What is it like to volunteer in the museum stores?

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Volunteer Julie working on a plate that belonged to the Stanley family.

Julie has been volunteering to help with our collections audit for over a year. She has worked on a wide range of objects in store, looking at everything from world cultures to social history objects. Here she shares the recent work she has been doing to help accession a fascinating group of objects into the Museum collection.

“Volunteering to help with accessioning objects in the stores at the Museum has been very interesting. I have come across many unusual, interesting, rare, weird and wonderful objects.

It has been like opening Pandora’s Box, to find out what’s inside each one.  I have come across objects from all corners of the earth. The collection surprises and intrigues me, and I’ve wondered how the objects have made it to this Museum in the centre of England, miles away from where they belonged.

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Julie uncovered Reginald Rowley’s fascinating experiences in the Second World War.

Every week I come to the stores and pick a box off the shelf and wonder what I will find.  My latest find has been of great interest, as it has been a collection given to the Museum by the brother of a local man, Reginald Rowley.

Reginald Rowley wrote an account of his time during the war. He was a young man at the start of the Second World War, and joined the Territorial Army.  As soon as war broke out he became a regular soldier and was sent to France, and then to Belgium to fight.  It was here he was captured and sent to a Prisoner of War camp in Germany.  He had many photos taken in the camp, showing boxing tournaments and plays put on by the prisoners to entertain themselves.  The collection contains letters between Reginald and his cousin Doreen who was back in Nuneaton. Reginald wrote in a diary a full account of the march the Germans took them on over several days as the Allies were approaching towards the end of the war.

A glimpse into Reginald Rowley’s journal kept in 1945 as he was marched away from advancing Russian troops.

A glimpse into Reginald Rowley’s journal kept in 1945 as he was marched away from advancing Russian troops.

Reginald was interested in local history and writing, and in particular he had a great interest in the Stanley family, writing many articles and collecting photos and memorabilia.  One item was a plate (see photograph above) with an image of a woman in the centre, which after a bit of research I discovered to be Maria Octavie Stanley, Reginald Stanley’s wife.”

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