Tag Archive | Volunteer

Volunteer of the Year winner

To celebrate National Volunteers Week we asked our staff to nominate volunteers who they felt had gone above and beyond in their roles. The difficulty for everyone was selecting just one person to nominate as we have so many wonderful people giving their time as volunteers!

So here to announce the winner is Deputy Director Simon Cane….

Curatorial Team Volunteer

I’m Zoe and I volunteer with the curatorial team at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I’ve recently graduated with my MA in museum studies, and I’m using my annual leave to volunteer once a week at BMAG (I otherwise work in an academic library). The museums sector is so incredibly competitive so I’m focussed on doing all I can to ensure I become a curator one day… and that means volunteering!

Zoe Harris, volunteer with the curatorial team

Zoe Harris, volunteer with the curatorial team

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) was the obvious choice when I was looking to volunteer. I’d previously worked as a Visitor Services Assistant at Aston Hall and as an intern with the exhibitions team at BMAG, and had loved every second of it. The curatorial team in particular are extremely experienced and incredibly supportive. They have so much knowledge and expertise between them, and they always have time to share what they know. It’s a pleasure to work with them.

Since starting my volunteering in March, I’ve been researching and blogging about the museums’ Ancient Near East collection. I was lucky enough to assist with the Near East Gallery install whilst interning in the summer last year, so it’s been good fun to learn more about the objects I got to handle back then, and to share what I’ve learned by blogging. Back in March Adam (Curator of World Cultures) and I installed a selection of ornately carved Nimrud ivories in the gallery. They are some of the oldest objects in BMAG’s collection and are even more amazing because they may have been cleaned by famous murder mystery writer Agatha Christie. She was in Iraq helping out at the archaeological dig that uncovered them back in the 60’s.

I’ve also been helping to digitise images of the ethnography collection to add to the museum’s collections management system, so that we have a visual record of what’s what in the collection. Images of cannibal forks and Fijian ancestor figures – complete with detachable grass skirts – are amongst my highlights so far. Helping out with this project has been a really valuable experience as it’s given me the opportunity to learn how to use professional scanning equipment and software in a museum context, and to get to grips with collections management systems. So many curatorial and collections based jobs are asking for these skills, so I’m really pleased I’ve had the opportunity to do this.

Fijian Ancestor Figure

One of Zoe’s highlights from the collection – the Fijian Ancestor Figure

I hope to continue to volunteer with the curatorial team into the summer, until I run out of annual leave. The team at BMAG try to tailor my volunteering projects to suit me, so that I can build up my skills and gain experience in things I want to do, which is brilliant. Hopefully they’ll have some exciting projects lined up for me over the summer!

Zoe Harris,
Curatorial Team Volunteer

For more information about volunteering or to be added to our volunteer list please visit: bmag.org.uk/support-us/volunteer

Volunteer Week Celebration

I have a true penchant for our magnificent city of Birmingham. Even after travelling the world and experiencing the splendour of the South Pacific, Europe and Caribbean I still found my true heart was back in Brum.

Birmingham has so many wonders to be experienced, from our diverse cultural quarters, our proud industrial legacy, our deeply engraved historical heritage, our numerous parklands, our copious canal system, our vibrant social and culinary scene and of course our beloved and cherished museums and art galleries.

I am not the only one with a love for Birmingham though. There are a dedicated group of individuals who unite in their passion for Birmingham and they give up their precious time and resources to volunteer for the various sites of Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT). This band of devoted and fervent volunteers create memorable moments for visitors at BMT sites and they instil a new pride in the city of Birmingham. These volunteers do this selflessly out of enthusiasm and desire for the legacy and future of Birmingham; they ask for nothing in return but the satisfaction that they are making a true difference to the city’s prospects, success and its heritage.

So when Alex Nicholson-Evans (Volunteer Development Officer at Birmingham Museums) decided to formally recognise all the volunteers of Birmingham Museums during National Volunteer Week and celebrate their contribution, it was a real honour.

