Whilst in Shropshire…

Laura Simcox writes:

Travelling into the depths of the Gorge everyday reminds me how lucky I am to be a Cultural Intern. Ironbridge really is a beautiful place, and if you have never been then you are truly missing out! Get down there and buy yourself a pork pie.

I have learnt so much already. My knowledge of the Industrial Revolution was threadbare (yes, I was surprised I got the job!) but a collection audit has turned that around. The Museum of Iron is a very interesting museum where you can learn all about the production of iron and how it was revolutionised with the use of coke (which is interesting, I promise), the Darby family who got it all started and other fun history sagas like the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the gorgeous Crystal Palace made of glass and iron – who’d have thought iron could be so useful?

So a collection audit. This involved me trawling through the museum for days on end collecting as much data as possible about the objects – accession numbers (not always accessible), dimensions (not always easy), descriptions (with a lack of labels this can be VERY tricky – see if you can work out what these three very baffling objects are….. ):

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Thankfully I became acquainted with Adlib, software used for museum, library and archive collection management, which proved my saviour. The gaps in my 600 page document became mostly filled and I obtained a more conclusive account of the museum collection.

Oh and here’s one of my favourite objects, William Ball’s chair. William Ball, otherwise known as ‘The Shropshire Giant’ worked for the Coalbrookdale Company as a puddler and then a shingler (he assisted in the manufacture of iron), but most interestingly he weighed over 40 stones!:

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Moving on from objects I have started a text audit of the museum which will assess the story we are currently telling, its gaps and its errors and of course its successes, all in preparation for the redevelopment.

Aside from curatorial “stuff” I have also helped out in events. A couple of weeks ago IGMT held it’s Gorgeous Contemporary Craft and Fine Food Fair all in honour of Christmas and it was great fun. I love engaging with the public so this was right up my street.

Gorgeous was celebrating its 10th year so it was deserving of something a little extra special. In collaboration with artist/musician Dan Fox the event included an arts and crafts offer in the form of “Enginuitree” where visitors could make a paper snowflake, have it recreated in wood in the Fablab and contribute to the growth of the tree. This was the end product:

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Leading up to the event I also got the opportunity to put my creative head on and produced very gorgeous entrance badges and my own extra large snowflakes to create a walkway into one of the exhibition spaces:

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For now I’m going to continue learning more about the workings of museums and understanding better how I want my career to progress. Finally, have a lovely Christmas. Here’s a willow reindeer to get you in the spirit…

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PS. the objects above prove to be a man trap, a mould for making pots and most annoyingly, a bog standard bellied pot… upside down.

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