I am very grateful to both the Roman Society and The Manchester Museum for giving me an excellent opportunity to work in such an interesting Museum and at such an exciting time: whilst completing my placement at Manchester I was fortunate enough to assist in the final stages of the opening of the new exhibition Ancient Worlds. It was very exciting to see many of the objects and collections I had worked on a few months before finally go on display in this amazing exhibition (you can find out more about Caitlin’s work in the post ‘A Fake Lamp’ on the Ancient Worlds Blog).
One of the largest collections of objects I worked on came from a metal detector, and included buttons, bells, buckles, toy canons and even a large medieval key. After cataloguing, numbering and photographing this huge collection I was able to appreciate the value of donations and loans from metal detecting clubs and individuals, which bring a wide variety of finds to the Museum. This particular collection was quite extensive, though there was little information about where things came from. Coming from an archaeology background this was quite frustrating as the information the collection could offer was limited. However photographing the objects in the respective groups and then finally seeing them in the exhibition it gave me a chance to understand that the aesthetic appeal of objects to the public almost equalled their historic value to archaeologists.
I was also able to see how one collection of objects was prepared for the exhibition and added to the digital app database: the collection was a large group of Roman glass with over a 100 items including vases, flasks and drinking vessels, they came from various sites in Europe. The artefacts were arranged in the stores and then individually examined by one of the conservation team, the iridescent shine of some of the glass was actually a result of decay and corrosion. A mock-up of the display was created in the store and photographs were taken of each shelf and blown up to A3, which I then annotated with accession numbers. This allowed the installation team to recreate the display in the gallery without starting again from scratch and it saved time. This task required a steady hand as the glass was extremely fragile and the odd, tall shapes made it difficult to keep moving the objects safely. After recording the accession numbers of the glass vessels I added to them to a database along with their descriptions; the idea of a more digitally interactive exhibition was fascinating. It was an excellent opportunity to see how modern exhibitions make use of current technology to cater for a new generation of visitors.
My time at Manchester was very enjoyable and this placement was an amazing opportunity for me. I would like to thank the Society for the Promotion of Roman studies for funding me and I would like to thank Bryan Sitch the Deputy Head of Collections and Curator of Archaeology at the Manchester Museum for enabling me to experience working in the Museum and for involving me in the new exhibition.