In June we were delighted to welcome Georgia Sivri on a placement in our Learning team. Here’s her background and an overview of what she learned while she was here and the contributions she made to our programme.
I am currently completing my MA in Museum and Gallery Practice in UCL Qatar. As part of my studies, in order to gain an insight into the developing and practical experience in the museum sector, I had to accomplish a one-moth placement in a cultural heritage institution, gallery or a museum.
Delightfully I received the news that for this task I was accepted in the Manchester Museum. I arrived in Manchester at the beginning of May and I spent the whole month working with Learning and Engagement Department. My mentor was Cat Lumb, Secondary and Post-16 Coordinator for Humanities. I received the warmest welcome and hospitality for the whole month. Cat with her knowledge, support, professionalism and guidance became an excellent example to adopt for my future professional career in the cultural heritage. Since my dissertation had the Manchester Museum as case study, from my personal research I had an idea about its historical importance, its significant and stunning collection and the pioneering learning practices they employ to empower public engagement. However I was happily surprised that my already high expectations were only a part of the real value of this institution.
The Manchester Museum aims for dialogic engagement and audience participation, creating two-way communication to support a constructive learning experience. This is its primary learning principle. The learning practices that are used are personalized, enabling learners to make sense of the collection in the context of their own lives, providing the freedom to explore and make choices. Their educational workshops and activities are collaborative, letting the participants share a social experience. Furthermore, to support learning, they offer multisensory experiences involving history, philosophy, science and imagination transforming the learning process into a playful and meaningful experience for the visitors. To maximize inclusion, the Museum provides special adapted programmes for disabled people and autistic children. Overall, one notices that the Manchester Museum, by carrying out a variety of activities and workshops inspired by different learning practices, manages to be a museum accessible to everyone whatever their age, interests and diversity.
My tasks were to observe, learn and participate in extending the educational programmes that were already running to engage the public with the Museum’s collections. All the learning coordinators and facilitators warmly shared their knowledge and experience with me and I would love to thank each and everyone for their patience and generosity.
Moreover, I had to research and assist in the design of a future outreach educational programme scenario for students from 7 to 11 years old on “Ancient Egypt”. The main goal of the project was to engage students with the museum’s collection of Egyptian artifacts by using theatrical practices and Applied Drama techniques, which were outside of the museum’s usual practices. The project will be used by schools at the beginning of September and will run on an annual basis.
I also developed timelines of the careers and lives of Margaret Murray, Jesse Howorth and Sir William Flinders, who are important historical personalities involved in the history of the Manchester Museum and Egyptology. Furthermore, I have made a comparative research for educators on the English and Scottish curriculum and developed a fact file for curators and educators to accompany the “Animal Mummies: Gifts for the Gods” forthcoming temporary exhibition. I designed a self-guided resource linked with Archaeology in relation to organic and inorganic chemistry for KS3 students following the Science curriculum. Lastly, I had the chance to reform a variety of museum’s online learning resources using WordPress.
My placement was a valuable opportunity to put the theory gained from the Master’s in Museum and Gallery Practice into practice. It was an experience that gave me the opportunity to be introduced to the structure and way of working of a cultural institution, such as the Museum. Moreover, a deeper understanding of the different roles and responsibilities of museum professionals helped me to orient my future career given my interests and qualifications. It was a great opportunity to develop a network with cultural heritage professionals, artists and scientists. The placement serves, as a soft passage from academia to the real professional world given the fact that it is carried out after all coursework is complete. I feel emotionally and practically prepared to confidently begin a career in the cultural field after exposure to a real working environment and having to develop human relationships.
Working along with museum professionals gave me the chance to experience teamwork and an example to develop a professional attitude. I expand knowledge, skills and interests and learned new subjects while developing my tasks. It was also a great chance to confront my weak points and try to correct them following the advice and guidance of my personal mentor in advance in order to be more efficient in their professional career in the future.
Notably, the placement allowed me to act as a helping hand and as a bridge between Qatar and Manchester. I was able to link knowledge gained during the MA in Ucl Qatar to activities in Manchester and act as a representative of Qatar whilst explaining and introducing colleagues to the nature of Qatar’s cultural heritage. Hopefully this placement laid the groundwork for potential future cooperation between cultural and education institutions across countries.
We’d like to thank Georgia for all her fantastic work during her time here: we really loved having you as part of the team! We wish her all the best in the future and are sure she’ll be a valuable addition to any cultural venue.