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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Intern Diaries

The question people most often ask when I tell them that I work at Waddesdon Manor is 'but what do you actually do?' And so, despite my surprisingly sociable nature, I thought I'd use this blog to fend off that much repeated enquiry. 

Here, dear readers, are my 'Intern Diaries'

I can only apologise for what is perhaps the least creative name for a blogpost ever written. 

Also, for calling you 'dear readers'.

My official job title  at Waddesdon is 'Collections Assistant', a transitional position set up for recent graduates, allowing an individual to spend a year at the manor learning about curating, museums and how to find a fuse box in the dark.

And you get a badge

I'm tempted to say 'no two days are the same!', but I have a feeling that no two days are the same for anyone in any job, and so will instead tell you that 'what I do varies enormously!' 

Working in a collection like ours you find yourself one day showing students priceless drawings and textiles, and the next assisting with a frames survey of the house. The day after that you might be photocopying auction catalogues. Crazier things have happened.

There are, however, two or three strands that tie the odd-jobs I help with together. The first of these is preparation for the upcoming exhibition of Roubiliac busts of Alexander Pope. The curator is Malcolm Baker, who works at University of California Riverside, and so I get to spend some of my time on the phone to L.A., feeling very transatlantic and glam. 

 Teeny tiny model of the exhibition 

Working with Malcolm and Juliet (Dr Juliet Carey, the Curator of Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings), I have learnt a lot very quickly. Who knew what a socle was? Not me. Have any idea what the average weight of a marble statuette is? No? Neither did I!

I also get to spend a pleasing amount of time learning about, researching and showing people round the house. 

People like Martha! 

I really like looking at art (hence the degree), so this is pretty great. And Waddesdon, as I may have mentioned, is fantastically eclectic (or nuts) both in its design and collection. Decades are quite literally stacked upon one another, and then collaged together. 

Yesterday I was looking at some Roman coins; today I was noting the condition of a resident Freud. 

Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (Rothschild Family Trusts). On loan since 1995
 © The Lucian Freud Archive / The Bridgeman Art Library

And check it out! I think I even know how to use image copyright properly! Rachel...? (Rachel Jacobs is the head of our photographic library)

Of course, all this hard work requires plenty of emergency tea and (gluten free- wooo) cake. Both are National Trust staples. Join me next week for more on that, and possibly a few naughty pictures of some beautiful birds. 


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