Volunteer Spotlight: Merle Palmer, Collections Volunteer

This month we say hello to Merle who has kindly agreed to talk with us about her role and experiences as a volunteer.

Hello Merle, can you tell us how you heard about the volunteer opportunities at the Castle and Museum ?

Through the information day held at The Royal George Hotel.

What was it about the Castle and Museum that made you decide to volunteer here?

It seemed the ideal combination of an interesting role within a Museum that honours such a significant regiment both in historic terms and in the role it has played and continues to play, as a Battalion, in the local community.

Can you tell us about your volunteer roles?

Merle Palmer, collections volunteer, works on cataloguing the extensive photographic archive at the Museum.

Merle Palmer, collections volunteer, works on cataloguing the extensive photographic archive at the Museum.

I have two roles with in the Museum. I am a Collections Assistant which is difficult to describe as it such a varied role!  Initially after the Castle and Museum refurbishment the collection was moved to a new custom built store.  As part of the team of collections volunteers I helped move items and update the database with the new locations. This process included everything from hanging paintings, unpacking silver items, checking, cleaning and repackaging textiles and anything else that was needed. I have also helped catalogue newly donated items and reconcile physical items with the database. I am currently dedicating my time as part of the team cataloguing the vast photographic archive.

I also undertake the role of Events Assistant where I have helped out at a number of events such as lectures, Pipes and Drums night and most recently The Black Watch Reunion; the role has included serving food and drink and welcoming guests.

Thinking about your Collections role, what do you enjoy the most?

That is a very difficult question to answer as it has all been so interesting.  The variety of the role is very enjoyable and I have gained so much knowledge about cleaning and conserving objects. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to handle such a range of objects some of which have little financial value but tell incredibly personal stories.

What are the Museum events like? Would you recommend them?

Absolutely! They are always so well organised, involve great speakers and performers plus you get the opportunity to meet so many interesting people who attend the events.  It has also allowed me to get to know some of the other volunteers and staff.

If you had to pick your best moment during your time volunteering at the Castle and Museum, what would it be?

Difficult to rate anything as the best moment but if I have to pick one thing it would be helping prepare some of the objects for the Muskets, Khukris and Broadswords Exhibition.  It was a real privilege to help clean and prepare the weapons.  Handling them made me appreciate that many of these were beautifully crafted items.  It was also intriguing to consider their history, who had owned them and the conflicts they may have been involved in.

Has volunteering at the Castle and Museum met the expectations you had when you first arrived?

I wasn’t sure what to expect and I did worry that with no family connection to The Black Watch I might not be the right match for the role.  However, it has been a really positive and rewarding experience.  The staff always have the time (and the patience) to give help, support and training and to share their knowledge which makes every volunteering day both interesting, different and enjoyable.

Merle, thank you for letting us have an insight into your world of volunteering.


If you would like to find out more about volunteering at the Castle and Museum click here.


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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