Did you know that Ballymena, North Ireland is the ancestral home of Chester Alan Arthur, 21st President of the United States? Well neither did I. This was just one of the many amazing things I learned during my internship at The Braid, Ballymena, Northern Ireland. For my 13-week internship at The Braid, I worked with the Civic Collection, which included nine chains of office, three maces and two swords. For American readers, chains of office, maces, and swords are part of the regalia for holding public offices such as Mayor. I also helped develop an interactive digital trail for children aged 5-10 years old, which is for The Braid’s permanent exhibition gallery.
Working with the Collection was a challenging task as the items in the collection are spread over three sites, which are all an hour or so away from each other. I coordinated site visits with staff at each site to organize dates for an evaluation to take place of all of the items. The Braid needed to reassess the insurance value of all items. Two of the chains were used by the current Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Finding time in their busy schedules was a challenge. The experience showed me how time-consuming even simple things can be—a priceless experience for the future!
While I enjoyed working with the civic collection, helping to create an interactive digital trail for kids was an amazing experience that will make a lasting effect on the Museum. The permanent exhibition gallery shows the history of Ballymena from the prehistoric ages through to the partition of Ireland and the end of World War I. There were six display cases. By working with the app developer, we came up with six different activities, which would help the kids interact with the display.
Through my internship, I was able to experience a museum behind the scenes. I will never look at a museum the same way again! I now have an even deeper appreciation for staff who work in these institutions as words cannot do justice to describe the amount of time and creative problem solving it takes to make a museum work.
Museum Science and Management Student Caitlin Barry