As most of the team work part-time on CITL, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that we were all in the same place at the same time for a team photograph. This presents me with an opportunity to put some faces to the names.
1) Ben Jones has been working at Buxton Museum for 16 years and is the proud owner of 3 part-time jobs there, the newest of which is a Collections Assistant for CITL. His background in English and Drama gives him a slightly different way of looking at things. In fact, as an aspiring horror writer, Ben often finds inspiration from the stranger objects he finds in the collections. He would like to play a Wookie in the next Star Wars film.
2) Joe Perry is an Assistant Collections Officer for CITL. Hailing from the museum service of the Potteries, Joe is the new boy but he is already infecting the team with his fresh enthusiasm and new ideas. Beyond the heritage industry, you can find Joe playing guitar in Leek rock band One Million Fingers.
3) Jess Coatesworth has been working at BMAG for 3 years and is a Collections Assistant on CITL. She has also been involved in cataloguing the Natural History collection. As well as working at the museum part-time, she is in the middle of doing a PhD in Medieval History and specialises in manuscripts and early-printing.
4) Martha Lawrence has been the Assistant Museums Manager since 2005. She previously worked in museums in Gairloch, Wisbech and London. Her work on the project forms part of her role of collections management, organising exhibitions and events and running the education service. Outside of work, she is a keen cross-stitcher and sings in an acapella women’s choir.
5) Colin Wells is a volunteer on the project. A radiographer at the Devonshire Hospital for 39 years, Colin is better known as an authority on local history and has written several books about Buxton. He is also a keen photographer and walker. Currently, Colin is attempting to ‘rationalise’ the Ros McCoola theatre collection.
6) Ros Westwood has been the Derbyshire Museums Manager for over 15 years, during which time the visitor figure has doubled, the stores have been improved to museum standard, and the museum has received several awards and compliments for the work the staff does. Inspiration for Collections in the Landscape comes during long walks in the Derbyshire countryside as well as while working with the enthusiastic team of staff, volunteers, museum partners, and the museum’s visitors.
7) Brian Goodwin is a volunteer for CITL, ploughing his way through the mysteries of the Dr J. Wilfred Jackson archive. Brian used to be a teacher but first came to Buxton Museum as an amateur conchologist, interested in the shell collections. He moved on to the Jackson archive through the conchological connection and is hoping to assist with the impending edit of The Cave Hunters by William Boyd Dawkins.
8) Jim Spencer has been busy cataloguing the immense fossil collection at BMAG as a volunteer. Be they enormous brachiopods from the Jackson collection or tiny gastropods from the Holmes collection, you can find Jim peering at strange primeval creatures through a magnifying glass. Jim was a computer support manager but has been interested in natural history for over 30 years, starting at Manchester University in the evening. His other passion is music.
9) Anna Rhodes has worked at the Museum since 2010 where she is now an Assistant Collections Officer. Her main interests are the fine and decorative art collections and anything related to the eighteenth century. She also posts on our sister blog Enlightenment! (enlightenmentderbyshire.wordpress.com), is studying part time for an Art History MA and is fan of taxidermy.
There are a few people missing from the photograph including volunteers Bente Lowden and Mary Howie but they have so far eluded my attempts to photograph and interrogate them. You can run, ladies, but you can’t hide!
Another individual who deserves mention is volunteer Ian Gregory. Most of the volunteers come in on a Monday when the museum is closed. Ian, on the other hand, joins us on a Thursday; jostling for office space with paid staff. Ian has been using his experience of updating the database at Chatsworth House to help us do the same with ours. He loves walking in the hills of Derbyshire and has recently joined the Buxton writers group.
As you can see, a huge proportion of the work on the project is done by people giving up their spare time. Whether it’s identifying rhinoceros bones, removing shells from an old bronchial pastilles tin or handing out visitor surveys, volunteer work is a valued and necessary part of the modern museum. If you think you can help us in some way, please get in touch by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, you can support us just by coming to Buxton for a visit!