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The Wandering Museum Consultant…

Karolina (L) and Katie (R) at Dublin Museum Hunt
Karolina (L) and Katie (R) at Dublin Museum Hunt

Hello. I’m Katie Urban, MOA’s Learning Coordinator. It has been two months since I started my leave of absence from the Museum of Ontario Archaeology and started out on my equal parts crazy and awesome Wandering Museum Consultant project. The MOA has asked me to write a blog post to let everyone know what I have been up to and what I am still looking forward to in the next few weeks before I head back home in August.

So, what exactly is the Wandering Museum Consultant? Basically I am travelling around the UK and Ireland; spending time at host museums, volunteering and offering volunteer consulting when I can. In short I am engaging in professional exchanges and professional development, with an aim to building my international experience and consulting skills, as well as broadening my knowledge of museum practices through exposure to new and differing methods.

At the moment I am in sitting in a hotel room in Macclesfield, Cheshire – just south of Manchester. I spent Thursday and Friday at the Macclesfield Silk Museum. Exploring the history of silk production in a small industrialised English city, and conversing on the challenges the museums face operating within a very tight budget.

Over the past two months I have also spent time at the Vindolanda Roman Fort site in Northumberland participating in their volunteer archaeological excavations.

Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum
Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum

Followed by two weeks in Dublin, where myself and my host Karolina, organized and held a Museum photographic scavenger hunt, the Dublin Museum Hunt throughout Dublin’s museums to raise money for the mental health charity, Aware. I also spent time at the Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio in the small harbour town of Howth, just outside Dublin. The radio museum is an eclectic group of radio and communications enthusiasts who are trying to single handily collect the entire history of communications into a tiny siege tower.

Denny Abbey
Denny Abbey

My next museum stop was the Denny Abbey and Farmland Museum located in the now mostly drained fenland area north of Cambridge. This museum was rather perfect for me as I ended up working with archaeological collections from the Abbey, expanding my knowledge of medieval English pottery, as well as working with the Education Officer.

I then spent three days in the beautiful Lake District at the Armitt Museum, Galleries and Archive in Ambleside. While there I focused on helping the Curator, Deborah, come up with a variety of new revenue building ideas in an area where school programming is not a big source of funds (there are only 5 local schools). A couple of my ideas are being put into practice soon, I am told.

Tomorrow I am heading north again, back to the north of Cumbria to Carlisle where I will be spending a three days at the Tullie House Museum, followed by the Silloth Toy Soldier Museum to round out the week.

You can follow all my adventures this summer and learn more about each museum and my work at each on my blog www.wanderingmuseumconsultant.com.

I will see everyone in September 2014 when I return!

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