Some of the Birmingham Museum Trust volunteers

Some of the Birmingham Museum Trust volunteers

We were truly treated and indulged to a full tour of Aston Hall, even areas not visited by the public, by Barbara Nomikos (Property Supervisor at Aston Hall) whose knowledge and enthusiasm for the house and resident families was sincerely inspirational, compelling and exhaustive. The indulgence continued with a magnificent picnic washed down with lashings of Pimms! Alas, the event had been planned as a picnic on the lawn but the UK weather had other plans and an onslaught of good old British rain, saw us camped out above the newly renovated stable block. However the weather could not dampen out valiant volunteering spirits and a fabulous time was had by all. To round of such a spectacular day we were subjected to, sorry enjoyed, an amusing and entertaining quiz! All in all a wonderfully memorable and very appreciated day.

Volunteers taking part in the quiz

Volunteers taking part in the quiz

So I would like to thank Alex, Rachel, Barbara, the team at Aston Hall and all the volunteers who attended in making us all feel so valued and appreciated. Although we volunteer out of love and passion, this kind of recognition is greatly respected and continues to fire our hunger and desire for volunteering.

Thanks to the dedication of people like Alex who make us all feel special and appreciated, we will keep on standing side by side and continue our volunteer work, ensuring we uphold and endorse Birmingham as the truly magnificent city it is.

The volunteer 'picnic' at Aston Hall

The volunteer ‘picnic’ at Aston Hall

Phil Mellanby,
Volunteer

For more information about volunteering or to be added to our volunteer list visit: bmag.org.uk/support-us/volunteer

Archaeological Finds Volunteers

Today’s blog post comes from the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). For those of you who may not know, the Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme for archaeological objects found by members of the public. The scheme encourages finders to record these discoveries with their local Finds Liaison Officer, who will then record the objects onto the national database for researchers to study and the public to view. As a general rule, items over 300 years old are recorded but if an item is of significant interest and should be recorded, then it will be.

We have 3 volunteers giving their time at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to support the team in photographing and recording new finds. The volunteers work with Teresa, our Finds Liaison Officer who is based here at Birmingham Museum. Teresa writes:

“Volunteers are incredibly useful for us, and all the other Finds Liaison Officers based around the country, as they help us manage our large workloads. Tasks that our volunteers have undertaken include: photographing archaeological finds; photo-editing; identification and recording of archaeological finds of all kinds; illustration of archaeological finds and research into different artefacts and distributions”.

One of the volunteer at work

One of the volunteers at work

Riccardo, one of the volunteers, writes:

“I come from Italy and I started volunteering with the Portable Antiquities Scheme in March 2014. During this period I worked on different finds taking photographs and setting them for the database. Last week I started to insert into the database some objects which I had worked on, many of which were Roman coins. I studied Archaeology in Italy with a particular interest in the Western Roman Provinces and it is fantastic for me to have the possibility to handle and study Roman materials from Britain. Apart from that, I am finding it very interesting discovering a world of archaeological materials which I hadn’t dealt with before such as those of Medieval and Post-Medieval period. I took advantage of this to learn more about the English History.  Joining the PAS volunteering team, I am experiencing the policy on the metal detectorists’ activity in England and Wales, and how it is useful in providing the registration of the finds.

I am definitely learning more about using editing software in order to manipulate the pictures of the objects and most of all I am acquiring the analytical method of identifying and cataloguing them.

I am really enjoying this experience in a good environment with experienced and helpful people.”

Riccardo, one of the volunteers, at work

Riccardo, one of the volunteers, at work

We aren’t recruiting for more volunteers within PAS at the moment but if you’d like to be added to our volunteer interest list just email alex.nicholson-evans@birminghammuseums.org.uk and we’ll let you know as and when we launch new roles.

Alex Nicholson-Evans,Volunteer Development Officer,
Teresa Gilmore, Finds Lisiaon Office,
Riccardo Caravello, Archaeological Finds Recording Assistants

Volunteering at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Art is something I have always had an immense amount of interest in; from an early age I was reading about artists, visiting galleries and getting involved in every art class I could find. Pursuing courses in art at school, I became more interested in looking at other’s art works rather than creating my own, and thinking about the historical, biographical and social contexts of works. When the time came for me to leave school I stumbled on information about courses of History of Art. This seemed perfect for me, so I decided to take the plunge. Once I had finished my course I moved back to Birmingham and for the first time was at a loss for what to do with my future. I greatly missed the challenge of academic study, and spent a while thinking about my future and what I wanted to achieve. I knew it would have to be something art based, but I wasn’t sure what job it was that I wanted exactly, or even how to embark upon a career in which I had no practical experience. After many unsuccessful job applications, I decided the best course of action was to go back to what I knew I enjoyed the most: visiting art galleries. It was then I saw the vacancy for volunteer positions at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and I sent an application without any real hope that I would be accepted due to my lack of experience. However, I couldn’t believe my luck when I was told I had been successful!

