Host venue: Virtual volunteering for The Museum of English Rural Life
Why we want you
The aim of the Building Connections Project is to tell the stories of our objects in a new light, developing the online interactivity of our collections, whilst helping users to engage with various social contexts.
We want to draw in new audiences to engage with the collections by linking our collections to current, topical themes. One key goal is to encourage our social media following to engage with The MERL website, through online content such as exhibitions and blog posts.
We need help researching the many objects The MERL has in its collection, to see if we can connect them to themes which will form this new online content.
Here is an example of the latest blog by Collections Researcher, Nic Minney: https://merl.reading.ac.uk/news-and-views/2020/10/superstitious-countryside/
We are also seeking to deepen the link between the object collections and the museum’s archive and library collections. For example, many of our objects come from organisations for which we also hold archives, and this link is not currently explored to the extent we would like it to be. Archive and library material will be just as important to our online content as the objects.
Finally, we are likely to need help in visitor evaluation. This can help us judge how visitors use our museum, and how to improve their experiences with the content we deliver.
What you will be doing
As a Building Connections Project Volunteer, you will be involved in independent research to compile information on different aspects connected to the rural life collections at The MERL.
The topics could include but are not limited to: Decolonisation, Migration, Rural Togetherness in Times of Crisis, Folklore and Superstition, Animal Welfare, Environmental Issues and Rural Advertising.
This project will be taking place over the next year, and the work you produce may be used in online exhibitions and other online content.
You also may be asked to help evaluate our visitor experiences either within the museum and / or online.
This role will suit you if you are
- Able to work both independently and as part of a team
- Interested in rural history
- Enthusiastic, proactive and curious
- Able to explain historic information through excellent, clear writing skills
What you will gain in return
- Become part of a friendly team
- Learn some interesting facts about rural history
- Contribute to the museum’s development
- Develop your research skills
- Gain some new skills for your CV
- Learn about visitor engagement with museums
How much time will it take up?
There will be an initial online meeting at 10.30am on Friday 6th November, on Zoom, to explain in detail what we require. Thereafter you would undertake independent research at home, and where possible in The MERL library, archive or museum collection over a period of several months, with the aim of the project finishing around summer 2021.
We will organise a progress meeting a few weeks into the project and then a final meeting at the end of the project, where you will provide a written report of your findings.
How to apply
If you do not already volunteer for Museums Partnership Reading, please ensure you have completed your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform Better Impact by Wednesday 4th of November.
If you do not already volunteer for Museums Partnership Reading, please ensure you have completed your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform Better Impact by Wednesday4th of November.*Please ensure you tick ‘Building Connections ProjectVolunteer’in your ‘Interests’ Section under ‘My Profile’* *Please ensure you tick ‘Building Connections Project Volunteer’ in your ‘Interests’ Section under ‘My Profile’*.
If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to the Kick-off Meeting at 10.30am on Friday 6th November so you can hear more about the project. It will be an opportunity to join fellow interested volunteers, and hear from The MERL Curator, Dr Ollie Douglas, about how you can contribute to the digital reinterpretation of The MERL galleries, including our proposed focus group, and upcoming research and user testing roles.
The meeting will take approximately 1 hour, and we welcome involvement and questions from volunteers.
Requirement prior to attending the Kick-off Meeting:
Prior to attending the meeting, please complete The MERL Online Exhibition Questionnaire https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3MGHV88
This survey will be the starting point for volunteer involvement in the ‘Building Connections’ project. Based on our early research into exhibition formats and potential themes, we have put together the survey to gauge your opinion and help us decide where to go next.
We would like you to navigate through three of our existing online exhibitions and answer the questions on the survey.
The online exhibitions are:
Land Girls: https://merl.reading.ac.uk/explore/online-exhibitions/land-girls/
A History of the Open Spaces Society: https://merl.reading.ac.uk/explore/online-exhibitions/open-spaces-society/
Welcome Case: https://merl.reading.ac.uk/explore/online-exhibitions/welcome-case/
To read more about the funding behind 'The Building Connections Project' - please see: