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Volunteers – Working with collections

Helping give access to collections

21115_1Collections Access is a new, exciting strand of volunteering projects working with collections.  These activities help the museum make better use of stored material and make them more available to greater numbers of people.

The Head of Collections and Programming Andrew Mackay tells us a little more about the background to the projects:

“Tullie House has outstanding collections – we know because we are regularly told by this by external experts. There is very little point in having such important collections if we do not share them, so Tullie House has made a commitment to making the collections more accessible and we are delighted that we are able to work together to develop a range of collections based projects with a dedicated team of volunteers.

The ideal arrangement sees projects being developed that benefit both the museum and our volunteers. The volunteer provides time, enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment in exchange for hopefully developing their own skills and understanding by working closely on the collections with specialist museum staff. The collections become more accessible (and therefore more usable) by being catalogued, photographed, better stored and researched.

An ongoing project is undertaking an inventory of all of the archaeology stored at Shaddon Mill. This essential work allows the museum to better understand what it has in store (which in turn can help with exhibitions, research and engagement activities) and it also provides key information which will help assess future storage requirements.

We are therefore very grateful to the volunteer workforce for being so committed to helping make our collections more accessible. Without this invaluable help the level of engagement activity we can deliver by using the collections at Tullie would be so much harder to achieve.” 

191015 (5)Over the last few months two further projects have begun.  The Costume Collections Audit is a project to condition check and ensure correct data for every single item in the costume store.  The team has also been involved in preparing the costume for the Pages From History exhibition opening on 14 November which we’re all excited to be sharing with visitors.

Secondly, the First World War project is bringing together documentation, images and research for the major Carlisle at War exhibition opening in autumn 2016.  We’ve already found some telling and often poignant images of many different people involved in the war effort, not just service personnel.  These images give me (and hopefully other non-specialists too) a different and locally-focused perspective on this tumultuous period of history.

Kirsty, a volunteer on both projects says:

“It’s given me a real insight in the work behind the scenes of the museum that you don’t get as a visitor.  It’s great experience too for helping me get a job in museums after my Masters degree.”

kirsty31115 (2)Not only is Kirsty benefiting from this experience but she is helping Tullie maintain the collections for future generations.

If you’ve been inspired and we’d be delighted to welcome you to the team .  If would like to get more involved with these projects or volunteering then please visit the volunteering page.  Here you can sign up to our mailing list that lets you know about all projects first, more information about our existing projects and how to join the team.  We’d love to welcome you.


Claire, Volunteer Co-ordinator


Job well done!

Enjoying the special view of the exhibition.

Guest blogger Mary, Project Co-ordinator of Treasures of Cumbria, tells us about the latest exciting milestone from her Cumbria-wide projects.

On Friday 5 December volunteers travelled from as far as Barrow-in-Furness for a special view of the One day in Cumbria exhibition at Tullie House.
After enjoying scones, cake, tea and coffee, the volunteer researchers were thanked by Director Hilary Wade for the special contribution they made to the project. She acknowledged that without their skill and enthusiasm, the exhibition would not have been possible. Hilary also thanked Cumbria County Council archives and libraries and partner museums, Lakeland Arts, the Dock Museum, Penrith and Eden Museum, Beacon Museum and the Haig Pit Mining Museum for their support.
The group made their way up to the exhibition and admired the timeline and items from the collection. They filled out their own updates of what they’d done on 5 December 2014 for inclusion on the contemporary timeline.
Both the 1914 and 2014 timelines are now on show.
Project coordinators Mary Ann Lancaster and Stuart Appley said a few words in the exhibition, sharing what an enjoyable experience it had been to work with such talented participants.
There was also an opportunity to attend a first screening in the Lecture Theatre of Your Country Needs You, a film created for the project by Comely Media. This film responds to research into life in 1914, and follows one man in Dalton-in-Furness as he struggles to decide whether to enlist.
The event was a lot of fun, with many people enquiring when we’ll be getting started on A day in 1915!
There are only 4 days remaining of the exhibition, which now features both the 1914 and 2014 timelines. The project will be published online at this week.

One Day in Cumbria is ready to go

Guest blogger Helen tells you about this exciting take on the space.  If you keep reading to the bottom, there’s a way we can all get involved and make a bit of history:

One Day in Cumbria is the latest temporary exhibition to appear in the Shed at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle.  Installation started earlier this week, where project co-ordinator Mary Ferguson unpacked the new panels and timeline banner, and organised the space ready for the new displays.  

The One Day in Cumbria project marks the Centenary of the First World War.  It has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War: then and now programme, and centres on research into daily life and industry in 1914.   People around Cumbria are invited to help make history on 5 December this year by sharing their updates about life on the same day in 2014, and the final results will be shown on an interactive timeline, at comparing and highlighting changes in the county 100 years apart.

