Creating a new museum- a Museum Assistant’s perspective

I am thrilled to have been made Museum Assistant for Biggin Hill Memorial Museum. I am only three weeks in and already I feel I am right in the heart of the project. This is a unique opportunity as we are putting together a brand new museum, and it has been very useful for me to be involved before opening. How great to be able to build something up from the ground and to help contribute to its success! We are hoping to open to the public at the end of January and so right now we are busy with the final preparations.   

This is a perfect role for me as I can combine my love of modern history and knowledge of heritage. The museum will play an important role in keeping the stories of the people who served at Biggin Hill alive, and inspiring future generations to learn more. We remember the fighter pilots who risked their lives, as well as the ground crew, including the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). One inspiring story is that of Sergeant Helen Turner. She stayed at her post on the switchboard during a heavy bombing raid on 30th August 1940 and was awarded the Military Medal in 1940.   

Sergeant Helen Turner, MM

I have spent three years as a Visitor Assistant with Royal Museums Greenwich. I have enjoyed answering the public’s questions about the collections and I look forward to engaging with our visitors at BHMM. I have also spent time working the curators at the National Maritime Museum and have helped to set up exhibitions as a volunteer at Dr Johnson’s House. It will be fantastic for me to be able to build on this curatorial experience by managing the collections at BHMM. 

The great thing about working for a small museum is the variety of work you get to do and the responsibilities you can take on. In my first week I was able to write a newsletter article, lend a hand with a volunteer interview and even a move a bust of Churchill to the Chapel ready for conservation. I have also played my part in helping to set up the day to day running of the museum; finding quotes for gas and electricity, cleaning and broadband.  I’m looking forward to giving talks and working with the volunteers to develop theirs. The best is yet to come; I’m very excited to see the completed museum and open to the public next year! 

Ellen Weineck