New SHARE Training Calendar – Part 2

20150420_141038

Thank you to everyone who took part in my training needs survey earlier this year. I fed all the information back up to SHARE and they have used it in producing this year’s calendar, which goes live at 9am today.

In today’s blog, I am going to highlight where you can access the training that the majority of people requested in each category. However, it is in no way an exhaustive list of what’s on offer (over 100 training events between now and next spring!) so I do recommend taking time to have a look through and see what would be of use to you and your colleagues.

Of those of you who responded to my survey, only one third had not attended any SHARE training in the last year and of them only 10% said that this was because the training was too hard to get to. If there is training that your museum needs, but cannot afford the travel, it isn’t running or it is simply too far away, please do contact me as I may be able to help.

Several of the training days are running in Essex, but please remember that SHARE have to support the whole of the East of England. Therefore they move they days about and if a particular subject has been in Essex recently, they do have to move it somewhere else this year.

Most Requested Training By Category

  1. Collections

There was a strong “digital element” to the training requests for collections, including Copyright, Digitising Collections and Managing Digital Images.

I have spoken to Simon at SHARE about Copyright and they have identified that it is a need for support with this area, however from their experience they aren’t sure if training is the best way of providing it. SHARE is currently formulating a plan and I will update you as soon as possible. If you do have any urgent copyright questions, please get in touch.

Regarding digitising collections, there are several useful days coming up:

  • “Point & Shoot: Collections Photography Using Digital Cameras” is running on 6th October at Ely Museum and 2nd February in Norwich
  • “Digital Technology & Collections: Promoting Access and Engagement” is on 5th October in Ipswich

For managing digital images, I suggest:

  • “Managing Digital Images” on 15th December at Mill Green Museum and Mill in Hatfield or 27th April in Wymondham Heritage Museum, Norfolk
  • “Create Once, Publish Everywhere: How to COPE With Your Digital Content” on 1st December at the Museum of Cambridge or 20th April at the Long Shop Museum in Leiston

I would also suggest having a look at joining the Digital Development Forum if you are planning on a large digital project. The next meeting is on 20th October in Norwich

Other Collections based training that had a large number of requests are Conservation Basics and Rationalisation.

There are several conservation-themed days coming up:

  • Handle With Care: Object Handling & Packing on 2nd December in Mildenhall, Suffolk
  • “Conservation Uncovered: Major Museum Tours” on 19th November is going behind the scenes at the University of Cambridge conservation lab
  • “Environmental Monitoring” on 26th April at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge
  • Integrated Pest Management: Level 1 on 10th November at Royston and District Museum
  • Integrated Pest Management: Level 2 on 2nd March at University of Cambridge Museums.
  • The 2nd Annual SHARE Collections Care Conference on 20th January at Hughes Hall in Cambridge.

Some sessions are much more specialised but will be relevant to several Essex Museums, including:

  • Assessing and Repacking Military Costume: A Costume & Textiles Network Event on 6th October in Norwich
  • “Preventive Conservation for Waterlogged Archaeology: A Maritime Heritage Network East Event” which is on 15th October at Southend Central Museum

SHARE also have their online Collections Care Syllabus. This current version is available online but it is being reviewed and updated so look out for updates later in the year.

For Rationalisation, SHARE are running “Rationalisation, Review and Disposal: Getting Started” on 8th October. Please note that there will also be funding support for rationalisation available later in the year. It is not compulsory, but I would recommend attending the training if you wish to apply.

2. Audiences

The most requested audience-themed training days are: Writing Engaging Text, Marketing on a Budget, Display Techniques and Understanding Audiences.

There are two different text-writing events booked in this year:

  • Captivating Captions on a Budget is one of this year’s first trainings, happening on 7th September at The Red House in Suffolk.
  • Make it Snappy: Writing Effective Text on 11th April at the Museum of East Anglian Life

There isn’t a generalised “marketing” training on the SHARE calendar this year, so I will organise something for later in the year. However, there are two specialised courses which may be of interest:

  • “Awareness, engagement and impact: Marketing to drive fundraising and income generation – a SHARED Enterprise event” on 25th November at Verulamium Museum in St Albans
  • Social Media Next Steps on 22nd September in Luton and on 9th March (venue TBC). If you feel that you need a “Beginners” level Social Media training, please DO NOT book on to this course. Contact me and I will arrange for help and support.

