Building an Actively Anti-racist Culture at CMP

In May 2020, like so many other charities across the world, CMP recognised the need for institutional change regarding anti-racist work, both in the museums sector and in wider society. On 2 June 2020, we tweeted: “We echo the words of @museum_detox  – silence is an act of violence. We all have responsibility to the Black community who visit, who are employed and whose culture is on display in museums. Now is the time to be anti-racist.” We wanted to find a way to embed and operationalise anti-racism, beyond statements on social media. We created our Equity Action Planwhich we published on 24 July 2020We have reflected on our international responsibility as a charity; our Business Plan sets out our commitment to the UN Global Goals, including Goal 16, ‘to promote peace, justice and strong institutions’ and our anti-racism work fits within our broader commitment to support a tolerant and peaceful society. We’re sharing some of our actions and ambitions a year on.  

 

Acknowledging our privilege  

It’s important to us to recognise the institutional and systemic benefits many of the CMP team have benefitted from. This is an ongoing process; we are learning as individuals and as a team and often update our intentions to reflect our new understandings. We are open to feedback, discussion, and know we can always improve. The publication of our Equity Action Plan was the first step in recognising this. We are proud to be a female-led organisation, but our charity has not always reflected the society we operate in. We’ve collected and analysed our workforce data, including staff, trustees, volunteers and freelancers, to understand the makeup of our team and influence our recruitmentIn our most recent board recruitment, 60% of the applications we received were from people identifying with one or more protected characteristic we were targeting. We are working hard to understand and navigate the nuance of intersectionality of our privileges and have used Sylvia Duckworth’s Wheel of Power & Privilege as a starting point. Where we have privilege and power, we’ve challenged discrimination and advocated for policy change.   

 

A colourful pie chart graphic called 'The Wheel of Power/Privilege' showing power in the centre and the different categories affecting privilege around the outer edge.

 

Build relationships with trusted partners  

Collaboration is one of our charity’s values and it’s central to our work to partner with experts and other organisations. By partnering with organisations such as Black Voices Cornwall and the Black British Museum, we can ensure fresh perspectives on project development and our direction of travel. We’ve been very grateful for our partners’ support of CMP, openness to work together, and honest perspectives on our work and progress. We’ve signed Black Voices Cornwall’s Race Charter to demonstrate our commitment to making change in Cornwall.   

This has been a mutually beneficial relationship; we have learnt a lot from our partnership but have also brokered relationships with museums for Black Voices Cornwall and supported their growth as a powerful organisation in Cornwall. 

 

Make space for, amplify and fund non-white voices 

We’ve encouraged conversations through the Rural Diversity Network, led by people of colour, confronting race-based subjects, but also other pertinent to the museums sector. We want to recognise people of colour’s expertise on all types of topics.  

In October 2020, we secured Art Fund investment to deliver a project with Black Voices Cornwall and the Black British Museum, exploring contemporary and historic stories of Black people’s experiences in Cornwall. We will continue to resource and secure investment for this work as well as embed it in our core strands of work with partner museums. 

 

Bring our peers with us on the journey  

Through the Engagement Network, we’ve delivered free, open events tackling equity-based conversations, such as “Decolonisation: where to I begin?” with Dr. Tehmina Goskar and Shreya Sharma, and the Cornwall virtual ‘leg’ of Professor Dan Hicks’ Brutish Museums book tour. It’s important to us that we acknowledge the intersectionality and complexity of these issues which is why we’re also delivering sessions with partners like Queer Kernow, who supported the Disovering and Sharing LGBTQIA+ Items in Your Museum of Gallery Collection webinar in 2020. We’ve shared resources that we’re finding useful via our Equity Action Plan, newsletter, and social media channels. We’re proud of the work our museum partners are delivering to build additional knowledge about their collections and add new perspectives to their interpretation alongside their day to day. The ‘Under the Eaves’ project at the Museum of Cornish Life is continuing the work started via the Citizen Curators programmewhich is sharing new understandings of their collection in a series of blog posts

We’re working closely with The Space to test and develop bespoke Online Abuse training for our staff and the museums sector. This will ensure our team are better equipped to recognise, report, and navigate the increasingly complex world of social media. We’ve also reviewed our Marketing Strategy in light of this and implemented processes of promoting our work in a way that supports and protects the wellbeing of our Communications Team.  

 

Test new ways of working  

Innovation is one of our values, we’ve always been interested in testing new approaches. This year marks the end of our 3-year action research project, Citizen Curators, developed and delivered in partnership with Dr. Tehmina Goskar of the Curatorial Research Centre. We’ve been able to understand and explore new, inclusive volunteering opportunities with our partner museums. We’ll be sharing more about the conclusions of Citizen Curators before the end of this year.  

We’ve also tested new ways of recruiting staff and trustees for our charity, to make the process more inclusive. This includes:  

  • FAQ videos for prospective applicants 
  • Anonymous shortlisting  
  • Guaranteed interview scheme 
  • Task-based applications  
  • Explicitly stating our interest in hiring people from a diverse range of backgrounds in our advertisements.  

 

What next?  

Our Equity Action Plan is reviewed regularly at Team Meetings and by our Board of Trustees. We want to continue working on, and investing in, anti-racism and equity work. We want to maintain the relationships we’ve built in the past year and continue providing reflective opportunities for our workforce as well as the wider museums sector in Cornwall. For the next year, we’ll also be focusing on:  

  • Delivery of our Rural Diversity Network project with Black Voices Cornwall and the Black British Museum project.  
  • Review our workforce data and embed inclusive recruitment practices that we’ve tested.  
  • Deliver training and development for our Board and staff, including the continued development of the Online Abuse training with The Space.  
  • To embed equity into the development of our programmes, especially with our Partner museums.  

 

– Charlotte Morgan, Collaborative Programmes Manager

Archivist – Wheal Martyn Clay Works

Job opportunity: Archivist (fixed term project)

Wheal Martyn Trust in Cornwall is seeking an experienced Archivist to deliver a 12 month project which is a vital next step in safeguarding one of Cornwall’s most significant industry archives.  It is an exciting opportunity to play a key role in the pursuit of the Trusts vision for its archive, supported by an enthusiastic team of volunteers.  The project involves the relocation of an extensive archive relating to Cornwall’s largest mining industry (china clay) to its museum site, Wheal Martyn, on the edge of St. Austell.

The post is funded by HM Treasury through The National Archives (TNA) Covid-19 Support Fund and will help to address the immediate risks that are posed to the long term security and preservation of the collection, which have been compounded by the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wheal Martyn is the only museum of china clay in Europe and is set amongst the preserved remains of two former Victorian china clay works.

