I’m crossing the Forth Rail Bridge as I write this, looking out at early morning of the Firth of Forth. It is just after 8am, although I won’t be able to post this online until later [actually it has taken a few days to put this up- apologies]. I’m on my way to St Andrews for the second visit to talk to the students taking the Museum Studies course. I’m going to talk about my work and how to run reminiscence and other outreach sessions. To help, I have a bag of trusty handling objects with me, including a fishwife costume and pictures of fishwives; going out clothes such as a hat, gloves and stole; a wooden spade and a collection of pictures of Portobello beach; a diabolo, whip and peerie and pictures of old toys and games.
I’m taking these as I don’t think you can talk about museums or my job without having objects to explain. These items are often used for reminiscence sessions and by being tactile they can be really useful when working with people with visual impairments or dementia. They also inspire a lot of chat about memories of past times. The objects also travel to schools where they can help to bring the past to life in a way that just talking cannot. With other community groups these items can provoke discussion and debate and assist with making other times or places come to life.
On Monday I travelled with lots of dressing up and going out items to the Beacon Centre in Broomhouse where I was running a reminiscence session. The older people there loved dressing up with some of the items of clothing, hats, stoles, gloves and remembering days gone by at the Palais De Dance, Fairley’s and the Locarno Dance halls.
This is also the topic of the Museums Alive session today at Drumbrae, which will look at fashion, hairstyles and going out. I’m not going to be back in Edinburgh in time to go, but I’m hoping there will be some great photographs of the session and the volunteers will record some of the older people’s memories so I can find out about what was discussed. Last week we heard lots of fascinating stories about sports, hobbies, going out and Cliff Richard!
Plenty of other things have happened since I last posted, I attended an excellent training course on Managing Volunteers run by Museums GalleriesScotland and I’ve been doing quite a bit of work and having quite a few meetings to plan Citizen Curator, the young people’s exhibition on Leith. But it mainly seems to have been a week of travels with objects.