I’m Josh and I am the Museum Futures Trainee for the South West Heritage Trust in Somerset. For the last three months I have been working in both the Museums and Archives teams at the Somerset Heritage Centre. The History of Somerset has always been incredibly important to me, so having the opportunity to work with a collection of ten million archival materials and three million objects relating to the county seems the perfect way to learn more about my community.
I’ve experienced a huge variety of work within the Museums team including coin photography, gathering information about objects and even locating and moving soil samples for a researcher. The Somerset Heritage Centre contains the stores for the museum collections. So far, I have spent the majority of my time finding objects which will be included on Bridgeman Images, a website which licenses images for reproduction. My aim is to gather objects that have plenty of information and most importantly are visually interesting. I highlight some of the most interesting objects on our Instagram account: @Somerset_museums
The Somerset Heritage Centre is also home to the Somerset archive collections. I have been working to digitise thousands of the items held within the archive strongrooms. I upload the digitised records for these items to external digital storage where they are preserved for the long-term. Having digital copies of material not only ensures that it is preserved for as long as possible but also means that we can make it available to the public within the searchroom at the centre.
One of my favourite records was for a selection of photographs of people at the Butleigh Revel Pageant in 1906 dressed as early Britons, Phoenician traders and a monk. It provides a great insight into how people in Somerset in the early 1900s saw the history of the county and depicted ancient cultures.
It’s not only photographs which I have being working with. Correspondence, protected buildings reports, videos and audio files all need to be preserved. Some of the most interesting audio recordings I’ve come across are childhood stories from elderly residents of Somerset.
I look forward to discovering more of the fascinating, weird and wonderful stories from around my county of Somerset.
More information about the South West Heritage Trust can be found on our Website.