A Week in the Life!

Our work at the museum is very varied as we are working on many projects and tasks. While every week has been different so far, this will give you an idea of what a typical one includes. Here is what we were up to last week:



This year is the 30th birthday of the Mining Museum. To mark this occasion, there will be a temporary exhibition on its history that is due to open at the end of October. One of our projects is to write the section on the importance of volunteers. We have been interviewing them about their roles, accomplishments, and what they enjoy most about their experiences. On Monday, we continued to interview volunteers and began to work on the exhibition text.



On most Tuesdays, we work on a project to update records for objects without photographs. This involves locating, photographing, and checking the condition of objects, before adding the information to Adlib (a collections management system). The museum has a diverse collection, so last Tuesday, as well as photographing more typical mining-related items such as detonators, work boots, and fossils, we also took pictures of cutlery, dancing shoes, and a match box. Comparing our condition check of an object with ones done previously is an important part of this process as it allows us to determine whether an object is deteriorating. If it is, we report this to Ellie, the Keeper, who decides if any action needs to be taken. We were also treated to a delicious banana cake made by Alison, the Education Officer, with the help of her hens!


Because of the nature of where some of the objects are stored, we have to wear very fetching high-visibility jackets!


Matchbox from the Dean Tavern in Newtongrange


















On Wednesday, we work in the Education Department. During the summer holidays, the museum runs ‘Wacky Wednesday’ drop-in craft sessions for children. These have included making party hats, peg dolls, and fossil gardens. Last Wednesday, the activity was press-printing inspired by machinery around the museum. This involved carving designs into a styrofoam block using a pencil, before rolling paint over the design, and printing it onto paper. Although this was a very messy activity, the children’s artwork was terrific and well worth the paint stains!


In the afternoon, we worked on the ‘1960s’ loan box, as part of the annual maintenance of the museum’s reminiscence boxes. These contain objects and photographs on a theme, such as ‘Home Sweet Home’ and ‘Mining’. They are sent out into the community to increase accessibility of collections and encourage people with dementia to use their memory. Maintenance includes dusting and condition-checking objects, and replacing missing or damaged photographs and information sheets.

Fossil gardens

Fossil Garden Wacky Wednesday

1960s 6

The ‘1960s’ box











On Thursdays, we work with ‘the library boys’ (the volunteers who work in the library) answering enquiries from the public and other museums. This week, we dealt with a request from a museum in Finland for health and safety posters that will be part of a new exhibition. We searched Adlib for relevant posters, checked for any copyright issues, and sent a selection for them to choose from. They were very happy, saying we ‘made a good day better!’



Health and Safety poster from the museum’s collection (C) NCB


In the afternoon we had a meeting about a new reminiscence loan box on ‘Leisure’ that we are creating. We will update you on our research progress next week. Watch this space!


Friday – also known as ‘Fried Friday’!

Friday is environmental monitoring and housekeeping day. One of our tasks is to use a whirling hygrometer to measure the relative humidity of the stores and exhibition spaces. It is important to measure this as too high or too low humidity can damage collections. The museum has recently installed a new, high-tech monitoring system that is more accurate and comprehensive, and will hopefully make ‘whirling’ a thing of the past!   Another task is to check the bug traps, which are placed in stores to catch insects that could otherwise damage the collections. On Friday, we used a chart to identify the critters that had been caught, and thankfully none of them like munching on museum objects!


To celebrate the start of the weekend, the staff order fried sandwiches from the museum café every Friday— a tradition that we have thoroughly embraced! No amount of bugs can put us off our tattie scone rolls!




Warning: don’t scroll down if you don’t like spiders!









Two spiders caught in a bug trap

Two spiders caught in a bug trap


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