A copy of the job description and application form can be downloaded here:
Archivist – Job Description – July 2021

WM_Application_form

Applications close at noon on Monday 2 August 2021 with interviews anticipated to take place in the week commencing 9 August 2021.  Wheal Martyn offers a flexible approach to recruiting and if you have any questions about the post please contact recruitment@wheal-martyn.com and someone will be in touch.

2020 Cornwall Heritage Awards – Trophy Road Trip Part 1 

In this new blog series, join our Museum Development Officer, Stephanie Clemens, as she travels around the Duchy delivering some much-awaited certificates and plaques to the winners of the 2020 Cornwall Heritage Awards! Following our virtual awards ceremony in October we are thrilled to now be able to deliver these awards to their recipients in person this Summer. Buckle up and join us for the road trip…

A line of six people stand smiling, three hold blue Cornwall Heritage Awards plaques - from the awards ceremony at Mary Newman's Cottage, Saltash.

2020, do we really need to look back again? Well, yes, because there were some great things that happened, and among them was the online celebration for the Cornwall Heritage Awards entrants and winners. We managed a bit of glitz and glamour, we managed celebratory food and drink, we managed speeches and we even managed a convivial atmosphere, but one thing we couldn’t do was hand over the trophies and certificates. Posting them out seemed a bit underwhelming and lacking in photo opportunities, so we optimistically planned to hand deliver the trophies after the event. Unfortunately, we were thwarted by subsequent lockdowns and our hopes of road tripping from Porthcurno to Bude receded into the distant future. 

But, with restrictions lifted and vaccines rolled out, it’s finally happening, and I’m delighted to say three of our fabulous winners are now able to display their trophies and certificates. And what a way to start off our trophy road trip in Saltash: the incredible volunteers at the Tamar Protection Society certainly know how to put on a good afternoon tea party!

Our Marketing Intern, Natalie, and I headed up to Mary Newman’s Cottage to congratulate both TPS and their neighbours Saltash Heritage on their wins. In the beautiful rose-filled Tudor garden, I was able to present TPS with their award for Best Festival, Event or Exhibition for their Tudor Afternoon event. TPS had put on this event to make the most of the unique atmosphere at Mary Newman’s Cottage and to draw in new audiences to experience a bit of Tudor life for themselves. It was a great success and they received lots positive feedback – do look out for more Tudor events in the future. The musicians who played at the original event had been invited back for the trophy presentation, which certainly gave the afternoon a very appropriate celebratory flair. Gerry Sweet of TPS said, “The Heritage Awards are a splendid way to showcase the rich and diverse collection of heritage organisations working throughout Cornwall. We at the Tamar Protection Society were thrilled and honoured to be recognised as the winner in the Best Event category for our Tudor Afternoon at Mary Newman’s Cottage, Saltash. The award has spurred us on to develop other events in order to attract a different and more varied audience.” This is completely what the Awards are about! 

Two people in Tudor dress stand in a blue gazebo in a garden and play on old instruments.

I also had the pleasure of presenting Saltash Heritage with their Award for Wellbeing. Both TPS and Saltash Heritage are entirely volunteer run, and Saltash Heritage entered the Heritage Awards with a gold-standard approach to showing appreciation for their valued volunteers. Following a previous Heritage Awards win (they are no strangers to excellence), the committee devised ‘The Puzzle” – a jigsaw where each piece represented one of the 65 volunteers within the board of the museum. They were told that if even just one piece of that puzzle were missing, the museum would not be working to its full potential.  Even better, every volunteer was surprised at their annual after-Christmas party that year with a silver puzzle piece to attach to their lanyards: a constant reminder of their value and collective dedication to the museum. Lizzy Sharpe-Asprey, Hon Secretary, said: “Holding the latest award I felt my team worked beautifully together to produce the end result, of lots of tears and hugs, that just made it for us. We will proudly place the new award on our museum wall for everyone to admire.”  

One of the highlights of our afternoon in Saltash was the privilege of meeting a young volunteer from Saltash Heritage. Robert John Barrett received a Highly Commended certificate in the One To Watch category, which aims to say thank you to all the young volunteers who give their time to museums and heritage organisations in Cornwall. Robert, who is Autistic, has undertaken two incredible pieces of work to make a photographic record of Fore Street and to work his way through the museum’s collections photographing the 3D objects and scanning archive documents. Both of these activities contribute to the long term understanding and celebration of Saltash’s history. Robert has become part of the Saltash Heritage team, developing his social skills and growing in confidence in a workplace environment. The rest of the team have gained experience and understanding of autism and have become advocates for the many positives of having a person with autism on board. Robert, his family and the museum team speak openly about autism and it’s inspiring to hear their positivity.  As extra recognition, Robert received a certificate from the Mayor of Saltash. The week after the presentation, Robert’s father Andrew gave this reflection: “Describing his feelings and emotions is difficult for Autistic people like Robert, but I have spoken with him and he is proud of his awards and enjoyed the afternoon and tea.” I’d venture that Saltash is very proud of him too. 

A wooden and blue awards plaque reads 'Cornwall Heritage Awards 2020; Wellbeing; Wheal Martyn Clay Works'

Our second trophy drop was to Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum, where I was able to present another Award for Wellbeing. Over the 18 months prior to the Heritage Awards, staff at Wheal Martyn had worked with a range of partners (Heritage Ability, Sensory Trust, Spectrum, Brannel School and Badger Forrest School) to make a number of interventions onsite to improve inclusivity for both visitors and staff and volunteers. Improvements to the site’s accessibility have included creating an easy read guide for people with learning difficulties, making Wheal Martyn a registered ‘safe place’ if people need help when out in their local area, as well as creating BSL clips and installing a hearing loop for visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing. They have also created visual stories, sensory backpacks and made a designated quiet zone to assist visitors with autism, anxiety and other associated conditions. They introduced a relaxed session in the museum which received fantastic feedback from the families who attended and who have since returned to explore the site further. 

They have found that improving access has not only helped the group it was intended for, but has improved the experience for other visitors as well. They have continued in their efforts to make Wheal Martyn as welcoming as they can and give all their visitors the best experience possible. The regular Memory Café and Arts and Crafts for Health sessions are well established and the museum’s ethos of inclusivity has become embedded in their practice. It was a pleasure to deliver this trophy to some of the wonderful staff and volunteers. 

The most wonderful thing about delivering the trophies has been finally being able to meet everyone in person nearly a year after I came to CMP. Thank you to everyone at Tamar Protection Society, Saltash Heritage and Wheal Martyn for being so welcoming and so utterly brilliant at what they do. 

Three trophies down, eight to go. Our road trip continues over the summer… 

 

– Stephanie Clemens, Museum Development Officer

Saltash Photo Credits: Bruce Hunt 

 

Captaining the Ceres – the Bude Coastal Timetripping Experience

In this latest guest blog by wAVE Digital Marketing Intern, Magali Guastalegnanne, we learn more about the Coastal Timetripping experiences developed by the wAVE (Augmented and Virtual Experiences) Project. These blogs are a chance to give a deeper insight into the location, development, as well as the history that inspired the Coastal Timetripping experiences. We will examine both the technology used for the experiences, and the cultural inheritance of the area that they focus on. This blog will be focusing on the Bude Castle and Heritage Centre’s experience – ‘Captaining the Ceres’.

