Curator of Bungay Museum, Chris Reeve, talks more about the experience of taking on a student placement…
Bungay Museum was delighted when we were approached earlier this year by a University of East Anglia student, Florence Parker, requesting a 15-day placement for work experience with us.
Florence was doing her Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies Master’s degree and has a particular interest in Bungay’s history because her family had a coach-travel business in the town, established in 1912.
So we responded enthusiastically, and after an interview in March, it was agreed that it would be a great asset if she could commence the digital cataloguing of our extensive collection of photographs, dating from the 1860’s to the present day.
The collection, perhaps one of the largest in the county, was compiled and partly created by Frank Honeywood. He was appointed Town Recorder in 1978, and diligently sought out historic images of the town, purchasing, copying, encouraging donations, and taking his own photos of town activities and celebrations, and changes in the street scene and landscape. Many of these were provided for the Museum during his lifetime and then, following his death in 2014, an even larger number were donated by the family. They were un-catalogued, and in no systematic order, so getting them sorted and documented presented a formidable task.
“The daunting challenge that this project presented was superseded by the enthusiasm I felt towards the potential it had for improved access to and understanding of the valuable collection for the local community. To begin the cataloguing, the museum purchased a laptop on which I applied for a free Non-profit Microsoft License to be able to construct an Access database. My main task was to enter key information for each individual photograph into the digital database, giving them identification numbers then systematising them into archival boxes. It was a great surprise to find some of them actually featured my relatives! The enormity of the collection means that the project is on-going, yet to fulfil my Master’s degree, I was required to write a 5,000-word Project Report. I received a first-class distinction grade for it, with feedback saying it demonstrated excellent understanding of the link between theoretical and practical aspects of collections management as well as the value of local history museums.”