There are a couple of events coming up for Display Techniques:

  • Basic Display Techniques, 13th October in Stevenage and 12th January at Gainsborough’s House in Suffolk and on 14th April in Norwich.
  • Cutting Edge: Making Professional Labels & Panels on 3rd March at Hollytrees Museum in Colchester

There are several events which will be of interest for those of you who requested “Understanding Audiences”:

  • Front-of-House Forum on 19th October in Norwich
  • First Steps in Community Participation on 14th January in Luton
  • Complaints, Criticisms and Conflicts: How to Handle Them All on 28th January in Ely Museum
  • Managing Successful Events on 25th February at the Fenland Museum and Denny Abbey in Cambridgeshire
  • Working with Different Audiences on 4th March at The Polar Museum in Cambridge

There were also several requests for How to use HistoryPin, which SHARE are offering on 21st October in Ipswich

“Being a “Dementia Friendly” venue” and “Making your museum accessible for people with Autism” were also both highly requested. Working with these audiences will be covered in “Working with Different Audiences” and Helen Griffiths (Essex County Council’s Cultural Access, Learning and Participation Officer) and I am planning to run Dementia Friendly training soon.

3. Children and Young People

The most requested training session for children and young people are Setting Up A Youth Panel/Young Curators, Working with Schools, Child Protection/Safeguarding and Using Digital Technology to Deliver Learning With Schools.

“Giving Young People a Voice: Youth Panels and Young Curators” is running on 18th September at Colchester Castle (NB This will follow the Essex Heritage Education Group meeting).

Regarding Working With Schools, Helen Griffiths and I are planning a series of training in this subject and Child-Protection/Safeguarding for later in the year (look out for more details soon) however, you may also be interested in:

  • Surprising Science For Schools is on 21st January at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket.
  • Learning From Objects on 9th October in Ipswich or 7th December in Bedford
  • Object Lessons 3: SHARE & Bridges Children & Young People Conference on 10th February, venue TBC
  • Consider Yourself: Reflective Learning Practice for Learning Staff and Volunteers in Museums, 18th April, Museum of Cambridge

As you may be aware, I’ve been working with several museums in the county on a digital learning pilot. The case-studies from the project will be shared via my website, SHARE and the Heritage Education Group later in the year.

4. Resilience

The most commonly requested training sessions in this section fall into two categories, Volunteer Management (Volunteer Management, Volunteer Recruitment and Young Volunteers) and Fundraising/Income Generation (Alternate Ways to Boost Your Income, Making The Most of Your Shop, How to Talk to Funders and Other Stakeholders and Writing Funding Applications).

SHARE have recently launched the Volunteer Coordinators Forum, details of which can be found here. This is a great source of support for anyone managing volunteers, including those who are volunteers themselves. I also recently commissioned a volunteer management toolkit which is available here. 

SHARE are offering the following training events:

  • Volunteers: Getting Them In and Keeping Them Happy (a Volunteer Co-ordinators’ Forum event) on 18th April at Ipswich Transport Museum
  • Volunteer Co-ordinators’ Forum: Youth Volunteering, 8th December, John Buyan Museum, Bedford

SHARE also have a Retail Forum which offers peer support to those running museum shops. More details can be found here and there are some relevant training days too:

  • “Top Tips For Retail” on 4th February at Braintree Museum
  • “SHARE Retail Forum: Selling Skills and Sound Retail Practice” on 21st September at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket

Regarding applying for grants and other fundraising training, there are lots of options:

  • “Relationship Fundraising and Legacy Giving for Museums – a SHARED Enterprise Event” on 12th October at Colchester Castle
  • HLF Young Roots Seminar on 19th October at the HLF Office in Cambridge
  • “Awareness, engagement and impact: Marketing to drive fundraising and income generation – a SHARED Enterprise event” on 25th November at Verulamium Museum
  • “Enterprise & Philanthropy: building relationships to fund museums” on 2nd March at the Museum of London

I would also like to highlight that my colleague Andrew Ward and I are offering a “surgery” connected to Essex County Council’s Cultural Development grants on 23rd September in Chelmsford.

The other training that I would especially like to  mention is Understanding Museums. This is a six day course (one day a fortnight). While six days is a big commitment, this is the perfect course for anyone who is new to working or volunteering in museums. It explains why we do what we do, how different types of museums operate and looks at the history and ethics of the sector.

