Thursday, 24 March 2016

Work Experience Placement at the Museum

Every year the Education team facilitates a certain number of work experience placements to enable young people to find out about work in a museum. Here a local student , Jasmine (15), reports on what she got up to during a week at Pitt Rivers...

"This last week I've been immersed in a different world. I am a GCSE history student, and arranged with the Pitt Rivers Museum to do work experience with them for a week.

"I particularly enjoyed photographing the Education Department's handling collection of textiles and masks. We were creating a database, so that researchers could search for and find objects. There were some fascinating and quirky masks, like these two from Indonesia (below):

Frog mask © Pitt Rivers Museum

Bird Mask © Pitt Rivers Museum

If the experience at the Pitt Rivers taught me anything, it's the power of objects. Looking at an object can tell you tons about the people who made it.

African Mask © Pitt Rivers Museum

African mask © Pitt Rivers Museum


"These two African masks (above) tell us about standards of beauty in parts of Africa. Just as we tattoo ourselves, these people cut into their skin and place inks into the cuts, leaving colourful scars behind. See in the scars on the forehead of the mask above. These were considered beautiful, and were a way of showing you were from a particular tribe. Elongated foreheads were a sign of class and beauty in Africa. As babies, our skull bones haven't fused together; so people can safely change the shape of the head.

"Preserving these fabrics can be very important too. The Pitt Rivers is sometimes used to help bring back arts that have died out. If particular weaving techniques have been forgotten, photos of these scarves could be very helpful.

Woven textile © Pitt Rivers Museum

Photographing the Education handling collection 
© Pitt Rivers Museum

Preparing objects to photograph 
© Pitt Rivers Museum

"But a great thing about the Pitt Rivers is how varied it can be. While my friend doing work experience in a bakery did the same thing every day, I had different jobs, almost every day. From opening the museum, to helping with crafts for primary school workshops, to writing this very blog post, my time at the Pitt Rivers Museum has been unforgettable."

Jasmine, work experience student, March 2016