Meet the Local: Sarah from St Albans Museum

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Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 21.38.08After a fabulous Instagram photography class by Jeanette Lendon at Slug and Lettuce, last month I had the opportunity to get a sneaky peak at the new St Albans Museum with these lovely ladies who I met at the St Albans Social Club.

Following a two year renovation project, the old Town Hall has been fully restored and will be opening this Friday, 8th June. At 10:00 the new Mayor of St Albans City will cut the ribbon and officially open the museum and gallery.

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The museum will have a space for major exhibitions starting with ‘First
Impressions’, which is exploring 500 years of printing in St Albans. There will also be Brush Letter workshops taking place, hosted by Jen Roffee.

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A grand staircase gallery will host a permanent exhibition charting the development of St Albans from a pre-Roman settlement to modern day.

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Artist Susie MacMurray will be showcasing a number of dramatic sculptures in the assembly room, which once upon a time I used to attend dance classes in.

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It’s very fitting that this weeks Meet The Local is Sarah Keeling from St Albans Museum. Sarah looks after collections from the 15th Century to the present day, and is heavily involved in the new opening. I’m excited to share her answers below so you can too find out even more about Sarah and the new museum.

 

There’s no such thing as a typical day in a museum, particularly not at the moment! I might be in our store working with our collections, or on a computer updating objects, or in the museum installing objects in a case, or in our archive doing research for the next exhibition.

The one thing do I love most about my job is… the variety! But the best thing about my job is I love being allowed to be up close to all of the amazing objects in our collection and then sharing those stories with others. Watching someone realise they’re looking at a 500 year old book, or a 10,000 year old axe, is a real privilege.

 

I ended up working in my current job as… I’ve always wanted to work in museums, I love history and the chance to be behind the scenes in a museum was irresistible. I’ve worked all over Hertfordshire but St Albans is where I was born and Verulamium and the Museum of St Albans were the first museums I visited as a child. Being involved in opening a new museum here is a dream come true.

The best piece of advice I received was measure twice, cut once! It’s not just useful for installing exhibitions but it’s also a great reminder to stop, think and plan before you start any project.

My most memorable moment… I think after this week it will probably be opening the new museum! But I will also always remember the summer I spent volunteering at the Museum of London. I was cataloguing their handling collection and it was the first time I was left alone with collection objects to really study and research them. That was when I knew I really did want to work in museums.

 

My favourite…

Pub in St Albans: Six Bells in St Michaels. It’s very near Verulamium Museum so we sometimes have a drink there after work for birthdays or other celebrations.

Place to eat in St Albans:It has to be the Pudding Stop, either the original van or their café. A place where you can buy late night Chocolate Brownies has to be a winner!

Memory of St Albans: I always love Pilgrimage Day in St Albans when town is full of people and the Cathedral put on a huge procession retelling the story of Alban with 12 foot high puppets. It’s an amazing spectacle and being part of it reminds me of all the pilgrims and visitors St Albans has welcomed throughout history.

Place to have a coffee:I like to get a takeaway cup of tea and sit outside near the Clock Tower or in the Vintry Garden if I can. But if it’s wet then the Abbot’s Kitchen is a great place for tea & cake.

Place to buy a present: I know it’s a bit of a cheat but I’ve been watching the new stock arrive for the museum shop and I’ve already identified several presents ready for friends’ birthdays.

Make sure to not only check out the museum shop this Friday but also the amazing exhibitions. The one room that I’m the most excited about is the 1830s courtroom which has been converted into a café.

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