Kendall enjoying a visit to an exhibition

Kendall enjoying a visit to an exhibition

Volunteering has become an essential part of my weekly routine. Being at the gallery twice a week has renewed my interest and passion in art; spending time talking to the public and answering their questions about pieces in the collection pushes me to constantly expand my knowledge. Many questions and opinions that arise in general conversation are things I had not considered myself, and I love being educated by others who are as enthusiastic about the works in the gallery as I am. Volunteering in a gallery like the Staffordshire Hoard often draws in people with specialist knowledge, and it is so inspiring and reassuring to see the passion and sense of pride that local people feel for their art gallery. I really try to pass on any small amount of knowledge I may have so that others might find the same appreciation for the art as I do.

Recently I spent an afternoon at an object handling session with Ancient Egyptian objects. It was a fantastic experience for me to engage with families, and in particular children, in one of my areas of great interest. Using the objects to interact with the public was a really rewarding experience for me, as it helped to draw people in for conversations. The opportunity for us to touch actual artefacts was a real treat, and it really helped to create a strong connection and understanding of the art, especially for children. It was so gratifying to see people really understanding the objects on show, not only on a visual level but by physically exploring the objects to reaffirm their understanding of them, for example, being able to examine a kohl pot with remnants of makeup in it expanded understanding of the object on a deeper level than being told of its use by display information.

Every day volunteering at the gallery is enjoyable, spending time around such beautiful and amazing works of art has led me to develop a deep appreciation for all the works, and it is a real pleasure to speak to all the staff and hear their own experiences of working in the gallery. The building itself is a work of art, and a pleasure to spend time in. I hope to volunteer until a more permanent career path becomes more obvious to me; until then I will continue to enthusiastically drag my friends and family, such as my sister pictured below, to the gallery to experience what amazing things Birmingham is lucky enough to be home to.

Kendall's sister at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Kendall’s sister at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

For more information about volunteering at Birmingham Museums visit: bmag.org.uk/support-us/volunteer

By Kendall Russell,
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery Volunteer

 

International Women’s Day: Birmingham Women who inspired change

Saturday the 8th March is International Women’s Day.

iwd_long

‘International Women’s Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.’

In this blog we wanted to highlight the stories of some of the Birmingham women featured in the history galleries who have inspired change.

Ann Fuller

Portrait of Ann Fuller, 1786

Portrait of Ann Fuller, 1786

This rare portrait of an18th century businesswoman depicts Ann Fuller who was a pawnbroker in Digbeth during the late 18th century.  Ann took over her father’s business at 53 Digbeth shortly after this portrait was painted.

We know very little about Ann other than she was one of a small number of businesswomen in Birmingham at the time.  Research for the history galleries revealed other women including Catherine Sawyer who ran the Boarding School in The Square, and Mary Lloyd who was the owner of the Hen & Chicken’s Hotel.

You will find Ann’s portrait in the Strangers Guide to 18th Century Birmingham (1700-1830).

Nellie Hall

Nellie Hall’s hunger strike medal, 1913.

Nellie Hall’s hunger strike medal, 1913.

Nellie Hall was a suffragette who lived in Edgbaston.  She became an active campaigner as a teenager, and suffered imprisonment in Winson Green prison in Birmingham.  Later she was sent to prison again in London, went on hunger strike and endured forced feeding.  Birmingham had a very strong suffragette movement, which involved women from prominent local families including the Cadburys and the Rylands.  The equality for which these women risked their freedom, and sometimes their lives, was a long time in coming.  Women over 30 gained the vote in 1918, but full voting equality with men was not granted until 1928.

Nellie Hall wrote to her father from prison in 1914:  ‘No free spirit has ever been wrecked by a mean spirited oppression yet.  And mine won’t be either.’

You will find Nellie’s hunger strike medal in Forward (1830-1909)

Mary Newill

 Sleep after Toile 2

 Sleep after Toile 1Stained glass panel in two parts entitled ‘Sleep after Toile’ by Mary Newill, c.1905.

