A week in the life of a museum professional.

The beauty of museum work is that each day is completely different. Excitingly, my role as a Collections Officer at the Garden City Collection in Letchworth encompasses a wide variety of museum work. In a small team of 3, I delve into conservation, cataloguing, exhibitions, teaching volunteers, researching enquiries and much more.

So far in the past week I’ve attended a Collections Trust Seminar at the Science Museum in London and spent an entire Tuesday with a conservator carrying boxes around and opening them to reveal precious silk textiles (and learning a lot about past conservation treatments and textile production on the way!) I’ve also researched Letchworth’s first public statue for a journalist of an LGBT magazine, liaised with a lecturer in theatrical studies and dramaturgy from the university of Exeter concerning photographs and copyright paperwork for a publication and put-together some themes for our new museum website.

Yesterday we received a huge ‘Conservation by Design’ order, very exciting for us museum folk! Conservation-grade storage and cleaning equipment is vital in helping to look after our collections. We unwrapped lots of secol sleeves, acid free boxes and tissue, acid free card, soft hair brushes and even a brand new hepa vac!

Not long after unwrapping the new hepa vacuum cleaner and soft hair brushes, our wonderful NADFAS volunteers arrived to clean early 20th century architectural plans. We have around 20 volunteers currently working with us, they are highly valued and we could not function without their amazing help. From cataloguing to cleaning, scanning to transcribing, anything goes – with the right training from us!

Today I’m attending a copyright training course with my colleague Collections Officer Aimee at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. This will be followed by some shopping around for art materials for next week, when i’ll temporarily become a ‘creative media’ teacher, along with my two colleagues, at North Herts College. We shall be educating 4 classes of 16-17 year olds about the wonders of that 70’s invention, the fanzine – and helping them produce their own!

Finally and rather excitingly, an oil painting in our collection of Ebenezer Howard and the original ‘masterplan’ of Letchworth are both on loan to the National Portrait Gallery, for an exhibition on William Morris that opened yesterday! Our curator went to the Private view on Monday. Many early architects of Letchworth were influenced by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement.

Our website launches soon and I’ve recently participated in a mammoth digitisation project, to make more images available to view online.

I’m sure you’re feeling rather exhausted after that, there’s no rest for the museum professional that’s for sure.


My colleague unwrapping a conservation order!


Science Museum seminar, London.


The Curator giving a museum store tour.


Photography in process, our mammoth digitisation project working with the Mobile Scanning Company.


Our paper conservator Nick, based at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.


Wrapping WWI rifles for the Herts at War exhibition.


Me cataloguing fine art ready to take to the conservator!

Gemma is a History of Art graduate, who started her museum career back in January. She blogs at a joint blog with Jessica at http://thevintagecupboardlifestyles.wordpress.com/ and on her photography-themed blog at http://gemmaleader.wordpress.com/

Like Father . . .


Hat: Marks and Spencers  Scarf: Accessorize Sale (January 2014) Similar Top: H&M Basics Bag: Accessorize Sale (January 2014) Similar Jeans: Next Concert Ticket Heels: Clarks Similar (want, want, want!) Watch: Michael Kors (December 2011).


(This was for comical reasons – I try not to pull this face too often. It scares people.)

Like Father, Like Daughter. 

Growing up, my dad was a Scout and Venturer Scout leader. This meant that several nights a week he was down at the ‘hut’ with a division of Hitchins Scouts. One of my dads favourite parts of scouting was the 40 mile walk. Several days of walking and camping was like a dream to my dad. Now before we get ahead of ourselves I am not saying that was all passed down. In fact I feel the oposite about camping. However walking is something he did pass on, however much we didn’t realise this when I was a kid.

When I left for University I spent a huge amount of time exploring London, by foot.

I didn’t expect to be the girl who would end up spending her free time working out how to walk from Greenwich & Deptford to Blackheath, Lewisham, Canary Warf, Bank, . . .Central. I even took trains into central to walk from Bank to Piccadily Circus (for the National Gallery) Westminister, Waterloo, Southbank . . .

And then when I met Josh our first date was us walking from Greenwich first to Canary Warf caught a train to Bank walked around Covent Garden for Lunch walked over to Green Park, Hyde Park down to St James and started back to greenwich via Elephant and Castle (thats how far we made before catching a bus).

Cities are my thing. Where my dad walks the countryside over hills and moutains I’m more the urban explorer. Luckily three years of exploring the city have meant that I have gained a slightly odd internal compass when it comes to the London Streets. So when the tube stikes hit I knew what I wanted to do. Walk it.

The first day, I didn’t. Primarily because I was concerned about not making it in on time. On google it said 38 minutes to work. Back in my hayday that would have been an easy 20 minutes but with a broken ankle dividing me from my prime I was little bit concerned on timings but by the second day I was away.

In fact, I got into work earlier than the day befores bus trip 25 minutes? Not bad. Especially for the girl who wanted to lay down by the time she got to The Oval Stadium. But the buzz that I get from walking is equivilant to when I’m on my bike, when I have gone on a run, you name it. Like father Like Daughter apparently. So with that in mind heres to the next Strike!

p.s. I didn’t wear this to walk in. I wore leggings and a “We love fish and chips tee from Zara” But I’d love to think that I am this stylish all the time . . .