Volunteers at LAARC

LAARC, London

Adam Corsini, 16.07.2012
The Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive & Research Centre (LAARC) is the largest of its kind in the world, storing records for over 8,500 excavations and over five million artefacts.

Our established volunteer programmes have been championing the educational benefits of sharing our archaeological collections with wider audiences. Since opening in 2002, more than 800 individuals have been involved in improving the basic packaging of our artefacts, making the collections accessible for research.

Recent projects such as the volunteer inclusion programme have combined collections work with visitor engagement; volunteers work on collections in the museum’s galleries while actively engaging with museum visitors.

The scheme allows volunteers to develop archaeological knowledge as well as public engagement skills. Visitors are also offered the opportunity to participate during interactive hands-on archaeology workshops.

Since 2011 LAARC has opened its doors to general visitors, running weekly volunteer-led behind-the-scenes tours. These tours offer a chance for new audiences to discover how the archive operates, handle artefacts and hear our volunteers’ archive experiences first hand.

The work of our volunteers is supplemented by archive staff who each month exhibit a selection of their favourite artefacts in interactive museum-based handling sessions. This has allowed us to display items that wouldn’t usually leave the stores, especially records such as original site photographs and object x-rays.

The next aim is to use Arts Council England funding to open up our collections and archive to the outer boroughs of London, inspiring residents to actively engage with their area’s local history.

Adam Corsini is the archaeology collections manager at LAARC