May 4, 2020

Moving a Mountain: Volunteers View

In this series of blogs our collections move volunteers will tell you all about their experiences of the ‘Moving a Mountain’ project so far. This week they explain what made them decide to volunteer with us.
Category: 2020
Posted by: Sarah

Since the current lockdown situation has put our collections move on hold, we thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on the project. A large part of our project is our amazing volunteer team, and so who better to tell you all about their experience so far! In this series of blogs, some of our volunteer team will tell you all about why they decided to volunteer, what interesting specimens they’ve seen and what surprises they’ve come across along the way.

This week they answer the question: What made you apply for the role of collections care volunteer at the Sedgwick Museum?

Lily - I was really interested in learning more about what a sample collection of geological specimens looked like and how the collections are treated differently from the archaeological material I’m more used to. I like to challenge myself to try things that are completely new and this looked like a great opportunity to see what the Sedgwick Museum is all about

- I had a stroke in May 2019 which resulted in my retirement from work two years sooner than I previously intended. The effects of the stroke were (are) mainly aphasia, which gives me some difficulties in speaking, in that the right word is sometimes not there and I often trip up. Reading is more difficult, also writing is slower (this for example) as the right word or the sentence construction or spelling can be elusive. Talking is a key part of my ‘treatment’. I have always been a quiet chap, keeping to myself (too much) and so I have had to reinvent myself somewhat, and find things to do.
I came to the (project) open day in September by accident really. My brother was visiting and I needed to come up with a few things to do. If he had not been coming I would probably not have come to the open day. Both of us really enjoyed the tour and when Sarah said that volunteers would be recruited later in the year, it was obvious that I would put my name down.

- I had just finished working as a volunteer with another museum, and was looking for something similar as I have greatly enjoyed working behind the scenes, particularly on activities relating to collections management. It was very fortunate for me that the Sedgwick roles were advertised at exactly that time, as they seemed like a pretty perfect match to what I was looking for.

- I applied for the role of collections care volunteer because I wanted to gain hands on experience with handling and cataloguing museum collections. Furthermore, this volunteering has given me the opportunity to examine the Sedgwick Museum’s fascinating collection of geological and paleontological specimens, which come in all shapes, sizes and even colours.

- I was an undergraduate at Cambridge in the 1970s and Colin Forbes was one of the geology lecturers. Somewhere I have a picture of him demolishing an old piano with a sledgehammer at one of our garden parties. As my geology degree was an important start to my work, it seemed appropriate, now I’m retired, to help the Department in return.

- It was a unique opportunity to see amazing geological finds that I otherwise would never get to see. I also really love volunteering, I’m unable to work and this helps me to feel useful.

- I was trying to move away from a career in software engineering and move towards the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector. This project seemed like a good way to get some relevant experience.

A big thank you to our volunteers for their contribution to the blog - more coming soon.

Image 1: A full span of racking, filled with drawers of specimens cleaned and documented by the volunteers
Image 2. A rock from the Harker Series, one of the vast array of specimens to be moved to the new store