Many of my friends looked at me in confusion as I explained to them that I would be undertaking a placement for twenty days at the National Football Museum. I will be the first to admit that I am not a massive football fan, I don’t follow a team and I don’t know the offside rule (am I allowed to say that?) However, after visiting the museum a number of times and reading the placement brief, I jumped at the chance to work there.
Why? The museum is the world’s largest collection of football memorabilia. It houses over 140,000 objects across two sites, their storage facility being in Deepdale, Preston. What I love about the museum is that it isn’t just a museum for hard-core football fans – it really knows how to cater to a wider audience and get people interested in the sport. It doesn’t rely on enthusiasm for the sport itself to get people interested in the galleries, although any fan would be over the moon with their collection. The museum goes above and beyond to tell the story of the sport using a number of themes, whether that be the First World War, women’s football or working class history.
The placement itself was an opportunity to get hands on with a new collection. The museum had recently purchased the world’s largest collection of women’s football memorabilia and were in the process of cataloguing, researching and displaying it within the galleries. My role as a collections and exhibitions assistant varied daily, from researching the items, to helping the learning and engagement team, to social media work to exploring themes to be used for display. It gave me a wealth of practical knowledge across departments – which has been invaluable as an Art Gallery & Museum student looking to break through into paid work.
The staff there were incredibly experienced and luckily didn’t mind me asking them whatever question popped into my head regarding collections and exhibitions practice – as well as about the everyday administrative duties behind the scenes. I was also allowed a lot of freedom regarding the roles I would be doing, giving me the choice to try out a lot of different things. Being there over a twenty week period was also a good amount of time to settle in to the organization and get to know the team; something I found to be really valuable in establishing important relationships within the museum which has since led to further volunteering with them.
The women’s football exhibition will be opening at the museum opens in early 2018, date yet to be confirmed.