A post by Ellie Rylance, Megan Shannon, and Perry Li
A team of twelve students from the MA Museum and Artefact Studies course in the University’s Department of Archaeology are working to produce an exhibition which will be opening in the Museum of Archaeology on the 16th June. ‘Throwing it Out There: The Archaeology of Ritual, Rivers and Rubbish’ will focus on the rich ritual history of the rivers of County Durham from the Bronze Age to the medieval period and beyond.
We are members of the student exhibition team from the Museum Communication module, and we would love to introduce ourselves and tell you all about this incredible exhibition.
Hi! My name is Ellie and I’m a member of the exhibition team. The Museum Communication module has given me the opportunity not only to work with some of the Museum of Archaeology’s fascinating collections but also to gain very real experience and skills. I’ve helped with everything from marketing, working on labels and panels and creating learning resources to deciding what objects to include from thousands in the Museum collections. I’ve also developed skills in project management and leadership.
I have loved working on Throwing it Out There. These objects might span thousands of years in time, but they tell a unifying story about how ritual has always been part of people’s daily lives. In fact, sometimes the snapshots of life they show are remarkably similar. A Roman ring possibly signifying an engagement or marriage, a wedding ring from the nineteenth century. Working on this exhibition has given some incredible insights into how people in County Durham have lived and used the local rivers throughout history. It’s been a privilege to work with these objects and learn so much.
Not to mention, I could not have asked for a better team to work with. On which note, I’d like to pass on to Megan!
Hi everyone! My name is Megan and I am also a member of the exhibition team! Museum Communication has been an amazing experience and my favourite module that I have participated in at Durham University. Specifically, I especially love that this module doesn’t primarily focus on research and essays, but it’s about learning hands-on skills that I can one day use professionally in the museum world.
I have tried to dip my toe in all of the different aspects implemented when creating a museum exhibition, but I have become particularly skilled in object handling. I have a special interest in archaeology, so I am having so much fun researching the different objects that are going to be displayed. My favourite is a Roman ring with an orange intaglio of a man milking a goat.
This has been a once in a lifetime experience and, as an international student from the United States, I can honestly say that this is something that I will always look back on when I think about my academic career.
Now, I would like to pass on to Perry!
Hi everyone! My name is Perry. Just like Ellie and Megan, I am a member of the exhibition team for the Museum Communication module. During this module, I have participated in managing budgets, curating an online exhibition, doing audience surveys, designing worksheets for learning packs and researching stands for objects on display. I am very grateful that I can be involved in this wonderful experience as I have got the chance to work on so many areas in which I haven’t had much previous experience. This module has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and learn so many new skills which will be used in my future career.
As we are curating an exhibition instead of writing an essay, we need to think about the possible reactions from our target audience about our ideas throughout the whole curation process, which enables me to view museum collections from the perspective of the public instead of researchers. How can we make an artefact more accessible to the public? What can we do to raise the public’s interest in an artefact? We have been seeking our own answer to these questions constantly. If you are interested in our exploration into these questions, you can follow our progress through social media!
We would like to leave you with a quote from our Module Convenor, Dr Mary Brooks, who alongside all of the incredible museum staff has been guiding and supporting us through the journey of developing this exhibition. Mary says that in the Museum Communication module, “students are tasked with creating real and virtual exhibitions using the amazing collections of Durham University’s museums – a real-life opportunity to develop their professional skills, put their ideas into practice and engage with visitors. This is a key step in enabling them to realise their dreams of working in museums around the world.”
Thank you so much for reading and we hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about our experiences developing the exhibition. You can find out more about the exhibition via @duthingstodo on Instagram, ‘Durham University Things to Do’ on Facebook or the Museum of Archaeology website at https://www.durham.ac.uk/things-to-do/venues/museum-of-archaeology/.