Two women walk past the large exterior of a pale brick Victorian building - the Castle Bude.

The Bude Castle and Heritage Centre is a castle built by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney in 1830. The museum is divided into themed areas which represent key elements of Bude’s cultural heritage, including the fascinating history behind the castle itself. We worked closely with the Heritage Centre to develop the ideas behind this experience, as well as to create the space where the Timetripping experience would be set up. ‘Captaining the Ceres’ uses virtual reality to simulate the experience of taking the helm of the old merchant ketch, the Ceres, and then guiding her safely into Bude’s iconic canal. This experience was developed with two parts of Bude’s history in mind – the canal and the Ceres herself.

Bude canal, in the 19th century, was a unique and world-renowned engineering feat that became the beating heart of Bude’s trade and commerce. It was built in 1823 to transport Bude’s mineral-rich sand further inland where soil was poor. The magnitude of this project was incredible. When it was first built the canal stretched for thirty-five miles and cost £118,000 to build – an incredible amount of money at the time. For all its ingenuity, the treacherous rocks the ship had to pass before it could even enter the canal took real skill to navigate. Though a surviving film clip of the Ceres gliding into the canal, that helped inspire Bude’s Timetripping experience, may make it look easy (you can watch the film here at 4.00). The Ceres has an interesting and lengthy history. Built in 1811 she began life as a fruit trading vessel between Spain and England, and even went onto serve in the Peninsula war. She was then sold to a Bude family and was handed down for three generations, until she fatefully went down in 1936 at the grand old age of 125 – an impressive age for a wooden ship created before the era of metal and steam, and that had continuously done service.

A model historic ship in a tank at the Bude Castle Heritage Centre.

This was the inspiration for Bude’s Coastal Timetripping experience, which was developed by Falmouth University. The greatest challenge, as well as one of the main appeals of the experience, was the hours of work that went into creating a detailed but large coastline complete with significant landmarks. As visitors sail the Ceres they will have the chance to see Bude from a new viewpoint, and familiar landmarks that they may have seen before or find after the experience, like Compass Point, Barrel Rock, and the breakwater are given a unique angle and perspective. Many of these landmarks were more than mere points of interest in the 19th century, they were important markers by which sailors could safely navigate their way past the coast and into the canal. Even the entry into the canal, and functioning of the lock, have been carefully designed to operate exactly as they would’ve done, so that visitors can gain an understanding of this central part of Bude’s history.

A young woman with dark curly hair holds a ship's steering wheel attached to a wall and wears a large black VR headset - an immersive technology experience at the Castle Bude.

If you’re interested, you can try the Bude Coastal Timetripping experience for yourself at the Bude Castle Heritage Centre by booking a place here. There is a booking system in place to make sure Covid-19 regulations are followed, as the virtual reality headsets are sterilised using UV rays, which kill bacteria and viruses, including Covid-19, between visitors. There is space for two people at a time, one of which is designed to be wheel-chair friendly. If you’d like to know more about the wAVE project, then you can check out our webpage here. Or you can watch the film which we created about wAVE here.

 

– Magali Guastalegnanne, wAVE Digital Marketing Intern

 

You can find out more about the other immersive experiences on the official Coastal Timetripping website.

Jan van Huysum Visits: Dutch Masterpiece Comes to Cornwall

PRESS RELEASE

A painting of a full vase of colourful painted flowers

Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) is delighted to announce its partnership with the National Gallery and Concern Wadebridge to welcome Jan van Huysum Visits to Cornwall following the positive response to Artemisia Visits in 2019.

As part of a tour of six locations across the nation this summer, Van Huysum’s magnificent Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736–7) will pop up in unusual or unexpected non-museum venues; locations include a food bank and community library, a covered market, a former department store and community centres.  Besides Cornwall, the painting will also visit Norfolk, the East Midlands, South Yorkshire, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Jan van Huysum Visits is part of the National Gallery’s national partnerships exhibition programme, which aims to share paintings across the UK, creating a range of ways for the widest possible audience to explore and be inspired by the collection. Each display will explore one of six ‘Ways to Wellbeing’: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give, and Care (for the Planet).

The Sir John Betjeman Centre in Wadebridge has been chosen as an excellent location for the exhibition as a community hub that supports people over 50 or who have a disability, and a special place of intergenerational connection. Flowers in a Terracotta Vase, which shows over 30 species of flowers and plants in bloom, will be on display for public viewing at the Sir John Betjeman Centre from Tuesday 8th to Sunday 13th June 2021 between the hours of 9am and 4pm, with the exception of Saturday 12th June when the centre will be open from 9am to 2pm.

Jeremy Rowe, Manager of Concern Wadebridge, said: ‘Concern Wadebridge is delighted to be able to welcome the National Gallery to the John Betjeman Centre. A love of the arts is embedded in this part of Cornwall and it will be a wonderful opportunity for the community to be able to see such a fantastic piece at such close quarters.’

CMP’s purpose is to achieve positive social change with museums and their collections; by working with community partners such as the Sensory Trust, Concern Wadebridge and the Memory Café network, as well as local schools and community groups, CMP believes this tour could have a far-reaching legacy  and will positively impact Cornish communities well beyond Wadebridge.

Emmie Kell, CEO at Cornwall Museums Partnership, commented: ‘When we were approached by the National Gallery, we were delighted to accept their invitation to work in partnership. Our charity is committed to creating positive social change with museums and we believe that this project demonstrates how art can promote health and wellbeing, creating opportunities for communities to connect and create together. We hope that this partnership will be the catalyst for more of the country’s national collections being available for the people of Cornwall to learn about and enjoy’.

At the heart of Jan van Huysum Visits is engagement with local communities. In each setting the Gallery is working closely with the venue as well as a local museum or gallery to ensure that as many people as possible can engage with the painting and make it come alive in new and different ways.

National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says, ‘This astounding, large flower painting will make an unexpected appearance in unexpected venues across the country. I hope it will make people think about art and the beauty of nature, encourage their own creativity and inspire them to visit their own local museum or art collection.’

CMP have been working locally with children and young people to develop alternative interpretative labels to accompany the painting. Trainee Curators, who are part of a programme funded by the John Ellerman Foundation offering paid internships to five young people at Cornish museums, have also been lucky to work alongside the National Gallery to produce the official interpretation which will accompany the piece.

The National Gallery has also provided resources for local primary and secondary schools in Wadebridge to interact with the tour and build a visit to the masterpiece into their curriculum.

