Over the summer, as part of the York Mystery Plays, a raffle was drawn with many fabulous prizes, writes Adam Parker, Curatorial Assistant for Archaeology.
One such prize was the chance to be a Curator for a Day (for the prize winner plus up to three others) with the staff at the Yorkshire Museum. The idea being that the prize-winners would receive hands-on experience of museum collections and get a taste of day-to-day life as a curator for York Museums Trust.
Fast forward to the autumn, and David, Michael, Jacqueline and Adrianne arrived for their day at the Yorkshire Museum. They were promptly given detailed tours of our collection stores in the Museum basement by both myself and Isla Gladstone (Curator of Natural Sciences).
As giving tours of the stores is a relatively rare occurrence for Curators, we sent them away with a hands-on task - the designing and installing of two archaeological displays which utilised cases in the Yorkshire Museum Finds Lab to be used in future sessions by the Learning team.
Divided into two teams, the keen curators were set the task of producing one Roman and one medieval display, and with only an hour to do so. By the time they broke for lunch, the weird and wonderful collections in the strong-room had been whittled down to just forty objects (20 each) representative of each time period.
Returning to their duties, and once again under my guidance, the objects were installed in their temporary new homes with due thought and attention divided between the need for aesthetics and good collections care.
Once the cases were closed, the Curators for a day were set the much harder task of designing labels. Describing objects in no more than forty words in a way that is accessible to all museum visitors is harder than it seems, as the four found out.
A final afternoon session involved a fascinating crash course in the correct identification of Roman coins, ran by Rebecca Griffiths (Finds Liaison Officer).
Whilst the prize seems an unusual one, by Friday morning we had received a letter from our guests detailing how grateful they were for the experience and that they were very glad to have been involved. Four satisfied customers.