From Classroom to Collections: Students placements at the museum

The volunteers at the museum make the work and projects we do possible.

From supporting educational groups, adding to the visitor experience, and assisting with collections – they make continuing The Argylls story possible. Additionally, the student placements that the museum supports throughout the year do incredible work. These placements aim to give the students hand on experience in the field they are studying, and for the majority of them, they will also gain academic accreditation.

This month, we take a look at the fantastic work of the two University of Glasgow Master students we supported this year. Rachael is completing their studies in Museum Studies, whereas Ryan studies Museum Education.

Rachael started with the museum in January 2024, and dedicated over 10 hours a week with us for over 4 months as part of our Small Collections Digitisation placement. Rachael was asked to prepare and clean our small collections which included, competition medallions, brooches, miniature medals, bibles, as well as other miscellaneous items.

Rachael taking photographs of small collections objects
Photo credits: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum

This role also involved photographing each object, condition checking it, and creating object metadata sheets. Part of this work involved researching the owners’ army service and the history of the items.

When asked about her experience Rachael said, “During my time as a work placement student at The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, I was tasked with uploading data to the database of the museum. I have learned many useful skills throughout my work placement, I learned how to clean silver, photograph, scan and update the database that is used in the museum.

…I was able to work with many unique objects, including several personal bibles that have been shot through during World War I, bibles from P.O.W.s from World War II as well as medals from different countries after the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders did joint operations with them. Overall, I think this opportunity was a wonderful experience, learning not only how to care for objects of a collection but learning about the inner workings of a museum.  Learning about not only the objects but the people associated with the objects made this experience one that I will look back on fondly for the rest of my life.”

Not only did Rachael finish the Small Collections project which had been going on for several years, she was able to complete the Bible collection too. We cannot thank Rachael enough!

L-R: Museum CEO, Islay, Rachael and Museum Curator, Rod, on Rachael’s final day
Photo credits: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum

Ryan was the second of the two Glasgow University students. Ryan started with us back in December 2023 and by April 2024 she had completed over 100 hours of volunteering with the museum as part of her placement. She was asked to help create a learning resource for the museum which would help explore un-discussed narratives. After some early discussions the focus was placed on the women of the regiment and the different roles they held. The aim was to create a trail for young people to explore those stories in the museum.

A great deal of focus was placed on the research portion of this project and through this we discovered a wide array of stories. Due to the number of these accounts a decision was made to draw up a more in-depth document for older visitors in order to properly explore these narratives either during the visit or at a later date. When her supervisor, Lucy, was asked about hosting Ryan, she stated, “It was amazing to see Ryan’s enthusiasm for this project but also during other activities she helped with during her placement such as Gaelic Week, Cruachan Day and school visits.”

Ryan (left) with Lucy, Education Officer (right) doing World Gaelic Week activities on the museum floor
Photo credits: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum

When asked about her time at the museum Ryan said: “I had an amazing experience working as a student placement at the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum. My supervisor Lucy was incredibly supportive and inspiration, as were all the other members of staff I worked closely with during my time at the museum. Creating the trail focusing on the history of women with the regiment allowed me to grow my abilities as a future museum educator as well as help the museum increase the diversity of their offerings to the public. I loved my time with the ASH Museum, and I hope that it will be able to serve both visitors and student placements for years to come.”

Ryan (left) with Lucy, Education Officer (right) with the completed Princess Louise trail in front of the Princess Louise painting in the museum
Photo credits: The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum

Ryan completed both the trail and the document by the end of her placement, which we can’t wait to have on the museum floor and has come back several times since then to help out at learning events. It has been a pleasure to host such a dedicated and passionate placement.

Written by Caitlin Meldrum, Audience and Communications Officer

With excerpts from Lucy MacDonald, Education Officer, Rachael and Ryan