The past four weeks have flown by in a whirl of museums, inductions, meetings, training sessions, emails, recyclables and internet searches; I had absolutely no idea how quickly the time can pass when you are doing something that you actually enjoy!
My role at The Elgar Birthplace Museum is (for now) primarily concerned with organising a range of family events to encourage lots of younger visitors to come and see us! I was fascinated to discover that Elgar travelled up the Amazon river in his later years, sailing on a steamboat to Manaus to visit its beautiful opera house. Little is known about what exactly Elgar did whilst on his adventure, with only the occasional word or line recorded in the notebook he took. We do, however, know from a scrawled exclamatory “crocodile!” that he did encounter at least some of the incredible wildlife inhabiting that part of the world!
Elgar’s unlikely journey transforms him far from the stereotypical patriot to an excited explorer, venturing far beyond the familiar to seek inspiration from nature (something that had encouraged his great fondness for the countryside in Worcestershire). What a wonderful way then, to encourage families to come and explore a lesser known side of one of England’s most familiar composers. I am currently planning a series of day events to run during August that will encourage children to explore the Amazon from the comfort of our museum in Lower Broadheath! Current plan for these events involve: explorer trails, musical instrument making, face-painting and performances by local children’s groups, culminating (fingers crossed) an exciting animal handling day! Throughout these events, we shall be asking ‘What was Elgar’s Amazon Like?’, with a temporary display exploring Elgar’s journey. There is, however, still lots to do!
Aside from these Amazonian adventures (!) I have been putting together two exciting new children’s trails for the museum, each aimed at children of a different age group. Similarly, I am also researching and planning (and trying to find funding for) a new children’s adventure pack. This pack will (I hope) make The Elgar Birthplace Museum more appealing to a younger audience by guiding children around our existing exhibition at their own pace. The packs will feature all sorts of interactive activities and games and may be presented in a rather exciting case… watch this space!
Aside from my work at The Elgar Birthplace Museum, the past week has seen all five of us trainees reunited for a training session at Worcester’s The Hive. This day-long workshop, entitled ‘Handling Difficult Situations with the Public’, confronted us with various difficult situations created by two actors, asking us to think about how they would be best addressed. I particularly enjoyed joining in with diffusing one tricky scenario, in which a disgruntled visitor confronted a member of museum staff!
All-in-all, I feel so very lucky to have been selected for this traineeship; it is wonderful to be working in a museum environment on a day-to-day basis doing something that feels truly worthwhile. The last four weeks have confirmed that this is unequivocally what I want to do.
Elgar Birthplace Museum