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The International Writers Magazine: London Museums

Summer Volunteer
Nicky Millman
In the summer of 2010 I volunteered at the Jewish Museum in Camden Town, London. It was an exceptional experience prior to taking up a psychology degree in the UK.

Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum is based in Camden, not far from the underground station and is a museum based on Jewish life in England, especially London. There is a holocaust exhibit which focuses on the plight of the Jewish race during the 1930s and 1940s. It is also worth mentioning that the holocaust exhibit focuses on a survivor of the holocaust, Leon Greenman who spent the remainder of his life until his death in 2008 campaigning against racism. He also received an OBE.

There is also an illuminations gallery which houses medieval religious books often written in Latin. This is only a temporary exhibition and predominantly has books loaned from the Bodleian library in Oxford and the Vatican.

The museum was founded in 1932 and moved to Camden in 1995. The museum closed in 2007 for renovation and was reopened in March of 2010. I never saw the museum before it closed and I was told it was a lot smaller. I didn’t know what to expect.  My first impression was the sheer quality of the museum with its many artefacts, including a medieval mikva (bath) on the ground floor. It is a small museum of 3 floors and is easy to get around. What is most worthy of note is the high interactive nature of the museum. Most things are hands on with the use of touchscreens, etc.

My volunteer role included that of shop assistant, welcome assistant and gallery guide. I most enjoyed fulfilling the role of welcome assistant as it did not involve having to know too much about the technical side of the museum and knowledge of Jewish life. I was a beginner even though I am Jewish but have not had a particularly orthodox life so far. The welcome assistant role involved meeting and greeting customers, and having the responsibility of the cloakroom. What I most enjoyed about the role was the feedback I would get from people regarding what they thought of the museum. The overwhelming position was a great positive feedback of all kinds from people of different nationalities including Spanish, American and of course British.

My next role included that of working the galleries. I only got to do this once as was welcome assistant most of the time I volunteered at the museum. This involved showing people around the museum and explaining what the artefacts were. The role proved a little mundane as not many people would ask questions and it involved a lot of standing around doing nothing.

In summary, the Jewish Museum is a great little museum that is worth visiting. I enjoyed my time as a volunteer and it’s a shame I couldn’t continue in my role due to my studies.
© Nicky Millman October 2010
milkface at
To visit the museum- click here

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