It seems a while since I last updated you on what I’ve been up to at the medical museums, but a lot has happened! It has been a whirl wind of events and event marketing. It doesn’t stop! As I am coming to the end of my traineeship, the last couple of months are about tidying up and consolidating my databases, archiving my promotional material and making sure that what I have achieved in my roles can be used for the future. I want to leave a good legacy of my time here. This is pretty much what I am doing at both sites, but let me update you on what’s been happening prior to this…
Months of planning and preperation all came to a head on the 17th and 19th of April with my two part Black Death events. We kicked things off with the Grim Reaper’s European Tour: The Black Death on the evening of the 17th with a series of adult talks. The event was well attended and my guest speakers were entertaining and informative. Chris Upton from Newman University was our first speaker and gave us all an account of the impact the Black Death made in the Midlands area. Kevin Goodman then told us about the plague suits and how they had only made an appearance in the 17th century outbreak but the iconic image of the mask is what we all identify plague with. I wrapped things up with a talk on the archaeology of the Black Death and what information it can give us. Apart from presentations as university, this was something I hadn’t really done in a while and I was incredibly nervous, but once the event was underway, I was able to relax somewhat and enjoy it.
The next event was Black Boils and Reaping Rats. In the weeks leading up to the event, I was making sure I had a Whats on Guide to hand out, had meetings with my volunteers, making plague masks and rats and sourcing a drainpipe amongst other things (the drainpipe will all become clear, keep reading…). I was also rehearsing my dance troupe to make sure our Ring of Rosies dance was up to date and polished. The initial aim of this event was to engage the local community and get them involve with the museum in a fun and informative way. To do this, I wanted to work with local school children and at the start of the year, we were working with a couple of classes at a local school. Unfortunatley, half way through our sessions with them, they pulled out and no longer wanted to be apart of it. It was a fairly low point for me as I felt I had failed in someway. It wasn’t easy trying to get schools involved as it was, even though we were offering a free newly developed workshop. But Louise told me that things like this happened all the time and not to take it personally. So with renewed vigor, we delivered a very succesful and fun family event, complete with a Splat the Rat (remember the drainpipe), rat trails through the museum, make up artist painting realistic boils on people, dance performances and a medieval quest! With the two events combined, over 100 people attended.
Much was learnt from this. It gave me the experience of organising people and activities, I managed a small team of volunteers, I organised and executed promotion of the event, I made sure that on our limited budget, we were able to deliver well run and fun events. It gave me such a confidence boost as well, as that is something that I struggle with on a day to day basis. At times it was a little stressful but overall, I really enjoyed it and it has been the highlight of my time here.
So what’s in store for me next? The time has come for me to start looking for my next post. I feel priviledged to have been a part of this scheme as I believe it has given me the skills, the experience and the confidence to go forward and work in a sector I’ve always wanted to be a part of. Working in the heritage sector is not just a job, its a vocation. It’s important for people to get involved, whether you’re a visitor or a heritage professional. We are all responsible for the gaurdianship of our past.