Today was my first proper day at the museum as Writer in Residence. I was equal parts nervous and excited. I had met Gez and Lisa who I’d be working with when we were setting up the residency but today was a chance to start to pin down which projects I’d be working on. And therein lies the first problem – I want to work on them all! We’ve decided that for the first few weeks, I’ll just take advantage of any opportunities that come up around Remaking Beamish but then try and narrow it down. There looks like there’s lots going on that I can get involved with from spending time in costume around the museum to delving into the vast collections and lots of activity around the new exhibitions proposed as part of the new 1950s area. It was great to find out what’s being planned for the development and all the different buildings and communities that are going to be represented. It’s a writer’s dream to think about all the stories connected with them all and I’m so lucky to get the chance to be involved.
Later in the day, I got the chance to sit down with Dan – the Collections Project Officer at Beamish. Knowing I want to spend some time exploring all the objects in the store I was intrigued to find out a bit more about what’s involved in the process of collecting and curating items to sit in the various buildings and spaces around the museum. It was really fascinating to find out more about Dan’s role and I discovered lots of stuff I hadn’t even thought about; donations that might contain hazardous materials, the pitfalls of oral histories and bidding on items in private collections to try and get them back in front of the public.
I’ve had a great first day – my brain’s buzzing with ideas and even more questions than I started with!