The museum may be closed, but work continues behind the scenes to manage our collection and explore new and innovative ways of providing public "access" during lockdown. Like many organisations, video conferencing technology has become central to our day to day operations. Meetings that would previously have been face to face have now been moved online.
With social distancing still in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, our Curator and Collections Manager took part in a recent Museum Development East Midlands (MDEM) workshop via Zoom. The workshop entitled “Delving Deeper: Reinterpreting Collections” covered, amongst other things, ways of making collections available to the public during lockdown whilst museums are closed. We all shared our ideas and learned new ones to help us manage our collections and explore new ways to share them with our audiences during these crazy times. Thanks to all those who attended for their great ideas.
You can follow all of the workshop participants via their Twitter pages:
Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre @RafMetheringham
Verity : @verity_smith89,
Sarah MDEM @MusDevEM,
The Old Rectory Loughborough @OldRectoryLboro
The Cottage Museum Woodall Spa @CottageMuseumWS,
Louth Museum @LouthMuseum
Desborough Hertitage Centre @DesboroughHeri1
Swannington Heritage Trust @HoughMill
Belper North Mill @belpermill
What a lovely, if windy, day for our volunteers at the centre this weekend. Preparations are now well underway for our new exhibition for 2020. We will be sharing previously unseen parts of our collection with visitors in our newly renovated Carey Powell museum room and we'll be able to tell more previously untold stories about those who flew with 106 squadron and from RAF Metheringham. Selecting the artefacts and stories to support this exhibition is really exciting as we search through our records and plan what to put where. We are always interested to hear from others doing the same at other heritage sites and museums; how are you preparing for the new season? What challenges do you face and how have you overcome them? It seems whatever we do, tea and biscuits are essential though. Happy curating.
It was the last curatorial session of the year (and the decade for that matter!) for our small team of volunteers on Saturday. We completed the last tasks for the the year, covering items to protect them during the coldest part of the season and clearing out a store ready for renovation early in the new year. Thank you to all the volunteers who have taken part in the activities at Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre over this last year. Thank you to those who have spent their spare time with us including Stewards, the Dakota team, the researchers, digitisers, exhibition team, photographic team, web and social media team, catering volunteers, education and curatorial teams as well as all the FOMA’s trustees and patrons. Special thanks must go to all our visitors. The wonderful feedback you give us makes all our efforts worthwhile and we hope to see you again in 2020 when we will have some exciting new displays and events.
We are always looking for more volunteers to join our friendly and enthusiastic team. So if you have a few hours spare to spend with us each month in 2020 to help us preserve the memories of those who served at RAF Metheringham and in 106 Squadron, then please do contact us. As you can see some of us repaired to the recently re-opened Royal Oak in Martin for a well earned festive drink to finish the season. How appropriate that we should enjoy a Christmas tipple in the very pub frequented by so many 106 Squadron personnel in WW2. We wish you all a very happy Christmas and a happy New Year. See you in 2020.
The Centre is now closed to visitors but the work on conserving, planning and preparing for the next season continues. In fact, the Winter months are the busiest time for some of our volunteers as we can remove items from display for cleaning, preservation and restoration. Our band of dedicated volunteers meet each Saturday and this month our focus is on returning our displays to stores. This week we were conserving uniforms that have been on display and returning the smaller artefacts to storage.
On Saturday, Roger, Phil and Sam undressed the mannequins and prepared all the removed clothing items for freezing prior to cleaning ready for storage. Did you know that freezing items, especially clothing, is an important part of the conservation process? It kills of any insects and their larvae that might have taken up residence on the items whilst on display and ensures that they can't cause any damaged during Winter storage. Items are frozen for at least three weeks. We then carefully but thoroughly vacuum each item to remove dead bugs, larvae and droppings leaving our precious clothing clean and bug free before being stored.
The task at times was complicated due to the position the mannequins had been originally placed in but the team enjoyed the day especially as it was completed to plan. Christine and Kate started planning new display ideas, Linda continued the important work of photograph conservation and recording the metadata, whilst Sam, Rod, Sue and Caterina completed some of the backlog tasks we had planned. Our recent grant from Museums Development East Midlands (MDEM) of £500 is helping us to Banish the Backlog.
We are always looking for new volunteers especially those who would like to learn new skills such as caring for collections, are interested in researching the archived stories to support our new season’s displays and are keen to join our enthusiastic group. No prior experience is necessary and if you are interested then please contact us via the website and ask for the Curator, we look forward to hearing from you.
Working with other Museums: Colaborating With Cannock Chase Great War Interpretation Hut in Staffordshire
Collaboration between museums is rewarding as it benefits us all especially when we share expertise and resources. One such successful collaboration took place this year between Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre (MAVC) and the Great War Interpretation Hut, at Marquis Drive, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.
A chance conversation between Dave Dunham and Caterina Scott, both volunteer curators, during a trip organised by the Lincoln & North Lincolnshire Branch, Western Front Association, to the WW1 training area in Staffordshire on Cannock Chase, revealed that the hut’s WW1 display needed a mannequin that could be seated. MAVC had a spare mannequin who could sit and be manipulated. So, an arrangement was made for it to be collected by Dave Dunham of the Cannock Chase Great War Interpretation Hut.
The Sniper exhibition was opened in July at the Great War Interpretation Hut and “Arthur” the Great War British Sniper is now a permanent exhibit. The donation of the mannequin from MAVC is acknowledged in the hut and Dave Dunham sent a sent a message ‘Many thanks, once again, to all of you at the RAF Metheringham Airfield Museum for your kind donation of the mannequin to the Cannock Chase Great War Interpretation Hut’. It's great that the volunteer teams running small museums all over the UK can share ideas and assets to the benefit of all concerned especially our lovely visitors.
Visit www.staffspasttrack.org.uk hut to find out more.
Today, we had a great day at Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre (MAVC) as we hosted Creative Learning Services (CLS) and Museums Development East Midlands (MDEM). The learning team were taking part in the Engaging with Schools Programme, funded by MDEM, which has helped us to develop our learning programme for schools. As you can see one of our learning volunteers, Mike Kenedy, threw himself eagerly into the interactive leaning sessions led by Mary Sibson from CLS, showing us how role play adds to the immersive learning experience. Museum educators and volunteers from the National Trust’s Belton House and Sudbury Hall Museum of Childhood, The National Civil War Centre, Creswell Craggs, as well as the learning team from MAVC enjoyed the activities. Today we focussed on a variety of topics such as the different ways children learn, how we can develop our learning programmes to use objects and grab learners’ attention (that’s not real blood on Mary and Mike’s aprons!) and how we can develop our learning programme by capitalizing on a range of different opportunities to help develop links with other organisations. We finished the day with a celebration of everyone’s progress on this year long project. Thanks to all at MDEM and CLS for a great year of support. Funding from MDEM has given MAVC the chance to purchase new props for our RAF Metheringham Experience Day, help us develop a more engaging schools programme and to devise new marketing materials. The learning team at MAVC will be continuing on the project for a second year; working with CLS and MDEM to further develop an outreach programme. Watch this space!