Researching the Middleham Jewel and Richard III for the Yorkshire Museum

Posted on 12 June 2013

I undertook this internship with York Museums Trust (YMT) during my second-year of PhD studies in the Department of History at the University of York.

‌Placed with the Yorkshire Museum, my main responsibility was carrying out research for the display of the Middleham Jewel in the Medieval Gallery, but I also carried out wider research on Richard III and his connections with the North - this work was combined with that of other IPUP interns (based at different locations in York) to build a web-based toolkit for anyone interested in the life of Richard III.

For the museum I have researched and designed a 'Dig Deeper' panel about the saints on the Middleham Jewel, which will be available to museum visitors. It is hoped that this will provide an interesting way for visitors to approach the Jewel and understand its purpose and importance. Through the wider project I have learned a considerable amount about Richard III’s involvement in the North of England and have also developed more practical skills, such as condensing extensive research for museum exhibitions.

The most enjoyable aspects of the internship were experiencing the ‘backstage’ environment in the museum and producing the panel to be used by the general public and thereby ensuring that my research had an impact. The main challenge was co-ordinating work with other interns, but this was overcome by regular email contact and group meetings.

I chose to do this internship because I wanted to gain experience of carrying out research in a different working environment to the university. I was also interested in gaining museum-based work experience so this was a perfect opportunity.  I have developed a range of transferable skills whilst working as part of this internship. My ability to vary the presentation of historical evidence for different audiences was improved by the opportunity to produce the Dig Deeper panel for the museum. I have gained an improved ability to condense a considerable amount of information into short yet informative segments. My skills connecting to teamwork and communication have also been developed by the need to liaise with the other interns carrying out research connected to Richard III and the fifteenth century.

The most significant gains I have made through carrying out this internship are experiencing researching museum displays, and the opportunity to interact with different heritage partners. My experiences during this internship have helped me to evaluate my strengths, such as thorough research skills and the ability to work independently, and to think about how this could affect the direction of my career path. It has certainly been useful to complete an internship at this stage in my academic study as it has highlighted other options to consider after completion of my PhD in terms of what I can do with the skills I have developed. I would like to thank IPUP and the Yorkshire Museum for giving me this brilliant opportunity.

Rhian McLaughlin

PhD History
IPUP Intern