Posted on 28 August 2015
MA in Public History, 2015
For my internship I got the chance to work on two different projects which explored the connection between Richard III and York. The first was in collaboration with the University of York’s Humanities Research Centre and the Party for Will exhibition held in Heslington Hall. I was required to create an informative banner about Richard III’s connections to the city of York. The second project involved the creation of a walking trail tour for visitors to York. This would be designed guide them to the locations connected to the controversial monarch. This was in connection with IPUP, the York Museums Trust and Jorvik.
Designing a visually appealing and informative banner for the Party for Will exhibition enabled me to further my skills in research and creativivity. I had to locate images and find out about Richard III and the buildings and objects associated with him in the city. This information then had to be condensed and made accessible to a public audience. I had to be extremely selective in the information I chose to ensure that the banner was not too wordy. Similarly, I tried to find the most interesting images to appeal to visitors to the exhibition. Overall, this task was really enjoyable and enabled me to learn skills in condensing factual information and translating it in a creative and an exciting way to the public. It was really rewarding seeing the final version of the banner integrated into the exhibition.
My second task involved creating a walking tour for visitors to York to explore the connections between Richard III and the buildings and museums in the city. I started by researching the places connected to the monarch and located each on a map. I then attempted to work out an accessible route which could incorporate both museums including Monk Bar and the Yorkshire Museum as well as York Minster and the Guildhall. This was quite a challenge, trying to decide whether to plan the route chronologically or choosing places closest together. I tried to merge these ideas to ensure visitors would not be travelling backwards and forwards or get confused when piecing together the connections between Richard and York. I had to write summaries of the locations chosen for a fact sheet to accompany the map. This tested my ability to translate historical information for a public audience. At first, I found myself writing in a very academic style, reflecting the way I write in university work. I realised I had to write in a more informal and creative way, to make the locations more appealing and in order to not just relay the factual information.
By working on two different projects about Richard III and York, I understood how public historians can effectively use a mixture of methods to engage the public in the past. The exhibition offered visitors a clear, snappy insight into Richard III and York as a springboard to the Shakespeare exhibition. On the other hand, the walking tour will enable visitors to explore Richard’s York at their own pace through the visible relics and architecture associated with him. The skills acquired during this placement will be extremely useful as they enhanced my ability to research and taught me how to effectively write for a public audience in different contexts.