I would like to thank the SHARE Museums team (Annette, Simon, Kathy, Miranda and Liz) for all their hard work in pulling together this training offer – and wish them luck when the booking opens at 9 o’clock!

Introducing the British Association of Friends of Museums (BAfM)

Alan Swerdlow, Eastern region representative of BAfM, tells us a little bit about who they are and what they do.

BAfM has been serving Friends of museums since the 1970s and represents some 400 groups – in the six Eastern region counties there are around forty members. Benefits include a full colour Journal issued three times a year; there will soon be a regular e-newsletter. Members are entitled to sign up for a competitively costed insurance scheme and have access to legal advice from top London charity lawyers.

In each region a local newsletter and annual conference keep local groups in touch. The Eastern region representative Alan Swerdlow is able to provide general advice including on how to set up a Friends group.

BAfM makes awards to young museum professions with alternate years going for a project successfully completed by someone working in a member museum and a new award to provide funds for a travel scholarship / bursary.

The Annual Conference, hosted by different Friends groups, includes the Annual General Meeting. This year in Cheltenham, past events have been in such locations as Swansea, York, Liverpool and Aberdeen.

The Association is affiliated to the World Federation of Friends of Museums (WFFM) and is run by a Council consisting of the thirteen area representatives and officers.

Council is always looking out for new people to join the Board to help provide the range of services members find so useful. Further information may be found at www.bafm.org.uk

BAfM are currently looking for new board members. See their press release for more information and details of the roles.

#VolunteersWeek: Students, Graduates and Small Museums

Cater Museum

The “traditional museum volunteer” starts once they’ve retired and volunteers regularly for ten or twenty years. However, in 2015 many museums are finding it hard to find people who are able/want to volunteer in this way so are changing the way they think of the role.

Here Christine Brewster, Volunteer Curator of the Cater Museum and Katie Wilkie, a recent university graduate and Cater Museum volunteer, talk about the benefits to the museum and the individual of having volunteer opportunities for students and recent graduates:

Christine: “Here at the Cater Museum we have benefited greatly from the assistance of the High School, University and Post-Graduate students who have applied to us to do voluntary work experience.  Many positions in the current economic climate require applicants to have had satisfactory experience in one or more institutions.  So this relationship can be beneficial to both parties.

Having volunteers may place a strain on the already limited man-hours of most institutions because for the experience to be beneficial, guidance and supervision are required.  But at the Cater Museum we have been fortunate in that the students wishing to come for experience have been of a very high calibre, highly literate and numerate, hard working and dedicated to history and heritage.  We have had, at times, a waiting list of students wishing to join us.  Again, for the experience to be of value, the numbers must be limited to ensure proper supervision.

In each case, we have encouraged our students to create a project which can be proudly presented to prospective employers or graduate schools.  The museum, needless to say, has greatly benefited by the quality of those projects.

My one  reservation has always been that I may be unable to get a student the recognition they deserve in museum circles.  Having a forum or regular meetings for the students would be ideal, but many are under financial restraints and must also balance the commitment of studies and exams with their practical work.

Our young volunteers have carried out numerous projects, from cataloguing and creating a database for our coins to transcribing a First World War diary.  By their very youth, they can be far better at using the computer and search engines and linking us to the digital world.”

Katie: “I have been volunteering at The Cater Museum since 2012 and it was through my voluntary work that I was taken on as a paid member of staff. Through volunteering and the projects I am undertaking I have gained valuable experience and skills.  Not only this, I have seen how a small museum is run and have become aware of some of the issues that face the museum and heritage industry.

Many employees are looking for people who have worked or volunteered in the industry and many of these employees started out by volunteering themselves.  It is a great way to gain valuable experience for a C.V. and one project could provide a volunteer with a variety of skills; documentation, research, handling, preventative conservation, photography and using collection management software.

While it can be a hard industry to get into all of the people I have met have been quick to encourage me and hand out useful advice. Volunteering is a great way of connecting with people in the same industry and making your face known when it comes to finding a job; it may also help to narrow down a career path.

There are other benefits to volunteering; it opens up opportunities for professional development. Some organisations offer training or membership to volunteers as well as paid staff. This can mean professional development, free entry to museums and exhibitions, events and publications.

The benefits of volunteering are multi-faceted.”

