The ‘Transparencies Project’ started after the Photographic Studio was sent boxes of transparencies, slides, prints and negatives during recent office moves of various departments in the Museum. The studio took on two internal volunteers to assist with the project. The project involves identifying master transparencies/negatives for acquiring into our photographic archive; and identifying duplicated material for secure disposal. The role requires a good knowledge of photographic films and meticulous attention to detail. The studio aims to provide experience and appropriate training to the volunteers to help them gain new skills for finding work. Without dedicated volunteers we would not be able to complete this project.
India Burr-Hersey writes about her experiences in these first few weeks of the project:
Having started volunteering in the National Maritime Museum RE·THINK space this January, I commenced my role as a volunteer in the photographic studio in the first week of March. I was selected for the role because of my background experience in photography. It is a unique opportunity that will exercise existing skills and develop new talents and knowledge throughout the role, which, within the photographic studio, is to facilitate the ‘Transparencies Project’. In these initial weeks I have been introduced to the studio spaces, the photographic material and the weekly goals of the project as well as the wider aims regarding the photographic film archive.
I feel motivated not only by the enjoyment of learning about the photographic archive and gaining new skills in handling photographic material, but also by how the work Ana and I are doing is actively contributing a service to the Museum. As volunteers it is reassuring to know that we are devoting our time and interest significantly, and it has become clear that this project has the potential to be ongoing. Together we already feel an important part of the Museum, one of the goals of the volunteer programme – Museum wide.
The photographic studio team are dynamic, welcoming and have illustrated what an enjoyable and wide-ranging workplace it is by the variety of tasks it plays host to. To see what is behind the scenes of the Museum is a great privilege. I look forward to sharing the following months with the Museum team and documenting our findings.
Ana Alpuente writes about volunteering behind the scenes in a museum photographic studio:
I recently started a volunteering role in Royal Museums Greenwich’s Photographic Studio. The work is mainly to look through a collection of negatives, transparencies and prints, identifying the duplicates and separating them out for disposal. In reality it is more interesting than it sounds.
The Photographic Studio is located in a separate building from the Museum. It feels like a Doctor Who secret passageway, nothing out of the ordinary on the outside but full of amazing stories on the inside. Once inside you discover a dedicated group of professionals always ready to share their stories, encouraging you to be curious about what they do.
Museums and art galleries are an interesting but struggling field. They always need a dedicated group of volunteers and we, on the other hand, rely on them for valuable experience and insight.
To follow the progress of this project and to keep up to date with the latest news from the Photographic Studio, follow their Twitter Feed @RMGPhotoStudio. To find out about other volunteering opportunities keep an eye on our website.