My name is Shaun and I work as a Visitor Services Supervisor. I enjoy being at the Museum, as I find it a unique atmosphere; my favourite collection can be found in the Egypt gallery, which is where my passion lies.
I joined the In-Touch volunteer programme at the Museum in September 2007 and can testify to the impact of such an opportunity. After being made redundant, I became very de-motivated and depressed, losing my self-respect and confidence. Once I had been accepted onto the course however, I didn’t look back. As the course progressed I could not wait for the next session; at last my life was getting back on track.
The training helped me gain confidence in my personal life and prepare me for my role as a volunteer. I supported subsequent In-Touch programmes, and also worked with the curator of Egyptology to introduce an Egypt handling table.
In December 2008 I was successful in gaining employment as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Museum, and a couple of months later I was promoted to supervisor of the team.
In the current economic climate I believe programmes such as In-Touch are important, as they can help improve peoples’ health, social and working life. The volunteer programme currently taking place at the Museum is called Improving Futures and I am sure it will transform many lives, as it did mine.
As I mentioned earlier my passion lies in the Museum’s Egypt collection, and this is one area that I often discuss with visitors. I love talking about the afterlife and the journey from the final judgement, through to being mummified. When explaining the process to visitors, I describe the different stages involved; the first was to stand before forty-two divine judges, pleading your innocence of any wrong doing during your lifetime. The second judgement was the weighing of a person’s heart against the Goddess Ma’at’s feather, which symbolised truth and justice. Anyone not considered worthy of passing through the judgement would be devoured by Ammut, who dwelled in the darkness waiting for souls. Ammut was a monster with a crocodile head, hippopotamus behind and lion forelegs. Those who passed the tests went before Osiris, who welcomed them into the afterlife. Annubis, my favourite God then took over and began to mummify the bodies; a process which took forty days as the human body consists of around 80% water. Anubis had a jackal’s head, which is often shown as black in colour; this was to represent his link with death.
If, like me you have a particular interest in the Manchester Museum’s Egypt gallery, please do come along and enjoy one of the largest and most significant collections in the UK; there are many fascinating stories to discover.