When presented with the options for work placement opportunities I was drawn to the Greater Manchester Police Museum. The Police Museum offered collections management experience and training with the MimsyXG database system – I already had experience in museum collections, utilising the CALM database to work with items of Art, Natural History and Social History. So the chance to examine a unique and interesting collection of police artefacts and to work with a museum database system which was new to me was a challenge I could not turn down.
The Police Museum is a relatively young museum founded in 1981 on the site of an old police station in Central Manchester. Its current mission is to use its collections and resources to educate the public about the historical development of policing in Greater Manchester and also the current roles of the Greater Manchester Police. The Police Museum has two paid members of staff and like many other museums it relies on its volunteers to assist with and run day to day activities such as tours, school visits and the like. Many of these volunteer are retired police officers, with a great many stories to share with visitors (and work placement students as well!).
The Police Museum has only recently adopted a computer database system for its collection and so is still taking inventory of its objects. This will help the museum know what it has and how the collection can best be used. This meant that during my time at the Police Museum I catalogued a wide variety of different objects, including items belonging to ‘Special Constables’ – people who served as police officers during the two world wars, through to a piece of modern police history: the report of Operation CODA – the first murder trial in which the evidence was all digital. The report was donated to the museum in January 2017 by the detectives in charge of the investigation.
As part of my role I also carried out work in the museum store. As in any museum store the space is a true cabinet of curiosity with something interesting on every shelf and in every box. To see the sheer number of objects in any museum store is eye-opening, even in a smaller museum like the Police Museum. To see all the objects really gives you an understanding of how important the work of cataloguing objects is and how useful the database will be to the future outreach, education and exhibition work the Police Museum is planning.