Category Archives: Internships

Discover St. Paul’s Black History in a storymap and walks – test upload

By Tanja Aminata Bah, MA Curator-in-training at  M Shed / Social History Team

Discover Black History in St. Paul’s via a story map and walks
Always wanted to find out more about your local area? Ever wondered where the Bamboo Club was or where the St.Paul’s riots started? St. Paul’s is full of exciting stories waiting to be discovered with this new handy introduction to Black History in the area.

Over the course of the last year, I have been placed with Bristol Culture’s Social History Team at M Shed and Blaise Castle House Museum as part of my MA Curating at UWE Bristol. My interest in Black History, engagement and innovation through digital media in museum spaces lead me to my creating a story map reimagining, preserving and documenting key Black Bristolian stories as my final project. The map offers not just stories, which I gathered via a call out for information, but also showcases some unique, not yet published archival imagery of St. Paul’s and people in the area.
The map is fully integrated with Google Maps for Android and iPhones and can be used here in your browser.

How to use the map?

The map has different layers, which can be navigated via clicking (this icon). The map works best on mobile devices such as Android and iPhones. Simply open this blog post in your browser and click the enlarge icon in the right corner. This will lead you to the Google Maps integration, where you can scroll through the tours and layers of the map on the go.

Walking tours online

I have designed three unique walking tours, giving you insights while you explore the area. If you enable your GPS signal on your phone the tours will even lead you from stop to stop.

  1. Only have an hour to spare? Essential St. Paul’s is your brief 101 to St. Paul’s African Caribbean history since the 1950s. The hour-long stroll follows a leisurely flat course around the heart of St. Paul’s, Grosvenor road? and City Road and offers plenty to see in a short time. If you haven’t got internet on the go you can also download and print out a leaflet here.
  2. If you want to explore for a bit longer you can try out the walk Before The Riots. The walk is flat and will lead you from the Bamboo Club near Portland Square to the Empire Sports Club near St. Agnes, exploring St. Paul’s between 1950 and 1980.
  3. Want it all? The Full Walk will lead you from the Bamboo Club to Ashley Parade on a 2hour uphill course. You will learn all about the African Caribbean community in St.Paul’s and Montpellier before heading to St.Werburghs to learn about two Victorian and Edwardian Black Bristolian families.

St. Paul’s Vibes

While you are out and about exploring you can listen to a selection of my favourite tracks that remind me of St. Paul’s, including many Bristolian artists such as massive attack alongside classics of Calypso and Roots Reggae, which enjoyed a popular following in St. Paul’s.

Finding out more

Got curious and want to find out more about some stories? Here is a handy list to find out more about Black History in and around St. Paul’s.  

The project would not have been possible without my mentor Catherine Littlejohns, curator of Social History, as well as the kind support of Bristol Museum, M Shed, Bristol Archives and UWE staff alongside local stakeholders. Thank you!

Tanja Aminata Bah (Twitter: @jakumata, tanja2.bah@live.uwe.ac.uk)  is a MA Curating Student at UWE Bristol and is placed as curator- in- training with M Shed and the Social History team. In her studies, she is interested in the crossroads between history, representation and digital developments in the heritage field. She holds a B.A. in History and African Studies from University of Cologne.   Her studies are supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. 

MA Final Project St. Paul’s Black History virtual map – Beta

Hi! I am Tanja, a current MA Curating student at UWE, placed as a Curator in training with the Social History Team in Bristol Culture since January 2017. I am interested in engagement work, black history and innovation through digital media in museums. Aside from assisting the Social History Team, I became involved with mainly digital developments, writing up a project proposal to redevelop the “Big Question Displays” in M Shed to address Brexit on a limited budget, as part of my course and writing up a new online collection highlight on “Green Bristol”. For my final project I aimed to contribute to the service through piloting something new and innovative, but rather budget friendly for the service, that crosscuts my interests.

