A Day in the Life of a Museum and Artefact Studies MA Student

 

I started my postgraduate study at Durham, reading for a MA in Museum and Artefact Studies in the Department of Archaeology last October and have loved every moment of it. This is how I would spend a typical Monday during the year.

A typical Monday

Mondays started bright and early with 9:00 am lectures on Artefact Studies in the downstairs lab. Not being a morning person, my mornings would usually consist of eating a hearty breakfast (very important) and then rushing out the door in order to make it to the lecture on time. Pro tip if you always wake up late like me: I often made two portions at dinner so that I could grab one out of the fridge in the morning and take it with me for lunch. This definitely saved me a lot of money and gave me extra lying-in-bed time.

After two hours of learning about a particular material and its physical properties and production throughout history, I would either head to the library or to the kiln computer lab in the Department to work on assignments. On various Mondays and Wednesdays during the year we had the opportunity to work on our artefact reports, including our archaeological illustrations.

Examining archives

Often my time between my morning and afternoon lecturers was spent in the Fulling Mill (the Museum of Archaeology’s storage building) looking through boxes and boxes of archives, Samian sherds, and clay pipes in order to choose the right ones to place in our exhibition displays. During the Easter term both the Fulling Mill and the museum would become my second home.

When my exhibition team and I weren’t at the Fulling Mill, we’d gather for lunch in the Archaeology common room. There are microwaves and fridges, perfect for bringing left over dinner to warm up. Sometimes there would even be cake and nibbles left over from one of the Department’s coffee mornings. And who can resist a slice of cake?!

My lecture in the afternoon was for Care of Collections. By the end of the year it was one of my favourite modules because although it was at times very scientific, it taught me so much about how the world works in general. It taught me how materials react to temperature, humidity and light, how to de-humidify a room, why there are always silverfishes in your bathroom (they thrive in damp conditions), but most importantly how to prevent museum collections from damage and decay.

Hit the gym, then relax…

After the lecture I would walk back to the old Ustinov College site at Howland’s farm, only 15 minutes away. On those rare occasions where motivation came to say hello, I would head to the gym with my friend from across the courtyard for a quick workout before dinner. Not in my defence, the gym was literally two minutes away, a perfect distance to make you feel even lazier for not going.

Monday evenings were movie nights at Ustinov College, and it was nice to know that the option was there, but the days would usually end with an early night for me, in order to be ready for my busy 9:00 to 21:00 the next day. Social events were left for Thursdays at the Ustinov pub quiz or for eating home-made pancakes with my friends over the weekend.

Eleonora took a break from her studies to take part in our postgraduate film Beat the Drum at Durham – you can watch it here:

 

 

If you would like to find out more about postgraduate study at Durham University please visit: www.durham.ac.uk/study/pg

Eleonora Falesiedi

Eleonora Falesiedi

Hi, I am Eleonora and I studied MA Museum and Artefact Studies. Living at Ustinov College, I enjoyed meeting other postgraduates, learning about their research, having interesting conversations, but at the same time also enjoying the events organised by the college. I believe college life is a great opportunity to meet other students and have experiences outside of the departments and academic life. Now I have completed my degree I hope to start working in a museum, preferably with archaeological collections.
Eleonora Falesiedi

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