As part of our commitment to creating a more inclusive sector, CMP has worked hard to ensure that the impact of this tour will be felt beyond Wadebridge. Collaborating with the Sensory Trust, CMP hopes to facilitate increased engagement with the exhibition by delivering resource packs to 10 care homes and 10 primary schools in remote locations across Cornwall so that those whose cannot visit the Dutch masterpiece in person are nonetheless able to interact with and benefit from the tour.

Ellie Robinson-Carter, Creative Spaces Project Officer at the Sensory Trust, commented: ‘At the Sensory Trust we thrive on creating opportunities for people to access the outdoors and connect with nature in sensory-rich, creative ways. This exciting project is a fantastic and unique opportunity for our beneficiaries to connect with nature, themselves and one another, greatly expanding their sense of community. This year has taught us what is possible when shifting the focus to remote engagement, despite all the challenges, and this project will be the perfect way of sharing and adding to this learning even more’.

Wadebridge Memory Café, which supports people living with memory loss to live well, is also really looking forward to Jan Huysum Visits, and is planning to organise groups to sit with the painting and talk about what they see. The Café have not been able to meet physically since March 2020 so for many this will be the first opportunity to meet with friends back at the John Betjeman Centre. There is lots of research to show that looking and engaging with pictures is helpful for those with memory loss; this is something the group have been doing regularly through their Memory Cafe Online events over the past year.

This project is supported by Art Explora – Académie des Beaux-Arts Award

Insurance has been gifted by Blackwall Green

 

You can view the full press release and notes to editors as a PDF here: National-Gallery-Press-Release

Image Credit:

Jan van Huysum
Flowers in a Terracotta Vase
1736-7
Oil on canvas, 133.5 x 91.5 cm
Bought, 1869
NG796

A Day in the Life: Eilish Calnan, Citizen Curator at Wheal Martyn

Welcome to our blog series, ‘A Day in the Life…’ which features individuals at CMP and our partner museums and what they get up to on a typical day at work. Next up is Eilish Calnan, a participant of the 2021 Citizen Curators programme with a placement at Wheal Martyn Clay Works.

Citizen Curators is a free work-based training programme in museum awareness and modern curatorial practice aimed at volunteers from our community. The programme is provided by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with seven museums, with the main goal of providing a new form of meaningful museum participation. The programme is led by Dr. Tehmina Goskar, Curator and Director of the Curatorial Research Centre. 

Read on to learn more about Eilish’s experience of the programme so far

A landscape of green hills and blue sky with a historic chimney in the foreground - taken at Wheal Martyn Clay Works, St Austell

My name is Eilish Calnan and I am currently taking part in Citizen Curators, run by Cornwall
Museums Partnership in conjunction with the Curatorial Research Centre. The programme aims
to democratise the curation process, as well as provide training on curating and a space to learn
and discuss the issues currently facing the act of curating and the wider museum world. I have
just finished my BA in History at the University of Exeter, here in Cornwall on the Penryn
campus, and have been deeply interested in museum studies; as well as Celtic Studies with a
particular focus on Cornwall and Ireland, and so I grabbed the opportunity to work with Wheal
Martyn Museum in St Austell!

Wheal Martyn is the world’s only known museum dedicated to the material China Clay, also
known as kaolin clay. Mining is intimately linked with the history of Cornwall, but most people
focus on the tin and copper mining of West Cornwall, with the striking engine houses
overlooking rocky cliffs and turbulent seas; many forget the history of China Clay in East
Cornwall. Wheal Martyn tells the story of the mine which shares the museum’s name, but also
the wider story of China Clay, from mining to refining, to the products made possible by China
Clay and the stories of the workers. This year’s Citizen Curator project focuses on the latter; the
lives of China Clay workers, then and now. This project piqued my interest for its link to
industrial heritage, but not the typical Cornish story, and for the social history aspect. To me,
social history is the most interesting aspect of the past; it is the element of history that allows us to emphasise and emote with people who lived before us and often in industrial history, this is the missing element. The Citizen Curators, under the guidance of Sian Powell, aim to fill in this blank and tell the stories of the people who worked in China Clay, rather than just the processes used to extract the material.

A landscape showing the outline of hills in the background against a darkening evening sky, with a pool in the foreground reflecting the sky and clouds - taken at Wheal Martyn Clay Works, St Austell

Of course, a blog post about this year’s Citizen Curator Programme would not be complete
without a mention of the COVID-19 pandemic, a barrier and a blessing. I’m based in Falmouth
and realistically, had the programme not been online, I would not have been able to take part in
it since Wheal Martyn is a good distance away from me, but the disadvantage of not really being
able to physically engage with the history of the China Clay workers has been present. My main
resource has been the Cornish Memory website, where there is a huge wealth of photographs
from Wheal Martyn, as well as a number of other collections. The British Newspaper Archive
has also been helpful, as has the help of the China Clay History Society. Being restricted to
online resources has really been a learning curve but luckily, the sessions led by Tehmina
Goskar have been incredibly helpful in advising on how to navigate the world of online research.

My specific research has been quite broad, rather than looking at a specific element such as
women at Wheal Martyn, I have sought information on the simple everyday life of the workers.
What did people do in their free time, how did they celebrate occasions and what was life like
once the working day was over? Tug of war and other sports as well as brass bands and going
to church all played a part in the life of China Clay workers. Myself and the other Citizen
Curators are currently in the process of working out the logistics of presenting our research,
which is super exciting and it’s so lovely to be interacting with people (and the past) in real life!

More about my experience with the Citizen Curators Programme (as well as Celtic and public
history, and the perils of job hunting in Cornwall!) can be found on my Twitter account
@historyeilish

 

– Eilish Calnan, Citizen Curator at Wheal Martyn Clay Works

A Neurodiverse Experience of Citizen Curators

Citizen Curators is a free work-based training programme in museum awareness and modern curatorial practice aimed at volunteers from our community. The programme is provided by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with seven museums, with the main goal of providing a new form of meaningful museum participation.

The programme is led by Dr. Tehmina Goskar, Curator and Director of the Curatorial Research Centre. In this guest blog by Joana Varanda, a 2021 Citizen Curator with a placement at Wheal Martyn Clay Works, we hear about her reflections and experience of the programme  from a neurodiverse perspective…

This year, we will say goodbye to Citizen Curators – a programme delivered by Cornwall Museums Partnership and the Curatorial Research Centre for the past four years, which gave people who had little or no experience of working in museums a chance of experiencing this sector.

In my case, all my life I had known that I wanted to work in a museum or a library, but had found myself impeded from fully accomplishing that for multiple reasons such as a working-class background, migration, and disability. Similarly to Katie Sawyer, one of last year’s Trainee Curators, I am diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – also known as ME/CFS, a post-viral long term illness akin to what we know today as Long Covid.

