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A Summer of Volunteers at the Manx Museum 8 September 2006

Throughout the summer, the Manx Museum in Douglas has provided an opportunity for volunteers to be given an invaluable insight into the job of the museum professional.Manx National Heritage Volunteers

Jude Dicken, Curator of Documentation for Manx National Heritage, said:

“Four university graduates took the opportunity to spend some time preserving and promoting the nation’s historic collections. Sally Gall, Elisa Harrocks, Kristie Jelfs and Griffin Myat Co have, under the close supervision of the Curators at the Museum, enjoyed first-hand, practical experience of how Manx National Heritage cares for the unique and diverse collections which reflect the Island’s history.”

Sally Gall, currently reading English at Oxford University, spent a very active July with Manx National Heritage. She played Viking games at Peel Castle for National Archaeology Day, demonstrated her weaving skills at Cregneash Folk Village and helped document and photograph the very colourful Manx Quilt Collection. Of the latter, Sally’s modern interest in quilting was given an historic dimension by the centuries of stitches on display!

Staying with the Costume and Textile Collections, Kristie Jelfs helped continue work on the Daphne Corlett Costume Collection, comprising of around 250 items of costume worn on the Island from 18th to the 20th century. Equipped with her Museum & Gallery Studies post-graduate qualification from St Andrews University, Kristie composed a detailed description of each item, entering it onto the Manx National Heritage Record Database.

Other volunteers found that the projects not only reflected their existing skills, but helped point them towards a future career. Recent History of Art graduate from St Andrews University, Griffin Myat Co, put his art historical training to the test by cataloguing and re-housing a number of unframed artworks depicting the people and places of the Isle of Man. As Griffin prepares to go to Durham University in October to study Museum & Artefacts Studies, he describes his time at the Museum as ‘giving a much-needed insight of the practical and vocational side of museum work.‘

Similarly pursuing a career in heritage, Elisa Harrocks helped Library staff to arrange over 3,000 photographic glass plates ready for them to be digitally scanned later this year and in time published to the internet. The glass plates depict life in Douglas and Knockaloe Internment Camps during the First World War and as such are of unique, historic importance not only to the history of the Island but internationally.

Elisa said:

“The plates are extremely well-preserved for their age and provide, in their incidental, background detail, a fascinating glimpse into Camp life. The gymnastic display teams were certainly an unexpected find!”

Elisa has now started a one-year work placement in the Public Services Division at Manx National Heritage. All four volunteers deserve special praise and thanks for their work throughout the summer with Manx National Heritage.

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