Friday 2 June 2017
Museum blog: Meet the Museum Administrator
Favourite object(s) in the collection
I really love the harpsichord by Kirkman (1773) because it has two keyboards and lots of interesting little stops you can pull out and make cool effects. I really enjoyed playing it when I gave tours of the museum and demonstrating all the different sounds.
Do you have a musical background or play an instrument?
Yes, in fact I have almost finished my PhD on the subject of gender and opera, more specifically about singing. I’m also an opera singer myself so it was topic I was interested in exploring!
Apart from singing, I am trying to learn the guitar but it’s not going very well. I don’t know many chords yet and my fingers kind of hurt!
What are you up to today?
I’m doing archival work with some old Museum files to get them ready to go to offsite storage
What kind of archival material are you working with?
All kinds of paperwork relating to the history of the Royal College of Music Museum. We'd like to put together a resource for people who want to get to know the history of the collections, and there’s lots of correspondence about the acquisitions of the instruments. I’m just trying to make sense of it so that a researcher one day can piece together the story of the Museum.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do in the Museum?
As an administrator I do a little bit of everything! My role exists predominantly to provide support for the whole department and I also help to manage the finances and reports that go to our funders. I help out with a degree of collections management and track movement of our objects in and out of storage, and I’m involved with the volunteering recruitment and training. So a bit of everything!
What projects do you have going on right now?
We're about to kick off our volunteering programme with two vacancies in digitisation and two in conservation, so I'm making sure we have everything in place to welcome them properly
What's the best bit about your job?
Honestly, I really like that I get to do a bit of everything! It’s great to provide support to all the different members of the team because it means I get to work with people on a range of interesting projects. I feel like I’m a part of everything that goes on! I also enjoy that the job is connected to music and therefore connected to my own research interests.
What are the challenges?
Organising documents in a way that everyone can find them, something that might make perfect sense to me might not for someone else! And of course staying on top of all the projects that are going on and feeling like I can provide the assistance when it’s needed
Why are you important to the Museum?
I suppose you could say I’m like the glue that holds lots of disparate information together, I’m the first point of contact if anyone has any questions about us.
Can you tell us a bit about the RCM collections in your own words?
If you’re looking at musical instrument museums in London then you might not necessarily make the link that the collections are tied to the history of the RCM itself. We have some of the earliest instruments known to still exist, given to us by Sir George Donaldson, and lots of material relating to 20th-century British composers like Elgar, Parry and Vaughan Williams.
What are you most excited about for the future of the Museum?
I’m excited that the Museum is going to be more visible and have longer opening hours, because that means more people will be able to come and see it.
Lastly, if you could be a musical instrument what would you be and why?
Well I’m a singer so if I can’t be my own instrument, I suppose I would want to be a cello! I feel like a cello is closest to the human voice and it’s a very expressive instrument, good at communicating and storytelling.
Thanks Erin, all the best!