I am also Autistic, which means that despite having equivalent experience in the sector through paid work, volunteer work and internships in both heritage sites and museums (as well as a BA with Honours), I have never gone beyond a large number of failed applications to entry-level roles. In fact, when I eagerly contacted Dr Tehmina Goskar, Programme Leader and Director of the Curatorial Research Centre, thinking Citizen Curators would be the perfect opportunity for me to finally break into the sector, she initially deemed me over-qualified to undertake this programme. I have also been told on occasion I am over-qualified to study for a Master’s degree and there is no reason why I shouldn’t be working in a museum right now.

Except that, according to last year’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Population Survey, Autistic people have the lowest employment rate from a range of those with various disabilities, as only 21.7% of Autistic people were found to be in any kind of employment. Autistic individuals who are in work are also prone to be under-paid, under-employed, and poorly supported, meaning that this percentage could be significantly different considering the amount of Autistics who might be in some kind of work, yet are too weary of disclosing their diagnosis – as well as those who have struggled through neurotypical life with no idea they were actually Autistic.

A bar char entitled 'Disabled People with Autism were among those disabled people with the lowest employment rate'

I am the latter, as I did not realise I was Autistic until last year, when I started to experience difficulties in adult life such as finding skilled work. I developed application-fatigue due to filling out form after form, and an increased awkwardness at interviews due to social anxiety. When I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, everything finally made sense, and I naively began to disclose my circumstances early on in applications, in order to avoid repeating past traumas such as bullying. And here I was, exactly the same person as I had been before, capable of always landing the first and only job I applied to, waiting, and waiting, and never hearing back from anyone. Becoming aware of my boundaries had suddenly stigmatised me, as some recruiters still believe Autistic people are childish, unprofessional and incompetent.

But thankfully, the Citizen Curators programme had none of that stigma. For one, due to the pandemic, this year’s final instalment of the course was delivered remotely, with sessions taking place online on a work-from-home basis – something which disabled people had been trying to attain for decades. The programme was also delivered completely without pressure of achieving something, except to learn as and when participants felt capable of doing so, as lockdown has been hard on everyone. But most importantly, all of the small adjustments that I asked for in order to accommodate both my ME/CFS and Autism were immediately heard by Dr Tehmina, such as an additional break dividing the two-hour session into three parts instead of two, and being able to keep my camera off for the most part and participate in discussions via chat instead.

A panorama landscape image showing the exterior buildings of Wheal Martyn Clay Works - a large round white visitor centre as well as historic stone remains of the clay works.

Wheal Martyn Clay Works, where Joana is working as a Citizen Curator

Participating in Citizen Curators and being heard and valued despite my need for adjustments brought me a sense of accomplishment I had not felt in a really long time. As Katie Sawyer demonstrated in her blog post, it isn’t that hard to accommodate someone disabled in a workplace, and being neurodiverse is no different. For instance, adjusting noise and light due to sensory sensitivity, providing a place to rest and recuperate from activity, and reducing social interaction (which are overlaps that happen to coincide with both ME/CFS and Autism) have been proven to be easily achievable by Bodmin Keep.

Likewise, Citizen Curators has demonstrated that it is perfectly possible to diversify workforces and change judgements. And although we are saying goodbye to this programme, we are also saying hello to a wealth of new job applicants with various skills and viewpoints that will make museums even more inclusive and accessible to both their visitors and staff. Now that the pandemic has left so many with long-term conditions, it is also the perfect moment to let go of stigmas and stop equating disability with incapability, incompetence or lack of dedication.

 

Joana Varanda, 2021 Citizen Curator at Wheal Martyn

 

Further Reading:

MuseuDiverse, A Citizen Curators’ Blog: https://museudiverse.wordpress.com/

Katie Sawyer’s blog post on the CMP blog: https://www.cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk/chronically-katie-my-experience-as-a-disabled-trainee-curator/

ONS Annual Population Survey 2020: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/disability/articles/outcomesfordisabledpeopleintheuk/2020#employment

National Autistic Society on the ONS Survey: https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/news/new-data-on-the-autism-employment-gap

Autistica on the ONS Survey: https://www.autistica.org.uk/news/autistic-people-highest-unemployment-rates

BBC on Autistic workers: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20160106-model-employee-are-autistic-individuals-the-best-workers-around

Ann Memmott, Autistic Activist: http://annsautism.blogspot.com/2018/04/autism-mythbusting-employment.html

Autism in Museums: https://www.autisminmuseums.com/

Fair Museum Jobs: https://fairmuseumjobs.org/

Show the Salary: https://showthesalary.com/

Reboot Cornwall Launches as Museums Reopen

PRESS RELEASE

A young woman wears a large black virtual reality headset

  • Poll finds region’s museums in optimistic spirits, despite the challenges of lockdown, as they reopen to the general public

  • 89 percent think pandemic has accelerated need to innovate; 79 percent actively exploring technology to enhance visitor experiences

  • Museums feel the role of heritage institutions has undergone a significant shift, with more emphasis on community outreach, tackling loneliness and greater inclusivity

  • Reboot Cornwall initiative launched to support and celebrate region’s rich museum and heritage sector and showcase examples of innovative visitor experiences

The need for museums to innovate and harness the power of technology has been rapidly accelerated by the global pandemic, a survey by the Cornwall Museums Partnership reveals today.

As they reopen to the public, 79 percent of museums and heritage venues in Cornwall claimed they are now actively exploring how technology can help them to futureproof their offering, while 89 percent said the pandemic had dramatically accelerated the need to innovate.

The biggest concerns affecting museums in Cornwall in the lead up to reopening, have been logistical issues such as space, capacity and social distancing (86 percent concerned) and funding issues and economic uncertainty (78 percent concerned). Roughly half of the respondents reported feeling anxious about permanent closure, reduced opening hours and job losses.

A young boy leans over a toy station which is glowing with red and blue lights

 

But overall, Cornish museums are buoyant and optimistic about the future. Although 82 percent anticipate that the pandemic has changed visitor expectations of museums in some way, 92 percent are reportedly feeling positive about the future prospects of their own venues, and the wider cultural sector in Cornwall,

When asked about their impact in a post-pandemic world, 79 percent of museums said they envisage playing more of an active role within local communities. Many expect a high level of contribution to education and youth development (89 percent) and to tourism and economic recovery (79 percent), while others highlighted the important role cultural venues will play in tackling loneliness (67 percent) and leading the way towards a more inclusive culture (60 percent).

To welcome visitors back, museums across the county are launching a range of new and innovative experiences, incorporating the latest in AI, machine learning and immersive technologies, as part of Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Reboot Cornwall initiative. Supported by the University of Exeter, the initiative is designed to shine a spotlight on some of the most exciting and pioneering visitor experiences being developed by the region’s museums and heritage venues.

