A Summer of Virtual Learning

Elmbridge Museum formed a partnership with the University of Leicester Museum Studies department over the summer and was fortunate to work with 4 MA students to facilitate their summer placements. The format was new to everyone this year as due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the placements took place online over Zoom.

The students came from a range of backgrounds and each brought with them different interests and skills. Their primary project was to develop new learning resources for families, schools and adult groups in Elmbridge and to support the museum in finding new ways of engaging with residents during these unprecedented times.

The students met weekly with Ellie, Museum Manager, and Jodie, Learning & Outreach Officer, to share their ideas and update us on their progress creating children’s worksheets, short educational videos, and developing object handling sessions and activities inspired by the collection.

All of the students did an amazing job considering they never once set foot in Elmbridge during their whole 2-month placement! They conducted lots of online research looking at case studies from other museums and asked us to dig around the archive to find relevant local historical information to inform their projects. The museum was also able to offer training opportunities to support their future career development, for example, an exhibitions planning workshop, behind the scenes look at the collections store and career mentoring.

We would like to thank the University of Leicester and especially the students, Anqi, Ellie, Hong and Liang for their hard work and enthusiasm and wish you all the best for your future careers! You can read more about their experience, in their own words, below.


Placement student Anqi

Anqi, collections management enthusiast

Project focus: developing an outreach session inspired by the Victorian costume collection

“I am a student of Museum Studies in the University of Leicester, and the placement in Elmbridge Museum is the last module of the course.  This year is a very special year, because of the pandemic, we can only complete this module in the form of an online internship. Therefore, the content of the internship is very different from what I expected and made me think about how interesting historical research can be as a tool to engage people.  My project focused on the Victorian costume collection and it was very interesting to see different perspectives in historical research. For example the different experience of Victorian women, some of whom were restrained by dress customs and other who were able to demonstrate their class through their appearance. The internship opened my eyes to future career planning which I now realise does not have to be limited to collections. It's always good to try new things!”


Placement student Ellie

Ellie, computer whizz and voiceover expert

Project focus: creating short documentary style videos to engage school children with local history

“As part of my Museum Studies degree at the University of Leicester, I’ve spent the summer taking part in an online work placement with Elmbridge Museum. This has been a really valuable experience and it’s taken me in directions that I’d never considered before.

My task for the last few months has been to create some documentary-style videos for the learning department (you can see my little workspace in the photo). These were looking at the history of Elmbridge, from its importance in the Tudor period to the ways in which the borough was affected during World War Two.  These subjects have been fascinating to learn about and I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know the history of the area, along with the collections within Elmbridge Museum.  The last few months have emphasised some of the benefits of digital learning and I’m really excited for the videos I’ve made to be put into use with local schools, I hope that the students will find the information as interesting as I did!

I’ve learnt many new things during the placement and we were lucky to have several Zoom talks from employees at the museum; these were on objects, exhibitions and careers. In one particularly engaging talk, we were shown the collections storeroom and were talked through the different conservation methods that are used on historic objects. While we couldn’t visit the room in person, these experiences have been no less interesting through online meetings and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this time I’ve spent with Elmbridge Museum.”


Placement student Hong

Hong, film enthusiast and avid traveller

Project focus: creating children’s worksheets inspired by Victorian Elmbridge and the work of Cecil Hepworth

“I am very fortunate to have the placement in Elmbridge Museum. With the guidance from my supervisors Ellie and Jodie, I am so happy about my progress and very grateful for their help. I believe this internship will become an unforgettable experience in my life. 

I have designed two worksheets, crafts and videos, with the themes of railway history and film industry respectively. During the practice, I realised the museum activity is like a stage and I have two roles. One is the staff working in our museum and the other is the target audience. This means I need to explore the objects in the collections from different areas, first to assess historical value and secondly to think about which audiences would be interested in it. I think that engaging the audience, in this case primary school-age children, is always the purpose of museum practice. The design work is not designing for myself, but young children. So, I should pretend to be the kid, and then consider whether the design interests me or not. The criteria of the work are meeting the kids’ needs instead of my own. Therefore, ideally, if I can play both these roles perfectly, then the worksheet may engage and immerse the kids with the exploration of the values of museum collections.

The two-month placement is very short but has given me more confidence in my future museum practice. Besides, I really hope that Elmbridge Museum will become better and better, and I will keep an eye on our museum as I feel like one of its staff.”


Placement student Liang

Liang, art and pottery enthusiast

Project focus: creating children’s worksheets inspired by Elmbridge’s Roman history and the museum’s art collection

“During my internship, my task was to help Elmbridge Museum create some online resources, which can help audience see the museum's exhibition at home during the pandemic period. I faced lots of problems in my work. For example, I made a project for children, the work seemed very simple, but I made a mistake because I used a lot of words that children can't understand. Therefore, children may not be able to understand my learning materials. Fortunately, the placement hosts Ellie and Jodie gave me a lot of useful suggestions, for example, I should think from the perspective of children and understand their learning methods, and I finally corrected my mistakes. It taught me that we should always keep learning in our work and consider the groups of customers and their needs. 

This internship also gave me an opportunity to learn how to cooperate with others. Working in a team is a good way to broaden our vision. Team members can learn from each other because they come from different places, having different experiences and different thinking. Therefore, getting along with other members is also a process of learning from each other and solving problems together. Group cooperation can help to build friendship and is one of the most effective ways to expand working relationships. It was a very unforgettable experience for me, many thanks to Elmbridge Museum.”