Monday, 17 August 2015

My Week at the British Museum

Disclaimer: It's been a while since I wrote my last post as my one and only fan might have noticed (shout out to you mum!). Hence I had better get back into the swing of things, even if no-one reads these. Onwards and upwards!

As those who know me well are aware, I'm a bit of an ancient history geek. Therefore you can understand why I would jump at the chance to take part in the Numismatics (that's coins to you and I) summer school at the British Museum! The application process was fairly straightforward; you are required to provide a covering letter, a reference from your tutor and a copy of your CV. After suffering from horrible, HORRIBLE tonsillitis I managed to painstakingly write a cover letter (you can tell I'm really milking this) and eagerly awaited a response. To my surprise a month or two later I opened my emails to find those beautiful words: 'we are pleased to inform you...' and then it was all systems go. My tip if you're applying to any type of summer school or internship is to make sure your passion and enthusiasm really comes across; if anything it might be the thing to set you apart from the other contenders.

After weeks of waiting, on a rainy summer's day (typical) I set foot inside the BM and the awkward lurking had begun. Eventually a small group of about 10 of us had formed and we were whisked away to get our security passes, shortly followed by a welcome session. We were introduced to the enthusiastic department and were allowed to browse the galleries while getting acquainted with one another. I found everyone lovely to talk to and made some great companions over the week even though it was a tad daunting being one of the only first years there.

The week consisted of various lectures and a handful of practical sessions, all covering a range of time periods and cultures as well as the practicalities of analysing ancient coins. For someone who is not only interested in ancient history but also curating, this placement provided a unique insight into the level of detail when curating an exhibition - for example, at the BM in particular, artefact descriptions are limited to 50 words only! 

Although at times it was intensive I loved every moment of it; the people, the lectures and most of all - the coins! Just to be holding that tiny bit of history with such a story to tell is so poignant for me. I would definitely recommend the summer school if you want to know more about coins as it tells you more about this specific field than your lecturers have time for. As well as enriching subject knowledge, it looks amazing on your CV and allows you to understand more about the workings behind the scenes of a museum as opposed to if you were just a volunteer working front of house.


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