My name is Harry Baker and I have worked at the Combined Military Service Museum (CMSM) for the last few months as their MA placement student from the University of Essex.
Before I came to the museum, I did not fully know what to expect, however having been to numerous museums before and through my studies in MA History I had some ideas concerning the tasks I may complete during my placement, such as cataloguing and digitisation.
During my first visit to the museum, I was amazed at the extensive range of military artefacts displayed within the museum, and went on to discuss with the team at CMSM the main tasks I was to undertake on my placement. The team were really helpful, and let my interests personalise what tasks I was to complete. My main task was to organise and create educational resources for the school visits CMSM provided across a range of topics.
The support and guidance I received during these first few weeks were invaluable, and the working experience was friendly and welcoming from the very beginning. This main task took much less time than expected by the team, and by myself, and this was in part due to the significant amount I enjoyed working on this project for CMSM.
Once this task was completed, and tested out for the first time on a school visit in early June, the positive feedback received from the school solidified the extremely positive experience the placement was for me, even at an early stage. The further tasks I was able to perform were really interesting, ranging from working on the till, assisting in the creation of displays, and work in conservation. I was very interested in many of the historical artefacts I was able to handle across these tasks, and at each stage I found this work very fulfilling and worthwhile.
I also performed tasks online during my placement. The creation of posts on the CMSM website that I created for both the commemoration of D-Day and the Dig for Victory Garden were two projects which I really enjoyed. The workload was never too intensive or underwhelming. The digitisation processes I undertook around this time were also fulfilling, as my completion of these projects in a short amount of time exceeded my expectations.
Finally, my work on the cataloguing of the Roger Landes collection has been one of the most interesting. Although at times difficult to get the hang of, the nature of this work I have found very useful in developing a wide range of skills needed within museums, and in the public history sector as a whole.
The experience has greatly exceeded my already high expectations of museum work, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every week that I have been at CMSM. The historical knowledge that can be gained from working with this immense range of artefacts I find very valuable, and the people at CMSM have been friendly and supportive across the placement as a whole.
I cannot recommend CMSM for future placement students highly enough when reflecting on my experience here over the past few months.
Written by Harry Baker, MA Placement from University of Essex