Mercenary volunteering is something I have come to personal terms with over the last year. It is also a…

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Conservation Station

Sometimes a conservator receives a task that doesn’t require any adhesives or cleaning. This past week I found myself with a task that simply used my hands and mind. I received two heaps of Egyptian beads on strings that were such a tangled mess no one knew what they were. My job was to untangle them and make sure that they not end up in the same situation again.

One of the first things I noticed was that the thread and string that the beads were on was not an original textile. It appeared that when the beads were found they were strung on whatever threading was nearby. This meant I was working with Victorian string that was more sturdy than an Egyptian textile would have been. I slowly set about attempting to determine where the ends were so that I had a starting point and was intrigued to find…

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Unraveling the Past

Gallery

What big teeth you have…

More Than A Dodo

Not many summer placements involve being face to face with a grey wolf. The latest intern getting her hands dirty in the Life Collections Conservation Lab is Kathryn Schronk, from the BSc Conservation of Objects in Museums at Cardiff University. Here she tells us a little bit about herself and what she’s been working on during her time at the Museum…

Desiring a bit of a respite from broken pottery and rusty metal, I came to the Museum of Natural History to gain some experience with different objects and materials: namely taxidermy. I mean, why not? The possibility of getting up close and personal with wild animals was tempting, and I wouldn’t get a limb gnawed off or an eye poked out either, as might be the case with live creatures. A win-win situation!

Kathryn airbrushing synthetic hair in the Conservation Lab

Natural history specimens were always off in…

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