#VolunteersWeek: The vTeam – Partnership Opportunities With the Student Volunteering Team

A member of the vTeam supporting young people

A member of the vTeam supporting young people

Anya Visegorodceva is the Volunteer Co-ordinator for the University of Essex Students’ Union. Here she describes the work of the vTeam, a group who have the potential to support the work of many of our county.

Two members of the vTeamvTeam is a student led volunteer team at University of Essex Students’. Each year hundreds of students go out in the local community to help out charities, schools and not for profit organisations.

vTeam mainly does two types of projects: regular projects and one off projects. Regular projects run on a weekly basis in local schools, care homes and a refugee centre. Students deliver session on different topics anything from English to History and foreign languages. One-off projects happen throughout the year and usually take few hours, a day or are spread over two days. In the past we’ve worked with schools, charities, community halls and nature reserve completing different tasks. We paint, we dig, we cut shrubs and we steward events. In the last two years we had volunteers helping at both Oxjam Festival and Colchester Film Festivals, we worked at numerous schools in the local area and worked with countless charities and organisations.

A group of vTeam volunteersWe are always seeking new opportunities and our focus in the upcoming year is going to be on transferable skills volunteering. We are looking at offering variety of voluntary placements for our students that would benefit their CV’s. We are looking for admin, customer services, finance, marketing and social media placements.

In the past some of our students volunteered at local universities in their spare time and they built fantastic relationships with every venue. We always welcome new opportunities and are open to suggestions.

If you have something in mind or would like to work with us, send us an email to vteam@essex.ac.uk

The vTeam have bases at both the Colchester and Southed campuses of the University of Essex. If you would like to involve the team in a one off project but are concerned that your museum is to far away, please contact me as I may be able to provide transport.

#VolunteersWeek: Volunteering with Kids in Museums

2012 London Volunteer Awards

Jane at the 2012 London Volunteer Awards (back row, fourth from left)

Jane Allnutt is a freelance museum educator based in Essex. Here she shares her experiences of volunteering with Kids in Museums.

Volunteering takes you to places you wouldn’t normally reach….. it has certainly been true for me, in the six years since I began volunteering with Kids in Museums.

This charity has a Director, Trustees and a TV personality amongst its Patrons, but more importantly, it has a large number of valued and committed volunteers who rarely – if ever, meet together. We co-operate, support and keep in touch through the internet and by email. Back in 2009 this was unusual, but it is now ‘normal’ working practise for a lot of organisations. Each of the volunteers has a different role and we have recently appointed our first Volunteer Co-ordinator to ensure everyone who volunteers can contribute to projects which use their skills and ensure they feel valued by the organisation.

So what’s my role? Since I teach most of the time, I tend to volunteer on an irregular basis, but I still feel what I do is valued. I help out with one day events like the Family Fortunes, Teens, and Babies Workshops, usually held in a London museum – although we recently held a workshop in Kensington Palace and we have one in September at London Zoo! I log and monitor the documents downloaded from the website each month, I conduct the volunteer interviews and hopefully select the people with the skills we need. I also help out with Takeover Day in various venues and collect information and write Case Studies. In August I’ll be collecting feedback from the ‘under cover’ family judges who visit the 6 short-listed museums for the Most Family Friendly Museum Award. This involves lots of time spent on the telephone but it’s fascinating to hear how the families score the museums against the Kids in Museums Manifesto – 20 points to encourage museums to become more family friendly, and it’s their judgements which choose the final winner.

Over the years I have undertaken research (paid) for the Family Ticket Watch Report – to find out what museums, and families want from a Family /concessionary ticket. Sometimes the volunteering has led onto paid work for particular projects which is always a bonus!

I’ve attended a report launch at the Houses of Parliament, been to Private Views and Exhibition openings mingling with the rich and famous. I’ve also met some people I hugely admire – Michael Rosen, Judith Kerr and Quentin Blake (who drew the Kids in Museums logo) along with various Minsters, TV personalities, ‘top brass’ in the museum world and other inspiring people who support this unique and influential organisation.

Best of all I’ve met some awesome volunteers with fantastic drive and energy, fully committed to promoting Kids in Museums. Some like me have been volunteering for quite a few years, others volunteer for a short time on a particular project where they have specific skills. Check out the website www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk for more information on Kids in Museums.

Kids in Museums are currently recruiting for new volunteers. If you are interested in giving-back to the sector while broadening your experience for your CV, click here for more information.

