Dorset County Museum celebrates its volunteers in National Volunteer Week

Volunteers-Week-LogoThis week is National Volunteer Week, and Dorset County Museum wants to recognise the generosity of its 200 volunteers who collectively give thousands of hours of their time to the Museum each year. Volunteers are involved in a wide range of activities at the Museum, from documenting, curating and conserving collections to staging exhibitions, working in the Museum Shop and helping with lectures, events and fundraising.

Museum Tea Room VolunteersJill Minchin, Volunteer Co-ordinator and herself a volunteer at the Museum explained: “The Museum simply could not care for its collections adequately or put on such a wide range of exhibitions and activities without the help of its volunteers. The Museum’s archaeology, geology, textiles, art, literary and photographic collections are all looked after by volunteer curators, and a team of volunteers also run the Museum’s library, where many important antiquarian volumes are housed.”

Museum-Volunteers-ArchaeologyJon Murden, Director added, “Volunteers are absolutely crucial to every aspect of the running of the Museum. We could not function without the enormous amount of work put in each and every day by our team of highly motivated and highly skilled volunteers. We can’t thank them enough for the essential work they do.”

Dorset County Museum has been awarded £10.3million of Heritage Lottery funding for a new Collections Development Centre. Part of this money will be used to improve the working environment for volunteers.

The Museum is always looking for volunteers for lots of different roles, so if you would be interested in getting involved please get in touch by phone on 01305 756826, or email

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Bodies in Trenches 2013

Archaeology National Trust SW

A good time to review some of the discoveries of the past year. Much of what we have written here is to do with work that National Trust archaeologists have carried out themselves. However, resources dictate that I usually need to a ask archaeological contractors to carry out recording work.

Here are some of the discoveries from repairs, developments and service trenches that needed excavating this year. At some places, a trench can be dug where there is a near certainty that archaeology will be affected…even when the location has been chosen to avoid it. At others, we do not have enough information to know what will be discovered. Geophysics can help… but often it is difficult to know what lies beneath the ground.

In January, trenching for a new drainage system and fibre-optic cable line around the house at Montacute, Somerset was watched by Mike and Peter of Terrain…

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Lecture: Bird Migration and the Campaign to stop Illegal Hunting by Andrew Morgan

Avocet, Malta

Avocet, Malta – Birdlife

BirdLife Malta is a society for the protection of birds and natural habitats in Malta. The organisation monitors activity that threatens wild birds, such as illegal hunting and trapping and urban development in conservation areas on the Maltese islands.

This year BirdLife Malta celebrates the 50th anniversary of its campaigning, research and conservation work. Founded in January 1962 it is the oldest environmental organisation in Malta.

Malta lies on one of three routes used by birds on their biannual migration between Europe and Africa.  There are over 12,000 licensed hunters on the Maltese islands and many will illegally shoot protected birds as there is a large bounty on the rare species.

To help Birdlife Malta stop this tragic waste, Andrew Morgan is giving this lecture, entitled Bird Migration and the Campaign to stop

, to raise funds and awareness for the campaign which he has been supporting since 2008.

The lecture takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 26th June and doors are open from 7.00pm.  The lecture is FREE but a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

Everyone is welcome and there is no need to book.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on

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Lecture: Taxidermy – Past and Present by Jonathan McGowan

Dorset Naturalist and Taxidermist, Jonathan McGowan

Dorset Naturalist and Taxidermist, Jonathan McGowan

Taxidermy is a skilful traditional craft. It dates not just from the days before the camera and guide book were invented, but is still a highly sought-after profession even today. These skills are needed by naturalists, museum curators, teachers, photographers and interior designers to name but a few. Whilst taxidermy may sometimes be associated with ‘arty’ types, many traditional taxidermists still continue the craft in the most old fashioned of ways.

The art is all about removing the skins of animals, preserving them and recreating a life-like model and mounting it in a natural-looking setting. Taxidermy need not be just about hunting trophies – it is also about safeguarding the memories of loved family pets, or the recycling of dead animals that litter our roadsides from time to time and indeed much vital information can be gained from collecting road kill and passing it on to relevant conservation authorities.

A mounted wild polecat.

A mounted wild polecat.

Jonathan McGowan’s illustrated  talk touches on the history of the craft from the past to the present day, with insights into how it is carried out, the ups and downs (including the perks and horrors) of the trade, and strange oddities of nature.

The lecture takes place at Dorset County Museum at 7.30 on Wednesday 29 May and doors are open from 7pm.  The event is free but a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on

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