I am new to East Lothian Museums service; I have been working here for a week on a four week work placement for my Museum Studies course at Durham University. Primarily I am working with the collections officer, working on the database, however I have had the chance to work with many member of staff on different projects. I may spell things a bit differently as I am from the United States, specifically Kansas City, Missouri. For my blog I thought I would look at the East Lothian Museums service and their connection with the East Lothian communities. I’ve chosen this photograph to represent the history of the community in Haddington through small businesses!
The East Lothian Museums service has been a great place to do my work placement. Being a smaller, council run museums service there are unique challenges that were not discussed in my classes. They also have strong connections to the community. Their collections and museums reflect the history and life of the East Lothian area they serve. My second day on my placement I was lucky enough to have the chance to go with the education officer and collections officer to St. Andrews for a meeting on ‘Revisiting Collections’. This program (there is one of those pesky words: ‘programme’ in the UK, ‘program’ in the US) is about engaging with communities through objects often using focus groups to gather reactions and insight from groups in those communities. The East Lothian Museums Service has been working on developing a display using these focus group interactions. In class we often discuss how museums are meant to be a resource for the community and to help preserve and share culture heritage, so it was exciting to see this being put into practice in a more active way. I think that getting groups and communities more involved with collections helps people realize what a great resource they have in their community. It also seems to make museums less intimidating and more approachable (much like these blogs). I know that part of my interest in museums stems from elementary school where I was allowed to explore local museums and even participate in events and ‘behind the scenes’ programs.
As a student, ‘Revisiting Collections’ along with digitizing databases and writing blogs are all excellent, practical examples for me of how museums can reach out to their communities and make the most of the services they offer. Often in classes we discuss more abstract ideas like ‘what is a museum’, or learn about museum policies, but it is really valuable for me to have a chance to see and be a part of how museums really work to achieve their ideals.