FCMG accepts interns as part of the University of Sydney’s Museum & Heritage Studies Internship Program.
Internships allow students to gain experience working with professionals in the museum sector and provide our staff with enthusiastic and capable short-term assistance for work projects.
Below you can read about the internship experience of Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou, an intern who worked with us on the Fairfield City Heritage Collection.
Internship: April to July 2022
Audit of the Compactus and preliminary audit of Blacksmiths
By Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou
Fairfield City Museum & Gallery has been collecting treasures of the area’s past since it opened 1983. The word treasure is not used here to indicate gold or jewels but objects, and even buildings, that tell the rich stories of Fairfield City’s past. The staff of Fairfield City Museum & Gallery have worked tirelessly to care for and organise the objects in the museum’s collection.
The building of the museum was originally constructed in 1913 as the Fairfield Council Chambers and was in operation until the central business district was moved to Fairfield in 1920. The property was then bought by the Morris Family who eventually sold it to the local historical society when it was turned into a museum. The historical society transported to the site the historic buildings of the School House, Slab Hut and Caversham Cottage and then constructed replica buildings of the Blacksmiths, Garage, The Biz Newspaper and The Wheatley’s Store. These building became the Vintage Village which still attracts and excites visitors today.
The museum staff are custodians of these spaces and the thousands of objects in the Collection. Their task, which they do with immense love and care, is to sort through, curate, preserve and document these thousands of objects to make sure they all have the best possible care. Alongside the staff of the museum, interns have worked to assist with the care of the Collection in the form of an audit. The interns before my internship have worked alongside museum staff under the generous and dedicated supervision of Collections Officer Marilyn Gallo.
An audit is important as it is a chance to itemise collections, to repair and care for items, to update records, to chase up missing information, to review the Significance of items, to update organisational systems and catalogue items, and to implement the most modern museological approaches. The interns before me have completed audits of The Wheatly’s Store, The School House, The Slab Hut, Caversham Cottage, The Garage Shop Front and The Biz Newspaper.
During my internship, Marilyn Gallo, Elizabeth O’Reilly and I took on the task of auditing the prop collection in the storage compactus. This was a meticulous job dealing with hundreds of interesting objects. It involved unpacking objects, cleaning them, rephotographing, updating the electronic collection system MOSAiC to reflect accurate information about the object as well as storage location, repackaging the items, cleaning the shelving unit and locating missing items. It was a lengthy job, taking at least ten days, but nonetheless rewarding to see the organisation of this collection improved and the information connected to these objects updated and the Collection in a better condition than when we started.
Towards the end of my internship, I was able to conduct a preliminary audit of the Blacksmiths. This involved identifying objects in the building against the register of items on MOSAiC. It took two days to complete this preliminary audit, identifying items and updating photos. On the morning of the first day we were lucky to be assisted by the volunteer Blacksmith. My attraction to museum work is connected to my love of learning and being able to learn about a diversity of new subjects. On these two days working in the Blacksmiths, I was able to learn about and identify objects that had been used in a Blacksmiths.
Through my internship I also was given the opportunity to assist with research on collection items, with Heritage Week tours and with the install of the exhibition ‘Who are you wearing?’, which displayed the work of local fashion designers.
At the end of my internship I am most struck by the dedication, love and hard work of the small team of Fairfield City Museum & Gallery. I have learnt from a team whose experience and skills qualify them to work at the biggest institutions in the country. The contribution they make to the legacy of Fairfield City and as the custodians of the City’s past should never be underestimated.
‘History, Tours & Site Hire: Our History,’ Fairfield City Museum & Gallery, accessed 23 March 2022, https://www.fairfieldcity.nsw.gov.au/Services/Fairfield-City-Museum-Gallery/History-Tours-Site-Hire
‘History, Tours & Site Hire: Our History,’ Fairfield City Museum & Gallery.