Maidenhead Heritage Centre has recently played host to Ibraheem Ali, a Year 12 student on work experience from nearby Desborough College.
Ibraheem writes “Having an affinity for history and culture, I decided to spend my work experience week working at the heritage centre, in whatever position was readily available.”
After some discussion between the Curator and Education Officer, it was decided this would be the perfect opportunity to tackle the stash of curatorial crates that had entered the museum collection a few months ago.
The six wooden crates contain archaeological material from Maidenhead’s past, including flints, bones and large quantity of Roman pottery shards. However, these artefacts had remained in the crates untouched since 1956, when they were packed away by the Heritage Centre’s predecessor, the Maidenhead Museum. Following the Museum’s closure a few years later, the crates passed into storage with the Royal Borough collection, before returning to Maidenhead this year.
Ibraheem was tasked with carrying out an “audit” of the artefacts: “I found myself sifting through boxes of artefacts presented to the museum that had been gathering dust since the 1950’s. I had been given a broad description and demonstration of how a typical audit is carried out, what followed was a wash rinse and repeat cycle of carrying the boxes, organising what they contained, labelling their items, listing of misplaced or absent pieces and photographing them for the museum’s catalogue.”
Thanks to Ibraheem’s hard work, photographs of all the artefacts can now be entered into the Heritage Centre’s collection catalogue, meaning we do not need to disturb the crates again until an artefact is chosen for display. We can also update the paper records about the artefacts – many of which Ibraheem found to be inaccurate!
As part of the project Ibraheem also chose his favourite artefacts from the crates, and created a display about them in the Heritage Centre, researching, writing and arranging all the labels himself.
“This experience has given me a greater appreciation for the history of not only this town but that of even the most insignificant objects around, as they also have some sort of story to tell.”
We hope that visitors and volunteers alike will enjoy this glimpse into Maidenhead’s archaeological history.