Volunteer experiences at the RCP Museum
Woman photographs object in case with SLR camera.

The RCP Museum has been delighted to be joined by Mavis and Karolina who have been undertaking the placement aspect of their Museum Studies Masters degree at UCL. Here they share their experiences volunteering:

 

Volunteer experience - Mavis - UCL student placement

It has been a delightful five months I’ve spent here at RCP as a public programme placement student, and my time here within the Libraries, Archives and Museum services team has been incredibly rewarding. It has been a joy to be working closely with the RCP’s extensive collection and archives and learning about them through the writing of social media posts for #MuseumWeek2022 and #OnThisDay for example. Researching the collection for the museum’s social media felt a bit like I was sitting down with the individual object or physician, listening to their stories, and then telling these fascinating stories to the public, helping the collection further the museum’s mission in engaging the public with the history of medicine. It has been a great pleasure to be able to spend so much time in the collection, and I have learned a lot both about the RCP itself and the history of medicine.

My time here has also given me an opportunity to witness the curation of an exhibition from behind- the scenes and get involved by framing a few prints for ‘A Taste of One’s Own Medicine’. It has been a really valuable experience to be able to see what I’ve learned from my degree in Museum Studies in action and understand how exhibitions come together, and how a museum functions from day to- day. Some of my other favourite moments here involve witnessing the collection come to life- either in the RCP garden where prints from ‘A Taste of One’s Own Medicine’ are brilliantly adapted into a drama, or in the hands of children as they make their very own pomanders. I’m definitely looking forward to future exhibitions and events and see how the museum continues to bring forth the history of medicine and stories from the medical field to light.

Karolina installing a book for display.

Karolina- UCL student placement

As a Museum Studies student at UCL part of my degree involved completing a placement, which I have done here at the Royal College of Physicians Museum. Other than assisting the collection and exhibition officers with tasks around the museum, my main responsibility focused on carrying out a location audit of the collection’s medium sized prints, as well as rehousing them into new archival polyester wallets.


At the start of the placement, I was a little nervous when it came to handling the prints. It is one thing learning about the correct object handling procedures in a university environment, and another thing putting them into practice in an actual museum. The re-housing process consisted of separating the prints from the card paper they were attached to; some of the prints were glued at the top, and some taped. I used a scalpel to make vertical and horizontal cuts that would leave behind the strip of paper that the print was attached to. The freed print was then transferred to its new home, a polyester wallet. Print by print, I gained more confidence and was fascinated to learn more about the preventative conservation of prints and the types of damage they can have. Foxing and smoke damage were the ones I spotted most often.
Now that the placement has finished, I have successfully completed the audit, and re-housed 312 prints in total! My time at the RCP was definitely a positive experience that further developed my knowledge and skills of collection care.

Placement presentation before.

  

Placement presentation after.
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