I decided to develop a customized Google map to document black History in St. Paul’s, capturing some key stories of prominent Black Bristolians that were and are active in the area. Initially planned as a walking tour, one motivation for me was to preserve these stories in an ever-changing St. Paul’s and reimagine these for an online audience, who might want to access the map remotely and as a “gateway” of getting first insides into Black History. While focussing on the African Caribbean community from the 1950s I wanted to design something speaking to digital natives and older generations alike. One of my inspirations was “Black Histories London”, a research project capturing the black presence in London from 1958 to 1981 by Rob Waters, who works for University of Sussex and the Sussex Humanities Lab.

I started contacting local stakeholders in June to September, reached out via our Bristol Museums blog and researched intensively in the archives, while tracing back old material from other service affiliated projects such as the Black Bristolian Learning Resource and the Bristol Black Archives Partnership, to combine information into this new digital offering.

Over the last months, I developed a prototype, that I wanted to share with you as an early beta test to gather feedback. The prototype will be trailed with some members of the Bristol Culture Youth Panel on Wednesday 8th November 2017, in a feedback workshop, as well. Although this prototype is fully functional, it is not yet revised in its size and scope as such. Texts for the stations are still earliest drafts, some pictures will change, and some stations will not end up in the final version.

At the moment I am looking at the following questions:

  • How is the layout and design working?
  • Should I use multiple layers sorting stories after themes, instead of one full layer?
  • Should I do a second map for possible walking routes or work in one map with layers?
  • How are the texts and the stations? Are they fully understandable? Does it contain unneccessary information?

 

The project is already fully integrated and tested into the google map app for Android and iPhones. To access it on the go, the user needs to open this blog post (and later the final blog post) with their browser and then click the “fullscreen”/ enlarge icon. This should automatically open the map on the google maps app.

The end product will be offered to the public via a blog post in late November and will hopefully be supplemented by a “Discover and Walk your own” Guide/Booklet as a pdf download. I am currently also seeking out possibilities to further integrate the legacy of the project in form of the map as a QR code label into M Shed.

It would be great to hear your feedback and ideas for improvement as well as general thoughts on this project. I have created a google survey to fill with your impressions and ideas. The form is completely anonymous and does not require any personal data here!
After the Youth Panel Workshop I will try to start systematically evaluating the different tools and map types I discovered and how this pilot is proceeding.

My Digital Apprenticeship with Bristol Museums

My name is Lacey Trotman and I am currently in the fifth week of my Digital Apprenticeship with Bristol Museums. Having left college this June completing a 2 year A levels course in History, Art History, Sociology and Film Studies, the summer was spent searching for the right role for me. Despite College pushing for students to attend University – and many of my friends doing so, I felt the pressures of study and exams to degree level were not for me at this time. I chose instead to look at apprenticeships as it gave me a chance to put my skills into practical use in a real world setting.

Since starting on October 4th I have already begun to work on various projects broadening my range of skills and understanding: tackling the Discovery Pens, writing ‘How to’ guides, resizing images, composing surveys, working on the online shop, diving into the fast paced world of social media and editing blogs for the Museum website.

My first impression is that it’s an amazing place to work, with many opportunities to
undertake and progress.  It’s also clear to see that there is a lot of work going into such an institution with many more departments behind the scenes than I could possibly have imagined.

I have always loved visiting museums and galleries. As a proud Bristolian I feel Bristol Museums provide some of the best in the country. Growing up, family holidays were full of excurst-michaels-mountsions to castles and places of historical interest. Most recently, we visited St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. Our seaside cottage faced the historic site making for picturesque views at all times. With Poldark loving parentbarbara-hepworths we also visited the historic mines and ruins of work houses on the Cornish coast. Cornwall was also the home to legendary artist Barbara Hepworth, one of my key artists to feature in the Art History exam I completed this year; so I was thrilled
to see an original piece by her on our day trip to St. Ives.  Even better is that a few weeks after starting this apprenticeship, Winged Figure was newly installed in the gallery confirming this is definitely the best place to work!