Emmie Kell, CEO at Cornwall Museums Partnership, commented: “This study shows that Cornish museums have shown both great adaptability and resilience in the face of tremendous adversity. Attitudes around heritage, new technology and the role of museums as important hubs in their local communities are evolving very rapidly in Cornwall and it’s exciting to see our museums leading the way for both innovation and greater inclusivity. We are really excited to be launching the Reboot Cornwall initiative, to get behind our museum and heritage sector as it gets back on its feet and showcase some of the fantastic experiences being offered to visitors in the coming months.

Julia Twomlow, Creative Director and CEO of PK Porthcurno – Museum of Global Communications, added: “More than ever, we have come to understand and appreciate the vital role of new technology in keeping people connected, safe and working. As a museum in a rural location, we believe we have an important part to play, using our history, expertise, buildings and resources to help revitalise and strengthen our community as we emerge from the pandemic. New technology will be a key part of this new way of working.”

Senior members and leaders at over half of all Cornish museums took part in the survey, which was carried out by Cornwall Museums Partnership to examine how the pandemic has impacted on the heritage sector in Cornwall and explore how new technology will reshape visitor experiences when tourists can return to the Duchy this spring and summer.

To find out more about the Reboot Cornwall initiative and to discover some of the region’s most innovative visitor experiences in museums, visit https://www.museumsincornwall.org.uk/rebootCornwall/ and follow the #RebootCornwall hashtag on Twitter.

Citizen Curator Research: Eisenhower in Bodmin!

[Original blog on the Bodmin Keep website]

Did you know that General Dwight D. Eisenhower – US Army five-star general and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, spent time in Cornwall and visited Bodmin on multiple occasions during the Second World War? Read on to find out more from Sarah Silbereis – a valued member of the 2021 voluntary Citizen Curator programme at Bodmin Keep.

A black and white image of General Eisenhower talking to a US army troop in camouflage gear and face paint; surrounded by a crowd of onlookers.

For me, the Citizen Curator Programme lit a spark that had lain dormant for some time. I have always enjoyed exploring history and believe that we must strive to understand our past to shape our future wisely. I have a family history of involvement with the RAF so have always been interested in military history. Having married an American, I have had the opportunity to visit some fantastic military museums ‘on the other side of the pond’, which developed my interest further. During lockdown, this programme has enabled me to forge a link with my heritage whilst delving into aspects of it that I never previously knew existed. Carrying out historical research without visiting an actual museum or archive (or even leaving my home) seemed an impossible feat at first. However, the very situation which prevented in-person networking amongst our small team of Citizen Curators has allowed us to access museum artefacts and eyewitness accounts in a variety of new ways. Artefacts are being catalogued by curators and made accessible online which means they can be explored from home. The ways in which we give history its voice are adapting, as are we, to this new world.

MY RESEARCH
Black and white image of General Eisenhower stood on a hill overlooking an army camp in Bodmin, Cornwall.

General Eisenhower and General Patton reviewing US troops at Bodmin, England Credit: Combat History of the 137th Infantry Regiment

I began my research with three photographs of General Dwight D. Eisenhower inspecting troops at Bodmin Barracks on an unknown date in 1944. Little did the people shown in these photographs know that, after the war, he would hold America’s highest office as President of the United States of America. In 1944 – 45 however, Eisenhower was responsible for planning and supervising the successful invasion of Normandy from the Western Front, under the code name ‘Operation Overlord’.

What surprised me during my research was the heavy concentration of D-Day preparations in Cornwall. The 35th Infantry Division alone would have incorporated more than 16 000 men, spread across the South West. When one division was sent off to France, another would sweep in to replace it and the process would start all over again. I cannot imagine what these young men must have felt, leaving New York bound for Liverpool in 1944. The convoy of ships was estimated at around 200 vessels! The men of the 35th Division travelled by train to Exeter before being stationed in several local communities. Major Norman C. Carey of the 320th Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 35th Infantry Division, commented on his arrival in Exeter, “For lack of a single large barracks area, the division was billeted by units in numerous quaint little villages.” A Bodmin local remembered it differently, “they were camped under canvas all over Cornwall”! Bodmin welcomed around 2 000 troops from numerous regiments, including a medical battalion and special units.

Black and white image of General Eisenhower overlooking a parade of troops.

General Eisenhower watching a retreat parade at Penzance. Credit: American Air Museum in Britain

It is heartening that, despite the recent development of new housing estates in Bodmin, some of the key locations at the heart of the town’s wartime role still remain. The most prominent eyewitness accounts of General Eisenhower’s many visits to Bodmin revolve around his arrival or departure at Bodmin Railway Station, which is now Bodmin and Wenford Railway. The requirements of wartime security have meant that more official records are hard to come by, yet these eyewitness accounts describe a man with ‘quiet confidence’, a ‘ready smile’ and an ‘easy-going personal approach’. Michael Lyne, a Bodmin local, crossed paths with Eisenhower but his account didn’t surface until many years later:

“The Station Master, Mr Wenouth came out and said to me “sonny – don’t tell anybody who you have seen today, because if you do we will have the whole German Air Force on top of us”. I went home and naturally told my father who looked at me and said, “don’t be so silly”.

Eisenhower enjoyed the use of a special GWR train during his preparations for the D-Day landings. This special train, code named ALIVE, comprised 11 vehicles including a special sleeping car used personally by Eisenhower. He continued to use this train after the D-Day landings and even had it shipped from Southampton to France, so he could use it in mainland Europe until it was returned to UK control on 30 July 1945. Eisenhower would have spent much time travelling in order to visit troops all over the local area, as far north as Wales and as far south as Mennaye Field in Penzance, where a slate plaque commemorating his visit would be unveiled 71 years later.

Perhaps the most exciting discovery of my research came when I found a video depicting scenes matching one of the original photos that began my journey down this rabbit warren of historical research. This video prompted more questions than it provided answers, yet it was fascinating to watch Eisenhower engaging in banter with the troops and seeing their best efforts to impress him along with his team. Eisenhower was accompanied in this footage by his son John, General George Patton and Commanding General Paul Baade, who was 35th Infantry Division Commander from January 1943 to December 1945. Thankfully, the video footage includes a clear date, 26 June 1944.

Knowing that Eisenhower made many visits to Bodmin during the first half of 1944 makes me wonder why this particular one was so well documented. The footage shows General Eisenhower at a mine field as he watched a mine locating drill. Soldiers can be seen prodding the field with bayonets during the drill, demonstrating their training. On the field is a sign, ‘BN. A.P. MINE FIELD’ which is possibly an abbreviation for ‘Bodmin Anti-personnel Mine Field’. One of the battalions stationed at Bodmin was the 110th Medical Battalion, quartered at the Poor Law Institute from 27 May – 3 July 1944. This unit would have served the medical needs of the entire 35th Infantry Division. Training was on physical fitness with special courses on mines and booby traps with concealment and cover. Whilst medics would not have been expected to clear a minefield, they would probably have been trained on how to get safely out of one! The medics would also undoubtedly have been trained in how to deal with the injuries that these nasty devices could inflict. Later in the footage, soldiers of the 137th Infantry Regiment can be seen lined up for inspection on the Cold Harbour sports field at Bodmin Barracks as General Eisenhower reviewed the troops.

