A week in the world of Museums…

by Kirsty McConnell

Kirsty, our hardworking volunteer, working away in the new collections staff office.

Kirsty, our hardworking volunteer, working away in the new collections staff office.

It’s Friday and I’ve got that TGIF feeling but it also feels like the end of an era – if you could call five days an era. I should explain. My name is Kirsty McConnell and I started at The Black Watch Castle and Museum as a volunteer for just one week. When I originally planned my week of service that I was required to arrange by my school way back in February the Museum was expected to be open by now, but the official opening had to be pushed back to next Tuesday. That makes this possibly the busiest week in both my and the Museum’s history.  Every night this week I have gone home tired and hungry but I’m not complaining because I have also felt fulfilled and with a sense of achievement. The work I have done over this past week has been varied and diverse whilst infinitely rewarding. During my time here I have been asked by a lot of people why here? Why The Black Watch Castle and Museum? There is one simple answer to this question. Why not? But actually the truth of the matter is the word castle. When I was told about it the word castle stuck in my mind and I said “CASTLE! I want to work in a castle! Castles are so cool and amazingly awesome all at once!” I’m not joking I really did say that. Then with a little more research I realised this really was the place for me.

So I suppose I should talk about what I have done in my time here – good thing I was required to make notes for school about what I have done because it’s been so whirlwind I can barely remember yesterday (which I forgot to make notes on – oops!).

Reading my notes on Monday it says that I went to the annual general meeting of the Tayside Museums Forum which was hosted by the Dunkeld Community Archive. Though many things were discussed at this meeting the thing that sticks in my mind (because it’s what I wrote in my notes) is that they discussed that they think that the public is not aware of most of the organisations which are members and that this is largely because they are not using social media to their advantage to communicate with the public. They have realised that this is because they don’t have the skills to do this in the best way so are looking into arranging a course on this topic. After that my notes trail off and end with the words “Not much happened after lunch.” That’s not true it is in fact code for “I wrote this on Tuesday night and can’t remember whatever almost certainly interesting thing I did.”

Tuesday.  I’ve always liked Tuesdays for no apparent reason and that’s probably why unlike Monday (never liked those) I can still remember that afternoon. But let’s be logical and start with the morning. Tuesday morning was spent hanging pictures on a wall. Just one – there was a lot of pictures. When you come to visit you will probably be able to tell which wall – the one that is nothing but pictures and when you see it you’ll say those pictures were hung by that amazing fantastically witty girl that wrote that blog. Then in the afternoon there was a lot of moving things around. Heavy things (with the aid of the fabulous, wonderful learning manager Rebecca – she sarcastically told me to write that but it’s true).

Wednesday was, again, a lot busier than my notes make it seem. The morning was mostly spent chopping up pieces of paper to the right size to fit in label holders to go in the temporary exhibition. This may not seem like a fulfilling task but it surprisingly was. Do you know who made the portraits of the queen that appear on bank notes and stamps? I do. So there I learned something! Then I went to set up the shop under the guidance of Lorna (a lovely lady with a lovely shop – a must visit) whilst there I put price labels on bags of chocolate – you buy chocolate, I probably priced it. There was a lot of that which made me hungry – so hungry that I had to buy some chocolate on the way home. Then I helped set up what my notes describe as a ‘fancy new cabinet’ (I drew a picture to pad out my notes but it’s not very good) that had just arrived, filling it with all sorts of things that are great gifts that come in a range of colours.

Now we come to Thursday, puts away notes and desperately tries to remember yesterday, yesterday the whole castle was abuzz with activity in preparation for the cocktail party to be hosted that night. The first event to be held since closing for the refurbishment, there was lots to do to make sure everything looked as fabulous as we wanted it to be. So the morning was spent with the most of the wonderful new staff making sure that the galleries were all clean and the display cases did not have grubby, nasty marks on them. They did but we got rid of them. Then the afternoon was spent cleaning in the kitchen area making sure it was ready for the night ahead which I hear went well.

Then we come to today, a day of reflection and teapots. I cleaned all the lovely white crockery and put it away neatly ready for the café opening. I mention teapots because there was so many of them – have the tea – it comes in pots. Then I wrote this listening to the intense background music which I think is on a loop but it doesn’t bother me because it has probably made me write faster. But before I finish there is one more person I need to thank and that is Emma. Emma is curator here at the museum and has been a guiding force throughout my week ensuring it has been busy and interesting. Her enthusiasm is infectious and you can tell she really loves the museum. She is the reason I came and the reason I wrote this blog (her enthusiastic “ooo! You could write a blog! Write a blog for us! Please!” made me genuinely want to write this. Lastly, I would like to say that the museum itself is a really great place and definitely worth more than one visit.

The new Black Watch Castle and Museum, with its first visitors on their way in!

The new Black Watch Castle and Museum, with its first visitors on their way in!

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About blackwatchmuseum

The Museum of The Black Watch offers an insight into one of the British Army's if not the world's most famous fighting units. Scotland's Black Watch is an elite military regiment whose history stretches back almost three centuries.
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