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The study of the Classics is immensely rewarding, and much more so when you are able to experience first-hand, beautiful artefacts from distant ages. At Reading, you have the opportunity to explore the ancient world through our museum placement.

We caught up with BA Ancient History student Daisy Roffe who is currently pursuing a placement with the University’s Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). Daisy discussed how she is learning about the history of objects and researching them whilst working with them.

Tell us more about your placement.

I am in the middle of completing a year-long placement in the conservation studio at the MERL (Museum of English Rural Life), helping with any ongoing projects or working on newly acquired items."

"My responsibilities range from photographing, cleaning, repairing, repackaging, and storing objects. I have just completed my first big solo project, which was working on a plaster cast of a bust of Aphrodite from the Parthenon. It was exciting to work on an object that was so closely related to my particular interest of study. For this project, I had to remove poor colour matching, fill in any holes and colour match certain areas on the cast. The statue is now on display in the classics department."

"I have also separately worked on smaller projects, such as a collection of fly-fishing hooks, a sewing machine, and woven baskets. These are now stored on open shelves in the museum for visitors to see.”

How has the on the job learning experience been for you?

I have learnt many new skills as conservation is a very hands-on job and requires me to be proficient in using items such as a drill or being delicate with items. It has also allowed me to further develop my people skills, through communication with the other staff at the museum, as well as interacting with other companies and professionals. I am constantly learning on the job, as we deal with something different every day. Each object requires a different kind of care and materials used on it, allowing me to develop a wide range of knowledge about different materials.”

How do you think will your placement experience be helpful in your final year of study?

I feel as though I will have a stronger work ethic as a result of doing a placement year. This is because I am working towards deadlines and for various departments. I am not just representing myself but my supervisor and the MERL, so I must make sure I am working hard and to a good standard. It has also given me a lot of understanding about full-time work and the benefits of making connections.”

What sort of support did you receive from the placements team in the Department of Classics?

“The department has been very supportive of my placement. Any questions that I have had about dissertation work and other opportunities within the department have always been well-received.

In addition to my placement, I have also been given the opportunity to help lead a volunteering project within the Ure Museum. This is a very exciting project for me, as I love working with ancient objects and I get to share the knowledge that I have developed with other students!”