Recently, I’ve been working with David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Science Collections, helping to put together a selection of objects for some of The Museums volunteers to facilitate some object handling over the next few months.
The first step in putting this together was to come up with a list of objects which would be suitable, that meant; thinking about conservation issues, making sure the specimens were suitable for handling, picking good objects that were interesting, etc .
As volunteers had used objects from the Palaeontology and Mineralogy collections in previous handling sessions, a good portion of objects were already listed and it was down to myself and David to add some more objects to give the volunteers more of a choice. The idea behind using more objects was to allow the volunteers to choose the objects that they felt most comfortable with & found the most interesting, hopefully leading to a better experience for themselves and visitors.
After picking the objects, it was then time to locate & choose those that had previously been used and the new objects we were going to add.
Above are the objects which were chosen; a banded iron formation, a fossil fish; Spaniodon elongatus, a piece of fossilised seabed in Wenlock limestone, a Trilobite; Dicalymene sp., a fossil pine cone of a Monkey puzzle tree, Stigmaria root, the mineral Labradorite, an Agate and an Ichthyosaur vertebrae.
Choosing the new objects also gave me the chance to gain experience attaching an accession label to the specimens, using conservation adhesive and acetone. The adhesive was mixed with the acetone to make it more usable as a kind of coating to be applied over the label to create a seal.
After the objects were picked, they were then packed to be used in a session with the volunteers, where myself and David spoke to them about the objects, giving them information on each and answering any questions they had, although admittedly David was answering the more difficult ones!
The session with the volunteers was a great couple of hours and the process of putting together a small collection suitable for volunteers & handling meant I was able to gain experience working with them, something which I’ll hopefully gain more experience of as the traineeship progresses.