The most poignant aspect of my research was the bravery of these young men, thousands of miles away from home, waiting eagerly to go to war so they could make a difference. Spirits were undoubtedly high in the footage I have seen, despite the horror of what lay ahead of them in France. 2 373 members of the 35th Infantry Division would later be killed in action and a further 11 382 would be wounded. Still, to this day, we owe these brave men so much.

 

– Written by Sarah Silbereis, Citizen Curator at Bodmin Keep

Spotlight on: Sian Powell, Engagement Officer at Wheal Martyn

We catch up with Sian Powell, one of the 2020 Trainee Curators supported by Cornwall Museums Partnership’s NPO programme, to talk about her journey from Trainee Curator to Engagement Officer at Wheal Martyn Clay Works.

A young woman (Sian) stood next to an exhibition board full of landscape photographs celebrating Cornish clay country

#CelebrateClayCountry Photography Exhibition

I joined Wheal Martyn as a Trainee Curator in January and it didn’t take long for me to quickly fall in love with the museum and the wonderful heritage that it shares. I’m from St Austell and working in Wheal Martyn has given me the historic context for my childhood playgrounds of the clay trails and surrounding areas.

I found that the team at Wheal Martyn were incredibly supportive and welcoming and I instantly felt liked a valued member of staff which was greatly appreciated in the precarious position of being an intern and at the very beginning of my museum career.

Five young women stood inside a museum wearing hard hats.

The 2020 Trainee Curators at PK Porthcurno

My internship was interesting to say the least…2020 was such a strange year for everybody and I feel as though despite the setbacks of the pandemic and lockdown, it actually gave me new opportunities in some areas and helped me to widen my perspective on what a museum is and how it should serve its community.

The role also gave me an instant peer network of other Trainees in the exact boat as me and I found that so valuable, throughout the challenges of the year we were able to support and encourage each other. There was always a sense of collaboration rather than competition.

A man and a woman wearing face masks clean a historic train engine.historc

Sian assists a volunteer cleaning Lee Moor during her traineeship at Wheal Martyn last year.

I love Wheal Martyn; the historic buildings, the nature trail, the niche and often overlooked significant history. For many local people, the china clay industry has been a historic source of employment and any number of our relatives might have once worked for English China Clays. So working here, I often found myself personally invested in the industry which employed my great grandfather for his whole working life as well as many other local people.

I was delighted to have been appointed as Engagement Officer for Wheal Martyn in November and I look forward to being able to serve my local community and engage with the town and area of mid-Cornwall where I grew up and previously felt I had to leave in order to get any kind of career in museums!

 

– Sian Powell, Engagement Officer at Wheal Martyn Clay Works

Explore Cornwall’s Audio Archives from the Comfort of Your Own Home

PRESS RELEASE

A grey Amazon Alexa smart speaker on a white table.

A new and innovative way to explore the oral histories and audio archives of Cornwall’s museums and archives has just launchedCornish Tales enables users to travel through time and the Duchy, listening to stories from the archives of St Ives Archive, PK Porthcurno, Kresen Kernow, and the Cornish Music Archive. 

Launched by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with Hi9, this brand-new immersive experience pushes the boundaries of smart speaker technology and enables global access to oral histories, music, and recordings – previously unavailable online. This is the first time a collaboration of cultural organisations has enabled access to audio resources in such an innovative way – and really is at the forefront of the use of this type of technology anywhere in the UK. 

These stories have been curated into a new immersive and interactive narrative where users will visit ‘Memory Lane Tavern’ to hear songs, head to the bus stop for a journey through time to Porthcurno, St Ives, or Redruth, or jump to specific audio clips that they would like to hear. Over 500 variations of the experience are available, which means users can have a different experience every time or revisit their favourite parts.  

Users will be able to navigate through the experience using just their voice – meaning that the experience has been designed to be as accessible as possible. Hi9’s philosophy is that their technology should be able to be used intuitively by everyone – from aged 4 to 84. The experience is also being trialled by care homes across Cornwall, in partnership with EPIC Health – a project led by the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Health Technology which has provided over 150 Amazon Echo smart speakers for care homes in Cornwall. The hope is that in future, these experiences can be used by care providers to support with reminiscence work. 

This highly experimental and innovative research project has been funded by the Museums Association’s Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund and The Space. 

Amy Shakespeare, Innovation Manager at Cornwall Museums Partnership says, “It’s really brilliant to be able to cast a light on these amazing audio archives that have previously been difficult to access. We asked ourselves tough questions about why we collect these archives if nobody can access them easily, and what could be done about it. Working collaboratively with the museum and archives, as well as our tech partner Hi9, we’ve been able to solve some of these problems and show Cornwall is leading the way with this technology that is rapidly becoming a part of many homes. On top of this, we’ve been able to work with EPIC Health and care homes to show the potential wellbeing benefits that utilising museum collections in this way can have. 

Wo King, CEO and Founder at Hi9 says, “I believe that we are going through cultural isolation in Cornwall and with the rest of the world. This summer the rest of the UK is coming back to see us but most of the world will not. This gives us a chance to share the Cornish culture with the rest of the world from the comfort of the chair using an Alexa device and with people isolated in care homes. Connecting the rich stories, voices, songs and history back to people desperate to hear it. Using AI in this way and working with CMP has been a joy for us to contribute” 

Users in the UK, Ireland, US, Vietnam, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia can now access the Cornish Tales, from the comfort of your own home, using a smart speaker or smart phone, by downloading the Amazon Alexa app. On the app click ‘more’, then ‘skills and games’ and search for Cornish Tales. Once you’ve enabled Cornish Tales, simply say ‘Alexa, open Cornish Tales’ whenever you want to start the experience. 


 

For more information, please get in touch with Amy Shakespeare on amy@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk or 01209 500750. 

 

Notes to Editor 

About CMP: 

Cornwall Museums Partnership is an independent charitable incorporated organisation, formed in 2015 to provide leadership for Cornwall’s museums; to support them, represent them and give them a voice. We are a sector-leading charity which is not afraid to think differently. Our values of collaboration, inclusivity and innovation inform everything we do. 

