What I did on my work experience

Over the past few years Crawley Museum have been asked to host work experience students from schools and colleges in the surrounding area. This year we hosted 4 students over June and July. Each student came in for between 3 and 5 days depending on their school requirement and got to experience different parts of museum life including cataloguing, school visits, family activities and front of house roles.

Here are some of their thoughts on the time they spent with us.

I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned during my time here at the Crawley Museum as a major fan of history, and I have been interested in museum work for several years now. It has been extremely engaging and educational working here and getting to see how local museums like this one work.

Over the course of this week, I have done collections work-sorting through photos to help the museum organise its donated collections- I have done work at the front desk; welcoming visitors as they enter the museum, and I have been fortunate enough to sit in on meetings and observe school trips to the Ifield mill, both of which helped to educate me on how the museum runs. The meeting I sat in on was with the community panel, discussing how to make the museum more inclusive for Crawley’s diverse populace. I was also able to sit in on a school field trip from Manor Green School, enabling me to learn about the Ifield mills history, as well as observe the Learning & Liaison officer running a school trip.

Brown ceramic jug with narrow neck and round centre and narrow base. Small handle on the back
Bartmann Jug on display in the Tudor Gallery

Furthermore, I was able to walk about the museum and read about the differing Facets of Crawley’s history, my personal favourite object from the museum was a Salt Glazed Bartmann Jug from the Objects of protection case, historically used as witch bottles, and containing a picture of a Bearded Wild man, from European folklore, on its front. This is due to my immense passion for stories, folklore, and cultural history, so it is unsurprising that my second favourite object in the museum was the Bronze age sword with a piece of writing referencing the ancient tradition of offering blades to the river as a divine offering.

Overall, I found my work experience enriching and engaging, enabling me to see how a museum is run and what may be in store for me in the future. I would strongly recommend this museum to any fellow students who have a passion for history, as I believe it is important to witness how a charity such as this is run. -Matthew, Age 15

During my time at crawley museum, I have had a truly enriching work experience. From the moment I joined the team, I was warmly welcomed by the staff and given the opportunity to engage with various aspects of museum operations. One of the highlights of my experience has been interacting with visitors, sharing knowledge about the exhibits, and witnessing their enthusiasm and curiosity. It has been incredibly fulfilling to see people’s faces light up as they discover the fascinating history and artefacts that the museum has to offer.

Additionally, my work at Crawley Museum has allowed me to develop valuable skills in organization and event management. I have had the privilege of having a first hand exposure to the behind-the-scenes workings of a museum. From coordinating logistics to working collaboratively with colleagues, I have learned the importance of attention to detail and effective teamwork. This experience has not only enhanced my professional skill set but also instilled in me a deep appreciation for the significance of preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Overall. My time at Crawley Museum has been incredibly rewarding, and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to such a vital institution. -Jessica

My work experience at Crawley Museum has been incredibly useful to see behind the curtain of a museum and to see how much effort goes into it. On my first day I was given a tour of the museum and found particularly interesting the logistical angle of how the stores are sorted and maintained. I was impressed by the bronze age sword that was on display because prior to my work experience I was unaware there was any tangible proof of the Crawley area being inhabited that long ago. I was also able to sit in on a meeting between the key figures at the museum, which gave me insight into the decision making as well as the general leadership qualities needed to run one.

I was able to work with the Learning and Liaison Officer in setting up an activity for families on another of my days, which was both very enjoyable and interesting for me as it showed how much creativity was needed to make the museum experience accessible for all members of the family and for school visits of all ages. I was run through the temporary exhibition and how each of the different items were grouped up to tell a story. This, I thought, was a difficult task that they were able to pull off and was brilliant for me to see as until you are shown the process you cannot understand how difficult it can be to take seemingly unrelated items and create multiple displays out of them.

I have also been able to work the front desk for an afternoon, which while not as active as many of the other tasks, did highlight the importance of good service in the museum and gave me a chance to interact with some lovely people, both visitors and volunteers.

Press cutting, cream with black text, titled Weald was 'hive of industry...'
Example of press cutting Toby was working on during his week with us.

Over the whole week I have been cataloguing a donation of newspaper clippings from the 1980s into the museum’s system. This for me was the most enjoyable aspect of my work experience as I felt my work was particularly significant and it helped me to learn more about the area’s history. I will now never forget Roger Bastable and his weekly articles of ‘Bygone Crawley’! Crawley Museum is a fantastic place to do work experience, not just if you want to go into museum work, but if you have a general interest in history. The entire staff are incredibly supportive and the history present behind the locked doors give you a whole new perspective on Crawley and its past. -Toby

If you wish to volunteer with us for work experience or to contribute to your Duke of Edinburgh award, please get in touch.

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