As a history and philosophy of art MA student, the opportunity to assist the Collections Manager of the Tunbridge Wells Museum with cataloguing and inventory work was the ideal occasion to apply my theoretical knowledge of museology to a concrete curatorial task and understand the extent to which such knowledge can meet on-ground practicalities. At the time of my internship, I was enrolled in a Masters-level curating module at the University of Kent. Having the opportunity to acquire hands-on experience at the Tunbridge Wells Museum in tandem with the theory I was learning in my seminar tremendously enhanced both aspects of my training, theoretical and practical.
While interning at the museum, I was given a number of tasks and responsibilities. I had to verify the validity of the online costume inventory, handle costumes and accessories dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, carry out quality control checks, photograph the artifacts according to museum guidelines, and address inconsistencies in the electronic record (Modes). On one occasion, I also assisted the collection manager on the installation of art works for an upcoming exhibition at the museum. The work consisted in photographing the works and filling out quality control reports for each work according to museum protocols.
My placement at the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery was an enriching experience that opened my eyes to the complex operations involved in museum collection management. It gave me the opportunity to consider the various ways in which my theoretical knowledge can be put to use in a professional environment. I am confident that the knowledge I have acquired during my internship will be of tremendous value in my future, as I hope to pursue a career in an art institution dedicated to the conservation and exhibition of art.
-Mirra Ianeva is studying for a Masters in the History and Philosophy of Art at the University of Kent