Our ambition is to be recognised nationally and internationally as a pioneering model of collaborative leadership which promotes innovation and resilience in the museums’ sector and beyond. We want to shift the dial in terms of the impact and value museums create. By working in partnership with museums, we want to help them to use their collections effectively to foster happy, healthy and prosperous communities where heritage is valued and celebrated. Cornwall Museums Partnership, Studio 101, Krowji, Redruth, Cornwall, TR15 3GE 

 www.cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk  

Cornwall Museums Partnership receives core funding from Cornwall Council and Arts Council England. 

 

About Kresen Kernow 

The Archives and Cornish Studies Service is Cornwall’s Accredited archive service and our team of staff and volunteers deliver statutory, community and heritage outcomes.  In 2019 we moved to Kresen Kernow, Redruth, which is now home to over 1.5 million books and archives, dating from 1150 to the present day.  We provide specialist public services, including providing access to archives and published material, caring for the collections, supporting other archive holders, and delivering an exhibition and engagement programme. We acquire collections that represent a diverse range of individuals, organisations and events connected to Cornwall, and believe they are a rich source of inspiration for learning, skills and creativity. Through the facilities at Kresen Kernow, our digital platforms, partnerships and programmes, we aim to make a difference to people and our community.  We are funded by Cornwall Council and our current programmes are supported by a generous five-year NLHF grant. 

www.kresenkernow.org 

 

About PK Porthcurno 

The coastal village of Porthcurno, located in West Cornwall, was once the heart of international telecommunications, boasting the largest telegraph station in the world. Today, PK Porthcurno is a vibrant and captivating heritage attraction that comprises of World War II tunnels, the secret hub of Britain’s wartime communications; the Cable Hut where Britain’s network of undersea telecommunication cables came ashore; exhibitions and interactive displays telling the amazing story of global telecommunications, from the first practical use of electricity to how we communicate today using fibre optic cables that still run beneath the world’s seas and oceans.  

www.pkporthcurno.com 

 

About St Ives Archive 

St Ives Archive is a registered charity whose aim is to develop and maintain a local historical archive for the benefit and use of the public, covering all aspects of the history, geography, natural history, the arts, architecture and the inhabitants of the parishes of St Ives, Carbis Bay, Lelant, Halsetown and Towednack in the county of Cornwall. We began in 1996 and continue as a community activity staffed by volunteers and funded through grants from local businesses, membership, sales of publications and donations. We have collected information on every aspect of the town’s unique history, its people and neighbouring parishes. We have volunteers who have special areas of expertise. They can help with research, whether it’s a simple query or a detailed research project. 

Contact: admin@stivesarchive.org. View: www.stivesarchive.org  

 

A Day in the Life: Maisy-Sky, Marketing Executive Apprentice at Penlee House

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

Next up is Maisy-Sky, Marketing Executive Apprentice at Penlee House Gallery & Museum. Maisy-Sky is working full time on various marketing tasks, as well as working towards a Level 4 Apprenticeship and Diploma.

Read on for more on how Maisy-Sky spends her time at Penlee House…

A selfie of a young woman with long wavy brown hair and sunglasses.

Hello, my name is Maisy-Sky and I am the Marketing Executive Apprentice at Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance. I joined Penlee House in July 2019 and spent 18 months working as a Digital Marketing Apprentice. I’ve recently just started a new role as a Marketing Executive Apprentice and I’m excited to start this new adventure at Penlee House. My daily tasks as a Digital Marketing Apprentice were quite varied, from creating engaging marketing ideas, content, and digital media, evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns to identifying customer trends and new marketing opportunities.

Every day is a bit different but I always start my day by checking my emails and Penlee House’s social media. A lot can happen overnight, new trends, new followers, messages and comments to name a few, so I always check what’s happened and make a list of comments and messages to reply to. If I’ve seen any new trends or events happening on social media that day that I think Penlee House should join in with I’ll run some ideas past my line manager and director to get their opinions.

A big part of my job at the moment is running Penlee Inspired Online and the Penlee Inspired Challenges. During lockdown we invited the public to get creative at home using the collections at Penlee House as inspiration as part of our first online exhibition Penlee Inspired Online. Penlee Inspired Online is a testament to the skill and passion for art and creativity in our local community. Although Penlee has gained a national reputation for Cornish art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, this unique online exhibition showcases works inspired by the collections and exhibitions at Penlee House Gallery & Museum. As I am the only person running both these events I spent a lot of time each week choosing a different painting or object to share, monitoring the entries, and then contacting them to get permission to share their work online on our website and social media. I enjoy running Penlee Inspired Online and the Penlee Inspired Challenges as I love to see how the collection inspires others.

A paper creation of two figures in a sail boat.

Recently I have been spending more time trying to build Penlee House’s presence on Twitter. One day I found a trend going around called ‘Museum Snap’ I thought it sounded interesting and after falling down a Twitter rabbit hole I found this amazing Museum and Heritage Twitter World. After spending a bit of time trying to figure out how the snap game worked and how we could join, I spent the next week keeping an eye out for ‘Museum Snap’ trending on Twitter. Each week one museum selects a painting or object from their collection and other museums can submit a similar item from their collection or something completely different but matches the theme. For example, the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre shared a police uniform with the theme costumes, uniforms, or clothes. In response, I created a Twitter Thread about the Crysede clothing collection at Penlee House which won that round of Museum Snap. The following week we got to host a round of Museum Snap and choose the item, theme, and winner. From joining in with these Museum Snaps we have made new connections with other museums in the country and regularly communicate with them.

After joining in with the ‘Museum Snap’ games we were asked to represent Cornwall in the National Oddity Championship 2021 which is run by Egham Museum. The National Oddity Championship involved 18 heritage organisations from across the country who submitted their oddest item, and Egham Museum put them head-to-head in a series of Twitter Polls. We chose a Bottle of Train (Pilchard) Oil as our oddity. Pilchards were bulked with salt for a month, washed, put in straight-sided barrels, and pressed. The resulting ‘Train’ Oil was collected in a pit and sold to cities for street lighting. Our bottle of Pilchard oil made it to the quarter-finals of the National Oddity Championship 2021 narrowly missing out in a place in the semi-finals (clearly I’m still not over it).

A pen drawing and watercolour piece of a green vase full of colourful flowers.

Working from home has its positives and negatives! Working in the gallery meant I could talk to people face to face and not over Zoom, during my screen breaks I could walk around the galleries and appreciate the amazing artworks by the Newlyn School artists, and in my lunch break I could walk around the surrounding park. Working from home has had positives though, if the gallery wasn’t closed I wouldn’t have ran Penlee Inspired Online or the Penlee Inspired Challenges or taken part in online events and made connections with other museums and galleries. I’m really excited about Penlee House reopening (hopefully on May 17) and finally being able to see the exhibition Laura Knight: A Celebration. This last year has taught me to take time for myself when I need it and in the words of Paddington Bear “If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.”

– Maisy-Sky Lumbers, Marketing Executive Apprentice at Penlee House Gallery & Museum