Mary Newill studied at the Birmingham School of Art.  In the late 19th century the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement was reviving hand crafts, in a reaction against mass production.  The Birmingham School of Art encouraged students to try new techniques, and pioneered art education for women.  Female students were encouraged to work with metal, wood and stained glass as well as textiles and painting.  Mary Newill was one of the women who forged ahead in techniques traditionally practised by men.  Newill also worked as an illustrator and embroiderer, and became a teacher at the School of Art.

You can see Mary Newill’s stained glass panel in Forward (1830-1909)

Lilly Duckham OBE

Lilly Duckham in her Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps uniform c. 1917.

Lilly Duckham in her Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps uniform c. 1917.

Lilly was born in Birmingham on the 14 October 1892.  She left school aged 14 and went into domestic service.  In 1917 she enlisted with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps aged 25.  Lilly was one of 10 women sent to the Western Front to be in charge of the Officer’s catering.  Many disapproved of women working on the Western Front.  In this extract from an interview with Lilly in 1981 she explained why she believed it was important for her, and other women to serve alongside men.

‘When I read of the quantity of boys that were being killed and that they, they wanted more men they wanted more people out there and they were going to try and experiment with girls you see I put my name through […] They asked if I wanted to stay at home or go abroad, well I very much wanted to go abroad there were only about five of us the rest were wanted to stay in England you know but I wanted to get out […] to do what I could […] I felt that was where the help was wanted was needed and that’s why I thought that’s where we should be and I mean the hardships and everything it was no more I felt it was no more for us than it was for the boys’.

Lilly was demobbed 6 months after the end of the war.  Shortly after returning to Birmingham she was awarded an OBE for her war services.

You can listen to extracts from Lilly’s interview as well as other Birmingham women’s first world war stories in An Expanding City (1909-1945) in the Birmingham at War display

Shahin Ashraf

Shahin Ashraf,  fundraiser for Islamic Relief.

Shahin Ashraf, fundraiser for Islamic Relief.

Shahin Ashraf was born in Birmingham in 1971.  She is a fundraiser for Islamic Relief, an international aid organisation which began in Birmingham in 1984.

Shahin began volunteering for Islamic relief in 1989 after the Kashmir earthquake.  In this extract from her interview for the history galleries she recalls what it was like as a volunteer.

‘We were basically going around the country collecting clothes in a big truck, there was a group of us and we were the only women that could drive at that time.  [We then delivered] them back to the warehouse and […] helping […] sorting out clothes, making sure the clothes […] were okay for the country that they were going to. I mean a lot of people gave summer clothes and it was winter there so […] we couldn’t take those clothes’

Islamic Relief [was] in its infancy and then what happened was that […] Central News in Birmingham […] picked it up and suddenly there was an influx of clothes and the warehouse was full to the brim but they had […] hardly any volunteers

So this was the call for volunteers and I was one of the very few volunteers.  In those days there was no texts, there no sms, there was no email, it was just word of mouth and Doctor Hany [the founder of Islamic Relief] had gone to the different colleges within Birmingham and he said I really need your help so if you could come to the warehouse […] and suddenly there was about 4-500 volunteers’.

You can listen to extracts from Shahin’s interview in Your Birmingham (1945-today)

Jo-Ann Curtis and Henrietta Lockhart, Curators – History

Stories from the Mill

A lovely blog about volunteer millers at Sarehole Mill.

Sarehole Mill will open again for the season on Saturday 12 April 2014. Please see http://www.bmag.org.uk/sarehole-mill for more details.

The Iron Room

I used to think I had the best job in the world, education & outreach officer at Birmingham Archives & Heritage; a sublime mix of delving into the past through archival documents and photos and working with young people and community groups to document their lives and our changing city.

IMAG0582

Then in January I answered the call for volunteer millers at Sarehole Mill.  Suddenly every waking thought was about millstones and wheel revolutions, about chutes, tuns, hoppers and damsels and I found myself in a new world of the old.  Now of course it all makes sense; a seamless path from researching and recording stories about Birmingham’s history to real life hands on experience.

I am part of a team of volunteers learning how to operate the mill following it’s major  £450,000 restoration and refurbishment project.  Sarehole Mill is one of only two surviving working watermills in Birmingham (…

View original post 311 more words