The Diary of a Citizen Curator…

Citizen Curators 2020, Bodmin Keep, Cornwall's Regimental Museum, Volunteers,

After last year’s successful “Music, Military and Morale” exhibit, the new cohort of Citizen Curators are preparing to get to work at Bodmin Keep and Lesley, one of our valued volunteers has joined the Citizen Curators team for 2020 and explains what they have been up to already…

Citizen Curators 2020 – A busy first few weeks!

This year we’re a four-strong team of volunteers from across different areas of the museum – Rob the fantastic front-of-house apprentice, oral histories guru Val, Sue whose historical expertise is on loan to us from the Bodmin Town Museum and me, Lesley, ex-back office volunteer and occasional exhibition designer.  We have expert back-up in the form of the museum’s Collections Manager, Verity, and the opportunity to attend training sessions around Cornwall to help us gain the skills we need to become Citizen Curators.

We headed to the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro for our first Core Session, where we tackled big questions like “Why do we have museums?” and discussed how a museum should be defined.  In the afternoon we got to grips (literally) with the basics of handling museum objects and did some improvised storytelling as well.

The following month saw us in Falmouth Art Gallery trying to pin down what “Cornish Identity” was and starting to think about how we could contribute to a Cornish Collection – a group of objects that tell the story of Cornwall.  We also had the chance to practice asking “powerful questions” – a method to help us get the best out of our research in the coming weeks.

In the afternoon we got to try out some fancy tech as we learned about 2D and 3D scanning and how they can help to preserve artefacts and share knowledge around the world and how it can bring collections to people who may never normally get the chance to see them.

Our group is going to be tackling the section of the museum that deals with two key events in the history of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in India – the sieges of Lucknow and Cawnpore – both episodes in the larger Indian Rebellion of 1857.

So far we have met to discuss how we can bring fresh perspectives and tell new stories about the events and the museum’s related artefacts.  We all agreed stage one was all about information gathering, with each of us looking at a different part of the overall picture, looking for the unexpected and exciting stories we can share and the best ways to do so.

There’s still lots to learn and discover over the next few months and we’re all eager to discover more as we go along.  We’ll keep sharing our journey with you, so stay tuned for more details about what we get up to!

Lesley-Anne Harris

Citizen Curator at Cornwall’s Regimental Museum