From volunteering to employment in the Museum sector


Nicola Moss during her time at The Black Watch Castle and Museum

Nicola Moss, our previous collection assistant, talks to us about the important role volunteering has in her path to becoming a museum curator…..

I’ve found all my volunteering experiences to be incredibly interesting and exciting. They have allowed me to face new challenges and have encouraged me to build upon my skills and knowledge that are really vital for a career in the museum sector.

Some many moons ago, with only an undergraduate in Fine Art and an interest in the curatorial aspects of running a gallery, I decided to volunteer as an Invigilator at several contemporary art galleries. These gave me the opportunity to get to grips with some of the basics of the cultural sector and with this experience under my belt, the ‘volunteering bug’ kicked in! As I was ever keen to get some more experience, I began to volunteer in more Front of House roles including as a Tour Guide and as a Film Festival Volunteer. All of this experience certainly proved worthwhile when in 2013, I was employed as a Visitor Assistant with The McManus in Dundee.

However, by now I was keen to develop my curatorial knowledge and ‘behind the scenes’ skills, so yet again, I began to look for some local volunteering opportunities. It was most certainly sheer luck that The Black Watch Castle and Museum were holding a volunteer recruitment drive while I was searching for these lucrative opportunities! I applied and was fortunate enough to be accepted as Volunteer and began to assist the Collections Assistant with some aspects of the collection.

This role allowed me to develop my knowledge of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in a museum such as preparing objects for movement and display, as well as labeling and packaging them for storage. One my many tasks involved an inventory of the picture store, which gave me the opportunity to learn about the different paintings and prints held in the Museum. I also helped to check the environmental monitoring equipment – which is a must for any museum or gallery to ensure that items are being looked after correctly. I absolutely adored this role and I was incredibly fortunate that I was able to successfully apply for the Collections Assistant role nearly a year later.

I developed a variety of different skills as Collections Assistant, which held me in good stead when I gained a Curator’s position earlier this year. In reality, without the wide range of experience that I gained through my various volunteering roles, I wouldn’t have gained the necessary experience and skills that are required for a post in the heritage sector. I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with so many wonderful organisations and I hope that others will continue to develop themselves through volunteering.



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Roll of Honour

3177 Pte Alexander BEGG 5th Bn. 29/09/1916
3795 Sgt John CARBERRY 4th Bn. 29/09/1916
S/40221 Pte Alexander McEWAN 1st Bn. 29/09/1916
4021 Pte Charles PATTERSON 4th Bn. 29/09/1916
S/43137 Pte James RUST 9th Bn. 29/09/1916
2210 Pte Thomas SMITH 4th Bn. 29/09/1916
6198 Pte George STRANG 4th Bn. 29/09/1916
3833 Pte Charles Bertram THWAITES 5th Bn. 29/09/1916
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Roll of Honour

S/40096 Sgt William SIME 1st Bn. 27/09/1916
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Roll of Honour

S/40201 Pte Andrew GIBSON 1st Bn. 26/09/1916
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My time as a Poppy Partner..

Gary Baker - single poppy

In early summer of 2016 by happy chance, I stumbled across a request for volunteers at the forthcoming Weeping Window: Poppies exhibition at the Black Watch Castle and Museum; I was thrilled. I had seen the poppies on television, but didn’t to London to see them at the Tower; didn’t even manage to buy a poppy on-line. Now they were coming to Perth and volunteers were required! “I can do that,” I thought. “I can be a Poppy Partner!”

In spite of the training provided for the team, I found my first stint as a Poppy Partner (Sunday afternoons in case you were wondering) confusing. We had appropriate sound effects from the Game Fair at Scone Palace! Nobody asked any of the questions we had been primed about. Instead they asked impossible ones about the renovation works in 2012/13 of which I knew nothing needless to say; or whether they could see so-and-so who worked at the museum.

My default position with impossible questions was to advise visitors to ask Museum staff in the shop. Some visitors who had long-standing connections with The Black Watch or the museum were able to help me! In the beginning I felt my Poppy Partner T-shirt should’ve read “Sorry, I can’t help you!” Other visitors were even more confused than me, on one occasion asking for tickets to the Highland Games, which were taking place on the North Inch. Glad to say I was able to redirect them to the right location. Fortunately, the Museum staff recognised this and organised tours of the museum for the Poppy Partners and put up poppy arrows inside and outside the museum to direct visitors to the different parts of the exhibition.