Throughout my childhood I visited all the venues that come under the Bristol Museums canopy. My first trip to The Red Lodge Museum, was with Primary School. I remember being asked by the staff if I wanted to dress as Queen Elizabeth I for the class picture, but afraid of the spotlight I volunteered my best friend instead! Blaise Castle was always a childhood favourite of mine and I can also remember visiting the old Industrial Museum with its variety of transport, planes and trucks. However I banksywas delighted when the new M Shed opened offering fun and interactive features for free. I have not yet gotten over missing the iconic Banksy vs Bristol Museum exhibition or Dismaland, just 40 minutes away in Weston. With such strong links to Bristol, Banksy is a favourite artist of mine. Recently he paid my old Primary School a visit leaving a large mural on their classroom wall.

The next two years fill me with excitement and expectation. The addition of a marketing qualification will add further qualifications to my growing C.V.  I hope to excel in my role growing in both confidence and ability; I am keen to ensure I make the most of this experience and hope that all I have to offer will been seen as a positive addition to the hardworking Digital Team.

Digital Curating Internship – an update

By David Wright (Digital Curating Intern, Bristol Culture)

Both Macauley Bridgman and I are now into week six of our internship as Digital Curating Assistants here at Bristol Culture (Bristol Museums) . At this stage we have partaken in a wide array of projects which have provided us with invaluable experiences as History and Heritage students (a discipline that combines the study if history with its digital interpretation) at the University of the West of England. We have now been on several different tours of the museum both front of house and behind the scenes. Most notably our store tour with Head of Collections Ray Barnett, which provided us with knowledge of issues facing curators nationwide such as conservation techniques, museum pests and the different methods of both utilisation and presentation of objects within the entirety of the museum’s collection.

pic from stores

In addition we were also invited to a presentation by the International Training Programme in which Bristol Museums is a partner alongside the British Museum. Presentations given by Ntombovuyo Tywakadi, Collections Assistant at Ditsong Museum (South Africa), followed by Wanghuan Shi, Project Co-ordinator at Art Exhibitions China and Ana Sverko, Research Associate at the Institute of Art History (Croatia). All three visitors discussed their roles within their respective institutions and provided us with a unique insight into curating around the world. We both found these presentations both insightful and thought provoking as we entered Q&A centred on restrictions and limitations of historical presentation in different nations.

Alongside these experiences we have also assumed multiple projects for various departments around the museum as part of our cross disciplinary approach to digital curating.

Our first project involved working with Natural Sciences Collections Officer Bonnie Griffin to photograph, catalogue and conserve Natural History specimens in the store. This was a privileged assignment which we have perhaps found the most enjoyable. The first hand curating experience and intimate access with both highly experienced staff and noteworthy artefacts we both found inspiring in relation to our respective future careers.

David Wright
David Wright – Digital Curating Intern

Following on from this we undertook a project assigned by Lisa Graves, Curator for World Cultures, to digitise the outdated card index system for India. The digital outcome of this will hopefully see use in an exhibition next year to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of Indian independence in a UK-India Year of Culture. At times we found this work to be somewhat tedious and frustrating however upon completion we have come to recognise the immense significance of digitising museum records for both the preservation of information for future generations and the increased potential such records provide for future utilisation and accessibility.

We have now fully immersed ourselves into our main Bristol Parks project which aims to explore processes by which the museum’s collections can be recorded and presented through geo-location technology. For the purposes of this project we have limited our exploration to well-known local parks, namely Clifton and Durdham Downs with the aim of creating a comprehensive catalogue of records that have been geo-referenced to precise sites within the area. With the proliferation of online mapping tools this is an important time for the museum to analyse how it records object provenance, and having mappable collections makes them suitable for inclusion in a variety of new and exciting platforms – watch this space!. Inclusive of this we have established standardised procedures for object georeferencing which can then be replicated for the use of future ventures and areas. Our previous projects for other departments have provided the foundation for us to explore and critically analyse contemporary processes and experiment with new ways to create links between objects within the museum’s collections.

id cards

As the saying goes “time flies when you are having fun”, and this is certainly true for our experience up to date. We are now in our final two weeks here at the museum and our focus is now fervently on completing our Bristol Parks project.