Collections Management at St Pauls Cathedral
My internship at St Paul's Cathedral was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had during my study at the University of Leicester.
I worked with another student from Leicester, Rachael. We were mainly responsible for collections management, as well as assisting with educational activities for the public when necessary. Every morning we walked through the somewhat secluded paths of the Cathedral to reach the office, a bit like a movie adventure. Our office was located directly above the Quire. The sound of the organ every morning, noon and night is memorable even now.
For the collection management element, for 8 weeks we were responsible for cataloguing a number of textile objects, including Bishop’s copes and stoles. We photographed them, measured and registered them. While working with the supervisors, I learned a lot about Christianity and my colleagues were very helpful in answering my questions. We also spent time working with photos, paintings and models including different views of St. Paul's Cathedral before and after the Great Fire of London. The photograph collections document the various large events held at St. Paul's. We also participated in work towards a new exhibition for next year, a memorial exhibition about Sir Wren, the designer of St. Paul's Cathedral. I hope I will have the opportunity to see the exhibition when it opens next year.
In addition, Rachael and I helped with educational activities in the Cathedral, meeting families from all over the world visiting St. Paul's Cathedral during the summer holidays. We set up a lot of small craft tables at the entrance of the Cathedral to engage the children and teach them about the history of St. Paul's in a creative way. I have to say that the crafts were really fun and I did a lot of them myself while helping the kids experience them!
Working at St. Paul's Cathedral also gave me a deeper understanding of the history of the Cathedral. In addition to the areas that visitors can visit, my supervisor also took us into many private parts of the building, introducing us to the structure and so on, which made me marvel at the ingenuity of the architect. I learned a lot about working with collections, but I also learned about theology, architecture and the many services and activities that this amazing building provides. Most memorably, the Cathedral was a focus for the nation after the death of Her Majesty the Queen when it held a service of prayer and reflection, broadcast live on the BBC and attended by 2,000 members of the public.
Zhongyan Tan, MA Museum Studies
(Left Image: Behind the scenes at St Paul’s Cathedral, Right Image: Zhongyan climbed 550 steps up, and back down again to see St Paul’s dome and the amazing views it offers.)