When I first visited World Museum, Liverpool during a fieldtrip last semester, my impression of the museum could be concluded with two words – ‘historic’ and ‘fascinating’. The museum building was impressive and the collections inside were really eye-opening to me. Not until I started my placement here did I realise that the museum in fact bears the scars of the Second World War. The building was seriously bombed out and its collections suffered great damage on the night of 3 May 1941.
I am so glad that I have chosen to work here because it offered me more than I expected. I was based in World Museum, but worked across the departments of National Museums Liverpool (NML). As you can tell from my title, On-line Exhibition Marketing (Student Placement), I worked with both the curatorial team and the marketing team. Basically, my task was to assist Dr. Emma Martin (Senior Curator of Ethnology), my supervisor, with Olivia Mullen (my fellow AGMS student) to create an on-line exhibition Bombed Out! Word Museum and the Blitz, to commemorate what happened on the night of 3 May 1941. That night, the bomb dropped by the German aircraft triggered extensive fire that turned the museum and its collection into charred rubble. The exhibition recounted the stories of which objects fell victim, which survived, which escaped from the devastation and which objects come after the war to help rebuild the museum’s collections. Mining through the museum’s archives, Olivia and I found interesting stories associated with the events. Then my job was to present them in an appealing way to the public by writing blogs, Facebook posts and Tweets. The most unforgettable moment was having an interview with a former museum staff who witnessed the recovery of the museum. Nothing is more striking and vivid than an eye-witness account and therefore I wrote a blog about this interview. The best thing of my job was that I was not the only one who witnessed the behind-the-scenes of the exhibition, but I could also share the preparation process with the public by using social media.
Other than preparing for the marketing materials, I was also able to have a glimpse of how such a large-scale organisation operates. NML offered me basic training, such as how to use Mimsy, a cataloguing programme. Moreover, I sat in the curatorial meeting with the museum’s director and all curators. I felt like I was a permanent staff knowing what was happening in the museum, from the discussion on the progress of the new exhibition to more trivial matters like the maintenance of the museum. Working in the museum is not just locking myself in the office. I got the chance to meet and have conversations with great museum professionals. They were all friendly and eager to teach and help me with the exhibition.
At first, I was so worried about working in such a well-known national museum. With the continuous encouragement and support from Emma, Olivia and other colleagues, we have made the exhibition happen. I would like to give my special thanks to Emma, who shared a lot of her professional knowledge and experience with me. It was my great pleasure to work in NML. It has widened my horizon and such experience will be extremely useful for my careers in the museum sector. I am so proud of what I have achieved there!
You can find our exhibition and my blogs at: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/collections/blitz/