I was very lucky in being a part of this placement as Matt, the Project Curator for #moneymatters, offered the chance of getting involved in other parts of the Harris Museum.
One extra was the Numismatics Conference, which I’ve mentioned before and I’ll be posting about later. However, another extra, that was also my favourite part of this placement, was the World War One display.
Matt offered the other 2 students and me the chance to create our own display, which would be installed in the museum! Of course, we jumped at the chance. We were asked to create a display that would illustrate the changes that occurred in our three countries’ coinage – France, German and Russia – across World War One. How we did this was essentially up to us.
There turned out to be a lot more time and effort involved in creating a museum display than I realised. First, we each went through out coin trays and picked out any ‘interesting’ coins from roughly the correct time period. Then we came together to see if our choices revealed any themes. It turned out that while Louise had few appropriate coins (though what she had were amazing); I had way more German coins than would fit into a display, especially a shared one with 2 other countries.
It was a very sad meeting where I had to say goodbye to all the great coins, with such interesting stories to tell. But, we had discovered 3 main themes and we had to be harsh in cutting our coins down, so we had enough room to discuss them.
I think the hardest part was writing the labels. They kept going between us and Matt, Matt and Sue – the lady who checked them at the Harris – and then back to us. Eventually we had 3 labels that would hopefully be accessible and interesting to all readers (though we each had to cut out so many fascinating stories and coins that we wanted to include!).
Contrasted with that, choosing the structure of the display was easy. First, we discussed the best was to show our themes, but also to show the three countries. Matt and Sue helped us decide on this design:
|Before the war||Crisis!||Lasting instability|
One of the more fun parts was laying the display out. Coins are (usually) very small, so we used raised blocks to draw people’s attention to them. The Harris also had these mirrored blocks, which were perfect for showing both sides of Jenny’s French stamp money.
Jenny and I also got to play seriously and responsibly use a hammer and itty bitty nails to show my German coins, which were on the slanted part of the display case.
Jenny’s mam was slightly concerned about that!
Putting the display all together out in the museum was the best feeling. We’d been working on this for months and now it was installed in a real museum and it would stay there long after our placement finished! I count the day we installed our display as the best day of the whole placement!