The current exhibition at Tullie House forms just part of the One Day in Cumbria project, by displaying the research that the volunteers have been working on since October.  The Shed gallery space also provides a place for visitors to ask questions, find out more and to take part too.    
The One Day in Cumbria volunteer researchers have visited museums, libraries and archives across the county and discovered a wealth of information about life in the area that is now Cumbria.  From tales of fundraising in local schools to stories of Belgian refugees fleeing a devastated homeland to settle in temporary homes, the project highlights the way that local people supported the war effort, each other and those most in need in the early days of the war.
The First World War broke out in August 1914. By December that year, people at home were beginning to feel the effects of the war. But much of life continued as normal. No-one could predict, at this time, how long the war would last and how many lives it would claim.
Do we prepare for and celebrate Christmas in the same ways now as people did then? Is sport just as important or does it play an even bigger part in out lives? Do we still know our neighbours the way people did 100 years ago?  We’d like you to get involved in this exciting experiment.  Submit your story through the website or by using the #onedayincumbria hashtag on Facebook or Twitter.
The Exhibition runs from 25 November to 13 December 2014

On 11 December, the Consortium will publish two 24-hour timelines of life in Cumbria. One will chart life on 5 December 1914 and the other the same day, 100 years later. Help make history.

Up and running

It’s been an eventful week in THe Shed.

After the slight chaos of Half Term where the volume of people meant lots of people saw and enjoyed the What’s in Store space, it also meant that wolf received way more strokes than it should have (the museums constant battle – preservation versus access) we were in need of the slightly calmer events of this week.  It started last Thursday evening where the space played host to its first evening event, a very well attended opening for the Remembrance 100 project, where over 80 pupils, their parents and teachers from Trinity School came along.  I’ve shared a few of the photos below.

Following on from this there was a lovely piece in the Evening News and Star on Tuesday 11th.

Also this week the vote for the Roman object closed.  The winner will be featured in next summer’s show Carlisle in 10 Objects and we are collating the results as we speak – the name of the winning object will appear here next week.

As the voting ended it was replaced by a brand new photography exhibition ‘I remember when…’ This new show in the Work in Progress space is part of the Raw Talent series.  It’s presenting a series of works by young people responding to a brief by The Image Unit for the Carlisle Photography Festival.  Their challenge was to take a single photograph with their mobile phone that finished the question ‘I remember when…’  The results are remarkable.  The festival may have finished but you can see these works on show until 30 November.

Remembrance 100 opens in THe Shed

The first of our series of seven exhibitions opens in THe Shed tomorrow.  The co-curator of Remembrance 100 Mark Gibbs is our guest blogger today who shares his expereince of creating an exhibit from such thought-provoking subject matter.

Remembrance 100   6 Nov- 23 Nov
A big part of my job is to build connections between schools and Tullie House, so I’m delighted with how Remembrance 100 has turned out. It’s a show in Tullie’s new experimental Shed space, where we try to do displays differently. The project is a partnership between the Museum and Trinity School in Carlisle. It combines student artwork, powerful artefacts, a web based archive and an interactive peace wall.  Continuing the theme of collaboration, I’ve enjoyed working closely with the Curator of Social History Edwin Rutherford.
The background to the show comes from Tullie’s interest in marking the 100th anniversary of the War’s outbreak, and the research two Trinity teachers carried out.  Trinity’s Head of History, Linda Hodgson and maths teacher Sarah Lee-Adamson researched the service history of the school’s old boys who were killed in the First World War. Through this they found three names not recorded on the school’s memorial plaque, and so these were added in a dedication service led by the Bishop of Carlisle this October. Their research is recorded in Trinity’s Memorial website, which visitors can access in the show or at home. The school’s year 9 (13-14 year olds) were then asked to design an image to use for the invitations to the event.  

Eloise helping out

Remembrance 100 combines this display of 100 of these student artworks with artefacts from our collections, including a set of letters from Lance Corporal Joseph Hall, who was killed in action at Arras in 1917. We have his last letter home, family photograph and death notification telegram.  This is powerful stuff which made a big impact on the group of eight Trinity students who came over to design the labels and information boards: ‘Our first impressions were indescribable’ said one student pair.  That’s where the innovation comes in.  One group of students designed most of the text in the show and a second group of six students came over to install the show – Museum Assistant Eloise Stott helped us to put the display up making sure everything was level – no mean feat with 100 small artworks!

So Remembrance 100 is a jointly curated show, with student artworks, powerful stories,
and the Memorial website providing a digital element. There’s also an interactive part; a peace wall where visitors are encouraged to think how we can all promote peace, and post that thought on the wall. Suggesting perhaps that Remembrance can be active, and continuing the interest that Tullie has already shown in conflict resolution with the Living Wall display, in the Roman Frontier Gallery (this reminds viewers that border walls are still very much part of our world). It also connects with the debate on the ethics of war themed toys in our current Wargames show.
A short documentary film will provide a permanent record of the show.
Filmaker Paddy preparing for the big shot

Mark Gibbs
Secondary and post 16 Learning Officer

Tullie House
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