Claire Godwin has a winning smile. She warmly welcomed me to the Brunel Museum and offered me a welcome cuppa. Claire’s been there since April as Volunteer and Events Manager and says it’s been great to build on her previous experience. ‘When I moved to London to do my degree in arts management at London Southbank University, my first year placement was an internship at the Café Gallery in Southwark Park. That really introduced me to Rotherhithe and I’ve fallen in love with the whole area ever since. When I got this job at the Brunel Museum, I could indulge my love of museums with a location I already knew – perfect!’
The space just accommodates so many imaginative approaches.
Workshops over the summer
We moved out to the roof-top garden and sat out amongst the aromas of summer. Claire is working on a new project at the moment and so I asked her about it next. ‘We’ve a fantastic group of about ten volunteers who help the museum run and now are beginning to support our events and keep the garden looking good. But we want to offer something a bit wider to the community over the summer, so we are inviting people who might want to volunteer but want to test it out first to come along on Thursdays 20 August-24 September at 11:00 and share in researching and developing a new exhibition for the museum. Each week, we are planning to look at a different aspect of the trading history of Rotherhithe, taking the famous East India Company as our lens. For example, we’ll look at how Rotherhithe developed through trade, the role tea played in shaping trade relations and explore the importance of spices in the history of the Company. They will be practical workshops helping us to prepare a display for the museum, recording our findings and telling the story of the East India Company in Rotherhithe in a way that engages our visitors.’
I could indulge my love of museums with a location I already knew – perfect!
Finding out more
The rain threatened so we moved down under a tree and were soon surrounded by a lively group of school children making a visit to the museum with their teacher. I asked Claire how people could find out more about the workshops. ‘Well,’ she said ‘it is an open invitation we are sharing with loads of people and places in Rotherhithe at the moment. We are seeing if we can intrigue some of the people who are normally least able to get along to these things. And we hope it will help to build people’s confidence and encourage folk who join the workshops to consider making the leap to volunteering regularly. The best source of information about the course is to phone me or write to me or better still drop into the Museum and have a chat there.’
..intrigue some of the people who are normally least able to get along to these things.
With the clouds retreating, I asked Claire what had taken her most by surprise on arriving at the Brunel Museum. ‘Lots of things were surprising when I first arrived! I suppose the greatest one was the Tunnel Shaft. Whilst I knew it was there, I was just blown away by how it can be transformed for so many different sorts of events. The space just accommodates so many imaginative approaches. Sadly it will soon by closed for major works but it’s still doing an amazing job for the current show by Arbonauts called The Desire Machine and for other events to come in August and September. I just hope that we can secure a second year’s funding for my post so I can build on the foundations of this year. I particularly want to develop a still better experience for our volunteers, to expand their numbers and if possible start a programme of events at the museum to really show Rotherhithe off to many more people!’
…telling the story of the East India Company in Rotherhithe in a way that engages our visitors.
Drop in on the Brunel Museum whenever its open or Claire can be contacted on 020 7231 3840
Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and her Twitter account @Claire_Brunel
The Brunel Museum is found online at www.brunel-museum.org.uk/
The workshops run at 11:00 on Thursdays 20 August to 24 September at the Museum. If you want to book a place please get in touch with Claire by Friday 7 August.