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LINKs visit leads to Cromwell’s death mask

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Year 1 History A level students visited the Fitzwilliam Museum as part of their Stuart Britain history course.  This is a new trip launched by the History department to support students in their studies and to develop a greater understanding of the relationship between art and history.  In addition to the museum, students visited St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and were taken on a tour of the college by the Schools’ Outreach Officer. The trip followed on from a LINKs visit (see below).

History course team leader Suzanne Daley reports:

“At the museum, we were shown three portraits from the Stuart period which conveyed the concepts of status, religion and armour, the latter being as much a statement of war as well as fashion and wealth.   Our students were encouraged to interpret and discuss the paintings in order to build of picture of the time through visual imagery.

“We then moved to the armoury section to handle and try out military artefacts such as chain mail, a metal and leather gauntlet and a burgonet helmet from the Stuart period.

“Miniature portraits were very popular during the reign of James I and Charles I. Students were shown the museum collection from this period, including a miniature of James’ wife, Princess Anne of Denmark, and the children of Charles I.

“The highlight of the visit was the plaster copy of Oliver Cromwell’s death mask: a striking image of this once powerful man, who was born in Huntingdon in 1599 and was a former student of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

“This was the first visit of its kind for the Long Road History department, and we hope to make it an annual event. The Fitzwilliam Museum provides staff and students a local and free opportunity to explore history beyond the classroom.  The visit also provided an insight into the type of employment available in museums such as education officer or curator.”

The LINKs visit

Annual LINKs visits give Long Road academic and support staff an opportunity to visit an organisation of their chance to see how a link could improve our students’ learning experience and employment prospects. Suzanne reports on the LINKs visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum:

The Fitzwilliam Museum, founded in 1816, is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge.  Few museums in the world contain on a single site collections of such variety and depth.

The purpose of the visit was to gather information about career pathways into museum work.  We met two representatives from the museum’s Education Department, who provided us with material about their programmes for post-16 students and careers in museums. Museum work is a highly competitive and challenging field.  Any student interested in it should aim to secure some voluntary work in a local museum or art gallery during the summer holidays.

The Fitzwilliam Museum offers the following work experience opportunities:

• Work Experience Taster Days available to students between 13 – 18 years old.
• Work Experience Placements available to 16 – 18 year olds in June and July.

No specific degree is required for museum work, and the advice given is to study a subject that you enjoy at university followed by an MA in Museum Studies such as those offered by the University of Leicester or UCL.  However, a student interested in conservation of art works would need to embark on a specialist MA at an institute such as The Courtauld Institute of Art.  The average cost of a conservation MA is £10,000.

Other areas of employment relevant to museum work are:

• Librarians (catalogues and archives)
• IT staff (digital design and data management)
• Researchers
• Designers
• Marketing

• For further information about these opportunities,visit:  http://www.cam.ac.uk/museums-and-collections/get-involved