Ni Hao! 你好! Sammi updating you here!
Like all the other trainees, I have been swamped with so many exciting projects and lots to do. Currently, I am working with my museum buddy, Harjeet Kaur (Collections and Learning Curator), on updating the Mankind Gallery in Ipswich Museum. During this process we have ‘cleaned the world‘ and more recently, had an electrician in with plans to light it up. We are hoping that the extra lighting will enable visitors to see in better detail the objects on display, as there are a multitude of things that are still in the dark.
The China display within the Mankind Gallery currently contains no interpretation and is therefore overlooked by visitors. By effectively communicating with the public, my proposed project aims to encourage them to linger in the space and engage more with the content.
I wanted to work with the local Chinese community to explore the different and important stories surrounding the objects within the stores. Doing so would also help the group feel a sense of ownership over the display and form a bond with the Museum. I hope we are able to make it more accessible to everybody.
On Wednesday 15 June, we were honoured to have a meeting with the award winning charity, the Anglo Chinese Cultural exchange (ACCE). ACCE Chairperson, Lydia Tse began by introducing the organisation and it’s work promoting Chinese culture. Their aim is to achieve mutual understanding among all ethnic communities. Bob (Conservation officer), Harjeet and I then introduced ourselves and spoke about our roles. Bob was very keen to show off his Chinese and talk about his recent trip to Nanjing, China.
We asked the group about their knowledge of Ipswich museum and it was shocking to me that no one actually knew of its existence. We passed around images of objects in the Chinese display and interestingly, I was informed that an item we believed to be a vase, may have been a hat holder.
One particular perk of this event was the very tasty lunch, consisting of traditionally cooked cuisine. Bob had spoken of being served duck’s blood on his travels. I have a feeling he was glad it is not a popular ingredient and therefore not on the menu. During this period, we were able to sit among the group and build a rapport, understanding a lot more about each individual, their backgrounds and stories.
After lunch we moved on to looking at objects some of the group had brought in. There were a couple of badges, which Bob identified as having the embossed image of Chairman Mao, although it was difficult to identify the year it was made. Other objects included a golden coin from Hong Kong and a 200 year old dog collar, which was so huge, it could literally fit around the waist of a human being.
We then brought out some museum objects, which the group were able to handle and share their personal knowledge about. I found this activity increased the interest of some older participants, who hadn’t seemed too keen at the beginning.
I had a wonderful time hearing about my own heritage and feel like I learnt some really awesome facts. I am happy to report that the group are keen to assist with the China re-display and there will be further contact regarding future events and workshops. I love the fact that as a Trainee I have been given the opportunity to develop this partnership. It will benefit the local ethnic minority organisations and, in turn, our visitors.
Before I finish, if any of our lovely readers have some creative ideas or opinions they would like to share with me on this, feel free to send us some suggestions.
Bye for now! 再见!