I took a little tour of all the elements of the poppies exhibition and the more I learnt, the more things improved. I was able to answer questions and actually help, taking photos of family groups in front of the poppies or minding dogs and bikes while their owners went in through the turret to see the room of remembrance and the video room with the wall of messages to a soldier.

The visitors were extraordinary. They came from all over Scotland and all over the world. Some came with purpose, to remember and reflect; others came by accident or out of curiosity. Some had seen the poppies in London, and Kirkwall and were planning to follow them around the UK. Some were frequent visitors both to the museum and to the poppies; for others it was their only opportunity before they returned to their distant homes. All were impressed. One older gentleman came with souvenirs of his ancestor who had fought in WW1. They were beautifully presented in a case and included the soldier’s last ration of black bread. Another, with a wicked sense of humour and a cherubic smile, earnestly assured me on his way out, that the museum staff had said he could have his donation back! In truth, the generosity of the visitors was overwhelming.
This summer will have long-lasting memories for me: from the opening ceremony in June with the children from Kinnoull Primary School singing songs from WWI to the terrible beauty of the poppies that seemed to grow with each Sunday I spent in their company. Soon the poppies will be gone. I shall miss them.

Colette, Poppy Partner

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Roll of Honour

T/2nd Lieut Peter Ross HUSBAND 25/09/1916
Capt William Debenham McLaren STEWART 25/09/1916
548 Pte William AITKEN 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40217 L Cpl Robert ALLAN 1st Bn. formerly 1380 H.C. Battn. 25/09/1916
1745 Pte William BREMNER MM 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/43391 Pte Charles BRUCE 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
3/4010 Pte George CALLAGHAN 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
3780 Pte William Grubb CALMAN 4/5th Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40165 Pte Duncan CAMPBELL 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/4357 Pte John CORNELIUS 9th Bn. 25/09/1916
S/43393 Pte Thomas CORRIGAN 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/14469 Pte Alexander CRAWFORD 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
3780 Pte William CULMAN 5th Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40239 Pte George Frederick DAWSON 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/9511 A/Sgt John H G DEANS 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/12685 Pte David EMSLIE 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40199 Pte Thomas FITZGERALD 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40030 Pte John FRASER 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40219 Pte John Logie GAUDIE 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40298 Pte Thomas A GILLON 1st Bn. formerly 1897 Scot. Horse. 25/09/1916
S/40118 Pte Alexander GRANT 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40316 Pte Robert HENDERSON 1st Bn. formerly 1771, Scottish Horse. 25/09/1916
3736 Sgt George KIDD 4th Bn. 25/09/1916
2629 Pte Harry KING 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40234 Pte Alexander LANG 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40039 Pte John LEE 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/9102 Pte Robert LINKSTON 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40306 Pte John Alexander MARSHALL 1st Bn. formerly 1962 Scottish Horse. 25/09/1916
S/12584 Pte Frederick Michael MAUDE 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/13074 Pte Alexander McDOUGALL 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40278 Pte Norman McLEOD 1st Bn. formerly 1620, Scot. Horse. 25/09/1916
S/40302 Pte Archibald McVICAR 1st Bn. formerly 1621 Scot. Horse. 25/09/1916
S/40089 Pte Robert MELDRUM 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/10086 Pte Rawdin MIDDLETON 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/43365 Pte James MITCHELL 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40059 Pte James MOFFAT 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40297 Pte John MURRAY 1st Bn. formerly 6312 Scot. Horse. 25/09/1916
S/40291 Pte Thomas NIXON 1st Bn. formerly 5199 Scot. Horse. 25/09/1916
S/14459 Pte John C PATON 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40086 Pte Norman L PATTERSON 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40040 Pte Alexander ROBERTSON 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/14439 Pte Daniel ROBERTSON 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
1523 Sgt James Paton ROBERTSON 4th Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40310 Pte David ROSS 1st Bn. formerly 6375 Scot. Horse. 25/09/1916
2486 Pte Andrew SANDEMAN 4th Bn. 25/09/1916
3/1477 Pte David Moore STEWART 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/11814 Pte Thomas TATE 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40203 Pte William THAIN 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/40060 Pte Archibald THOMSON 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/43331 Pte David WALDIE 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
S/43330 Pte Alexander WEBSTER 1st Bn. 25/09/1916
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Roll of Honour

S/9507 Pte Robert NIVEN 1st Bn. 24/09/1916
S/4092 Pte Peter ROBERTSON 1st Bn. 24/09/1916
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