A work experience at the Charterhouse

Hi! I am Rosie. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in an eight-week placement at the Charterhouse as a student of Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Leicester.

Initially I was confused about my specific future career options, however, I was focused on finding smaller museums to gain a deeper understanding of how different departments function and collaborate. The Charterhouse’s combination of museum, heritage site, and almshouse, not only made me curious about the way it balances the experience of residents and visitors, but also convinced me that it would be the best place for me to gain a diverse experience.

My work at the Charterhouse was mainly divided into three sections. The first is working with the Museum Manager, Gabby Swaffield, helping label the Painting Collection displayed in The Old Library, assisting the Collection volunteering team working on the Thackeray collection, the curation of the display case at the entrance to the Chapel, and manning the front desk at the Museum. Working on the Painting labels, I not only gained a deeper understanding of 18th-19th English countryside life and horse racing history, but more importantly a new perspective of thinking. As Gabby suggested, try to think about how visitors and different audiences would view the paintings, what questions would they ask? I also really enjoyed the process of curating the display case by researching the 1936-1938 Old Charterhouse magazine, looking for historical and contemporary connections, finding traces of the same place in different time periods, connecting and creating a dynamic display for it. I also worked with Nichola, the Community Engagement Manager, on the Virtual Soundscape tour and the Garden Creative Writing Garden Tour (see picture). These events use creative activities to encourage diverse audiences to become more involved in public engagement projects, not only with institutions but also with each other, creating meaningful connections, realizing the loneliness that comes with experiencing long periods of isolation and social distancing.

The second part was to prepare an online campaign to commemorate the 650th  anniversary of the foundation of the Charterhouse, working with Charlotte, the Communications Manager. I was asked to research the medieval origins of the Charterhouse and write a blog about life at the period 1371-1530s, providing a summary of the Carthusian monks and their lifestyle, and create some additional social media posts.

The third part was to assist with various events, such as Open Gardens, Baby Broadway, and the Friends’ Tea Party, which gave me the opportunity to meet different groups of visitors and enrich my understanding of the aim of the event and corresponding planning structure. I learned how to manage various unforeseen factors involved in the actual running of an event, for instance, the typical British weather conditions!! It was a valuable lesson for me to see from the staff here the importance of a calm and positive way of thinking, in addition to forward-thinking and backup planning.

This was my first experience working in a museum and I am grateful that Gabby always welcomed me to be involved in meetings, exploring as much as possible what has happened in the past, present and future in this lovely site. This internship experience has been very educational and I am very excited to be able to apply the theories I have learnt to practice.

It was great to be able to enjoy such a learning opportunity in the beautiful heritage site and gardens of the Charterhouse this summer!

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