After doing some research last year at The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum for my degree, focusing on traditional embroidery and reticules, I discovered my passion and enjoyment for research and for working with fascinating, historical pieces. I then applied for and was awarded the 2014 Costume Society Bursary.
During my placement, in March and April 2015, I organized the bags and purses collection into categories, which were then catalogued and placed into dedicated storage. I have learnt how to fully document items and write appropriate descriptions, which I then updated into the museum’s collections database. I have also been responsible for all the record photography of this collection for uploading onto this system. My experience with photography and photo editing has been very useful for this. Conducting research, including the use of the museum’s library archives was also part of my assignment to make sure that the collection has detailed and insightful information accessible to all.
I have employed training received in the labeling, packing and handling of museum objects to ensure that the bag and purse collection is stored to the appropriate conservation standards.
I also selected pieces of particular interest for inclusion in a Collections Highlight Tour on the NMNI website. This involved me packaging the chosen pieces and working with the museum’s professional photographer in getting publication-quality images, which went along side informative descriptions of said pieces. Every few weeks I composed a blog for the UFTM website, giving an update on my bursary placement.
Working with Valerie Wilson, the Curator of Textiles, has been a valuable and insightful experience. I have gained a lot of knowledge and capabilities involved with museum collections and documentation. It has also been a great opportunity to network with people in a field that I am interested in as a career and I was graciously asked to speak at The Lace Guild of Northern Ireland in April 2015 about my own artwork and research at the museum which I conducted in an hour long presentation.
Gemma Walters, Museum Placement Award Winner 2014
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