This is the title I would offer David Walliams for his next children’s book – should our paths ever cross!
I am now in my eighteenth year of employment as a member of the Visitor Services team at the Manchester Museum. I am surrounded by treasures from the past that include ancient Egyptian artefacts, fossils and minerals that have brought academic fame to their collectors. I appreciate the knowledge and information I have gathered over the years, not to mention the privilege of being able to see the Museum’s vast collection behind scenes.
People of all ages and from all walks of life visit our Museum each day, making personal connections with our objects. It really is a pleasure to speak to visitors and listen to their stories; around four years ago, I hosted a tour for a group from a residential care home aged between 90-94 years young. Observing the ‘Journeys’ case on the Manchester Gallery, one of the group commented that her family knew Arthur Brookes’ (entrepreneur tea importer) family well and went on to tell everyone all about him. We then moved onto the Money Gallery; looking around, another member of the group explained that she was employed by the Bank of England during the Second World War, in order to detect forged bank notes. Feeling enlightened by the stories, the remainder of the tour was spent reminiscing; as we viewed a medallion commemorating Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, we shared stories about life in Manchester and how the city has grown. We also discussed the ways in which Museums have changed over the years and how formerly they were labelled as boring, due to the formal academic atmosphere of the time.
After meeting this group, I decided to design a tour in which I would introduce objects common to us all, both young and old; discussing collections in a way that allow everyone to openly engage in conversation, sharing memories and personal stories.
So, where does David Walliams feature in all of this I hear you ask! Many children visiting the Museum with school groups and families love to pretend that statues are cursed by Tutankhamun and mummies come alive at night.
During the Museum’s recent week of fame when news broke of the Egypt Gallery’s spinning statue, evidence suggested the movement was caused by natural vibrations. However, most of the girls and boys I met at that time refused to believe it was anything other than ancient Egyptian forces! This is why I love my job so much; I am able to engage my imagination. The Museum’s objects are so inspiring in so many ways, whether it be serious study or creative projects; I have millions of ideas inspired by the gallery spaces for Dr Who scripts, countless time travel children’s stories, and my latest creation ‘But the Museum is Boring’. If I can’t get David, I might write it myself – one day!