I am a student currently undertaking my MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies. My work placement was situated at Touchstones Rochdale’s resource centre. I have been working on their extensive costume collection. Whilst I have a background in archaeology, I have always enjoyed handling and understanding all types of objects. I chose this placement because I not only was able to gain a vast experience in documentation procedures, collections management databases and research, but most importantly, I had the opportunity to create interpretation for a temporary display and on the web for the costume.
The costume collection has enabled me to handle delicate material, which has further enabled my experience and knowledge in the handling of objects. The main aim of working with the costume collection was to make it more accessible to anyone. I unpacked the costumes, condition checked all objects within the boxes, carefully mounted them on mannequins, and extensively photographed the pieces. After repacking the costume with acid free tissue paper, I updated the collection record, or in most cases created a new one, on the collections management database; Ke EMu. All of this was done to SPECTRUM standards. For the majority of the objects, I carried out in-depth research into their history and which objects they related to within the current collection in order to be able to tell the stories of as many pieces of costume as possible. The role also allowed me to be able to create pieces of interpretation to be used on the numerous outlets of social media that Touchstones uses.
I also created a series of interpretation specifically for use on Touchstones’ social media pages in order to allow greater access to the costume collection. Whilst this was enjoyable, it seems that it was not highly successful! Only amassing 2 retweets and a couple of ‘favourites’, creating access to the costume collections via social media did not pan out as I would have expected. Maybe I should have had a greater presence on twitter throughout my placement in order to create a running audience; who I’m sure would be waiting on my every tweet! The main experience I gained from this placement is that do not be worried to go out of your comfort zone. As stated, my background is in archaeology, so handling costume was a completely new experience to me. Yet this experience has given me vital documentation experience for my career in the museum sector, and can only help me in the future. Touchstones Rochdale was a vibrant and friendly institution to work in and I hope to have continued contact with the people I met whilst there. Their website can be found here http://www.link4life.org/centres/touchstones-rochdale and if anyone would ever like to see any of my interpretation on Twitter, check it out here https://twitter.com/touchstones .