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Apr 16th 2021

A Day in the Life: Tamsin Chaffin, Trainee Curator at the Museum of Cornish Life


Welcome to our blog series, ‘A Day In The Life…’ which features individual working across CMP and our partner museums and what they get up to on a typical day at work.

Next up is Tamsin Chaffin, who recently joined the 2021 Trainee Curator programme with a position at the Museum of Cornish Life. Read on to hear about how Tamsin spends her time at the Museum of Cornish Life…

A selfie of a young woman with glasses, short brown curly hair and a cream jumper.

Starting my role as Trainee Curator in January 2021 meant starting a new job in lockdown. I was initially apprehensive about this and there were some challenges – adjusting to working from home and meeting new people over Zoom were both tricky. However, I quickly found there were some advantages (remembering lots of new names is much easier when they come up on the bottom of a screen!) Luckily, I had nothing to worry about as the teams across the Museum of Cornish Life and Cornwall Museums Partnership have been incredibly supportive and immediately made me feel welcome.

As a Trainee Curator, my role involves supporting the museum team across a wide range of projects. I joined the museum with a particular interest in exhibitions and have been able to do this digitally, helping to put together an online exhibition about Wendron Leats and Helston Kennels, as well as being involved in planning upcoming exhibitions to be held in the museum. In addition to this, in a few short months I’ve installed a pop-up QR Costume Trail in Coronation Park for Animate Helston, had lots of fun presenting and filming Museum Makes videos for our social media channels, and recently spent an afternoon setting up pest monitoring traps in the museum as part of the Pest Partners programme. No two days are the same and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck in to such a variety of tasks – although as I’m not a fan of creepy-crawlies I’m less looking forward to checking those pest traps in a month’s time!

A young woman wearing a mask sits as a wooden desk before a computer.

A young woman wearing a mask and gloves kneels before an old hearth, cleaning.

A key highlight of the traineeship so far came in March when the opportunity arose to bring my personal interests into my museum work. Anyone who knows me knows I can talk about cricket until the cows come home, and in a Collection Tour video about our cricket photographs I did just that! After finding some cricket related photographs in our archive I researched their stories and presented what I found in a live Collection Tour on Facebook. I particularly loved drawing out stories about women’s cricket in Cornwall. We have a photograph of the Porthleven Ladies’ team from 1949 on display in the museum, and digging into the Women’s Cricket Association archive I was able to connect this team to results from matches in 1950 and 1951 when they played Penzance Ladies’ Cricket Club.  I was incredibly excited to connect these dots and add to our knowledge of these local teams. As the subject is so close to my heart, I was overjoyed to hear responses from people who thought they didn’t like cricket but found something interesting in my tour and I feel encouraged to continue researching and communicating hidden histories in my museum career.

A historic photograph showing a team of young women - Porthleven Ladies’ cricket team from 1949

Overall, I feel privileged to have been involved in so many great projects in such a small amount of time and am hugely excited for what the rest of the traineeship brings. A main lesson I have learnt so far is that while the museum may be closed, that doesn’t mean that the work stops. I have been inspired by the commitment and creativity of the Museum of Cornish Life team to find ways to share stories and connect with people while the doors have been closed.

As we are planning to reopen in May, I’m looking forward to seeing the site in all its glory. I can’t wait to work alongside volunteers, meet visitors and finally see the museum without the objects covered up with dust sheets. Hopefully, as things improve, I’d also love to meet face-to-face with my fellow trainee curators, see the work that they have done with their organisations and perhaps take a better group photo for our twitter profile!

 

– Tamsin Chaffin, Trainee Curator at the Museum of Cornish Life