Hello I’m Laura,
After graduating last year with my BA Hons Fine Art I started volunteering at Ipswich Museums and have really enjoyed the experience. The collections they hold have always interested me and having been a visitor for many years I wanted to learn more about what they do behind the scenes.
I started this project as a Visitor Experience Volunteer in March 2018, where I began volunteering between Christchurch Mansion and Ipswich Museum. This role involved completing exit surveys with visitors and discussing their experiences about what they have enjoyed. Visitors are encouraged to suggest any improvements which they feel would help benefit the Museum. I also meet and greet customers and answer any queries they have about the exhibits.
At first, I was a little nervous about asking the public these questions, but after a few visitors I found it very interesting and loved doing the surveys. I found most people wanted to express their opinions after viewing the exhibitions. The public feedback is of a high standard and the overall praise is very good.
I have learnt so much more about the exhibitions from hearing other people’s interpretations and I have gained further IT skills from working on the tablet. This has helped develop my confidence through communicating with the public. My advice to someone thinking about volunteering on this project is to get hands on and have fun. I have found if you’re friendly and open to people they are more likely to feel comfortable talking to you.
In May I started as a Documentation Conversation Volunteer on the Military Uniforms. This is something I have always wanted to undertake and to be part of a team working behind the scenes. I have found the role totally fascinating and learnt so much about uniform regiments and their history.
I help to clean the uniforms and add details to the Excel database. I like to assist in cleaning and inventorying the cap badges as this is very interesting. This role is ideal for anyone who has an interest in history and wants to learn more about the collections at Ipswich Museums. This has been an amazing opportunity for me and I have seen the collections first hand and I especially enjoyed looking at the different styles of the uniforms and the detail in the patterns. I have been able to witness how professionals clean, protect and document rare garments, while learning about their history. Every day is different and being part of a small team means I can share my opinions with the group as they can with me.
As I have enjoyed this project so much I have started developing a short story “Love and War” told through my pencil drawings. The period which this is set is the late 17th- early 18th century in Ipswich. The main couple are torn apart as our hero must go and fight at war, only to discover that is wife has been kidnapped and he most return home to save her and his family home.