In this week's blog, MWEG 2020 recipient Millie Ross, shares her experiences working with Museums Worcestershire and researching their latest fashion exhibition Captivating Costume: 3 centuries of fashion opening 1st February 2022.
My background is in costume production and I am currently nearing the end of my master’s in museums studies. This grant allowed me to elevate my knowledge and practical experience working for a museum service, specifically with a costume collection. Despite the troubles of COVID-19 I successfully and enjoyably worked with Museums Worcestershire to learn more about the documentation system and help research a new fashion exhibition.
I was lucky enough to work from home in accordance with Museums Worcestershire’s initiative ‘Volunteering at Home’ that allows collections to briefly leave the museum. I developed the costume database to add more historical costume detail and marked off each object as catalogued. I photographed the costume, repackaged it appropriately, and in many cases, I researched key terminology to ensure correct documentation.
I researched fashion through the ages for a new exhibition currently in development. This information will be used to select costumes to display and I worked with the exhibition team in deciding the exhibition format.
This experience has been invaluable to me in many ways. It kept me focused and motivated through the various lockdowns which also had the personal benefit of supporting my mental health. It has also been a massive aid for me in terms of my career. I was able to apply practices that I had learned through my Museum Studies course which has given me a solid understanding of such procedures.
Working with curators and other museum staff gave me insight into working in the museum sector. Practical experiences, alongside theoretical and academic experiences, have been very advantageous for me. Most importantly, it was so enjoyable to work with the costume collection and I feel very privileged that I worked so closely with it. In terms of learning about the history and construction of garments, nothing beats being able to study the original for yourself.
I enjoyed working with the collection greatly and assisting Claire the costume curator whom I learned so much from. I hope to continue to volunteer on costume projects in the future and I feel that this experience has reinforced my aspirations to work with museum costume collections.
Thank you to the Costume Society for the award and to Claire at Museums Worcestershire for your support!
The Museum Work Experience Grant (MWEG) is intended to support students seeking museum work experience with a dress collection and to help UK museums accomplish projects essential to the care, knowledge and interpretation of collections. In each year a grant of up to £1000 will be offered to a student applying jointly with an appropriate UK-based museum. The volunteer should be a student (minimum second year undergraduate) or recent graduate of an appropriate UK university course.
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