#VolunteersWeek: Life as a Museum Volunteer

Tonight is the inaugural SHARE Museums East Volunteer Awards, which are taking place in Bury St Edmunds. Volunteers from Braintree Museums have been short-listed for four of these awards, so I asked Deke Dudley to share her experiences of volunteering at the museum.

Having worked for years in a demanding job as a Holiday Rep, long irregular hours, meeting wonderful people, meeting not-so-wonderful people and meeting the downright rude, impossible people, I was at a bit of a loose end on my retirement and permanent return to the UK.  Aha!  Volunteering would appear to be the answer, I could choose my hours to fit in around grandchild minding and it would, hopefully, be more flexible than a proper job.

Luckily, I decided to look in the Braintree District Museum for current bus timetables and lo and behold, there was an advertisement asking for volunteers.  I applied and was accepted immediately, I started volunteering on a Thursday and that has continued for over three years now.  It was soon discovered that I am computer literate so after a few months I became Volunteer Co-ordinator, my duties have been varied and various, besides keeping all our volunteers apprised of everything that is going on there is helping in the shop, helping with children’s activities, stock-taking, envelope filling, manning stalls at various fayres amongst other assorted activities.

Life as a volunteer is definitely not boring, and as support is constantly provided by staff, there is no need ever to feel out of your depth.   Volunteers provide such a vital role within modern society whether in charity shops, hospitals, museums, schools or anywhere else that asks for help, that the thanks received, although profuse, pales in comparison to the sense of fulfilment achieved by volunteering.

Volunteering is now in my blood, so much so that when I moved to Finchingfield and the opportunity arose to volunteer at the newly restored Guildhall, I offered my services there too, so I can now add to my list of duties, serving at coffee mornings, barmaid and giving talks to various groups on Finchingfield and the Guildhall.  So to anybody thinking of volunteering, no matter what you think you can’t do, you do have something to offer, and somebody somewhere needs your help, so go for it!  Remember, Volunteers are not, not paid because they are worthless, they are not paid because they priceless.

Good luck to everyone nominated for one of the Volunteering Awards.

Don’t forget that SHARE’s new Volunteer Coordinators Forum is launching on 2nd July!

#VolunteersWeek: Accreditation and Volunteer-Run Museums

Volunteers at Mersea Museum installing their summer exhibition

Volunteers at Mersea Museum installing their summer exhibition

Mersea Museum is an independent local history museum, established in 1976. They have recently submitted their successful Accredited return and Joanne Godfrey talks about their experiences of the process as a volunteer-run organisation.

Mersea Museum became a registered museum in the 1980s, a fact which my predecessors were very proud of, and it has been very important to us not to let them down and to continue to make progress. Our last accreditation return under the MLA in 2010 was a bit more demanding than the previous one but we got through it successfully.

In 2013 we had to make our next return under the new ACE standard and I must admit that we were rather surprised and daunted by the amount of work that would be required, even allowing for the element of scaleability for small museums. However, after going through the different sections carefully and taking copious notes, we realised that this would be do-able. There are templates available to help with writing policies and you can find examples online of what other museums have done which can be helpful. We also made plenty of use of our Museum Mentor and MDO who have the experience to help you when you get stuck or just need a bit of support and encouragement.

Getting people involved in areas such as the Forward Plan and Collections Development Policy is useful as it makes you think about what your museum and its collections are really about and how to reach out to all potential audiences. There were many areas where we had to put into words things that we tended to take for granted such strengths and weaknesses, which was a very useful exercise.

It did take several months before we were ready to submit our return in May 2014 and we were delighted to hear that we had been awarded full accreditation. Our museum was specially commended for its “user focused experiences” which was very satisfying.

I won’t pretend that it was an easy process but if you don’t panic and take all the help available you will have a real sense of achievement when you succeed. The benefits of accreditation, particularly for volunteer-run museums, include being eligible for small grants, access to SHARE training courses and the support of a Museum Mentor. Over the past few years our museum has received grants for various conservation materials, shop fittings, display cabinets, audio guides and electrical equipment which have all helped to improve standards and the experience we offer to visitors. Most importantly we received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2010 towards building our resource centre which has been a great asset to the museum.

We continue to look to the future with plans for some new audio interpretations in displays and a possible longer term plan for another extension. When accreditation comes around again in 2018 we hope to be well prepared.

For more information about Accreditation, contact your local Museum Development Officer and visit the Arts Council’s website. There are also useful resources available from SHARE Museums East, the South West Museums Federation and Collections Trust.