This guest article was written by Miriam Chappell, who volunteers with the Learning & Access team alongside her work as a Visitor Services Facilitator in the MUSA Front of House team. Miriam recently volunteered at MUSA’s ‘Trash Fashion’ event as part of Art & Craft Week at MUSA.
I started volunteering at MUSA last summer, working at the front desk to welcome visitors to the museum. As a final year student, I wanted to find out if museum work would be a career I would be interested in. Working at MUSA has shown me that it is indeed!
This summer, alongside working front of house, I have been volunteering with the Learning and Access team. The museum puts on all sorts of events and activities, from children’s art sessions to adults’ talks, and a programme of the events can be found here. They’re all free, but are often busy, so check beforehand if advance booking is necessary. There are loads of events to choose from, particularly in summer when MUSA runs a series of themed weeks from Geology Week to World History Week.
My favourite event to help out at so far was Trash Fashion – a drop-in afternoon of creative chaos in MUSA’s Learning Loft. Kirsty, the Learning and Access Trainee, collected together all sorts of different materials for the children taking part. From newspapers to bubble wrap, from cardboard boxes to plastic bags, the big Learning Loft table was covered in trash, soon to become haute couture.
At another smaller table, we laid out magazines and instructions for bead making. We showed the children how to make beads by cutting thin triangular strips from magazine pages and rolling them around cocktail sticks. Then, holding them very tightly, they covered the paper in glue and left it to dry, before sliding it off the cocktail stick and onto a string. Crafters got to work finding the most colourful pages to make beads from, and experimented cutting up straws into short tubes to go on their necklaces along with the paper beads.
Back at the big table, there were no instructions and definitely no rules – just creativity!
Those taking part could make whatever they wanted from the different kinds of trash on offer. There were loads of ambitious ideas, and it was great to see everyone get creative. It certainly pushed my craft skills to the limit! In the end, some very fashionable MUSA visitors walked out of the Learning Loft: one girl made a waistcoat out of scrap fabric, one boy a t-shirt out of bubble wrap, and another girl, dressed in her own plastic princess dress, even decorated her shoes with pompoms.
I am really enjoying volunteering at Learning and Access events, and helping to make the museum a community space. Whether it’s a talk for adults or a workshop for children, each event shows MUSA reaches far beyond the university – instead, it’s a place where those local to Fife and those visiting can come together, make friends, and get creative.
And, with events like Trash Fashion, it’s a place for imagination and a place where you can make a mess and leave well-dressed!
There are two weeks of summer activities left at MUSA: Nature Week 1-7th August; and World History Week 8th-14th August. Find out more here