Mela Kuch at the British Museum

Mela Kuch did an internship at the British Museum in London during the Summer of 2011. When Mela visited the British Museum as part of the UCHUMHAR32 Heritage course, she realised how well the museum’s dynamic would fit her Humanities major (tracks in AHMS and religious studies) at UCU. Mela wrote an extensive research paper about the Sainsbury African Galleries and in summer 2011 she began her work at the AOA with a particular focus on the African collection. “One of my tasks was to improve Merlin database records in the field of contemporary African art. The new dynamics of post-modernism and post-colonialism changed the museum scene and one of the many results was the inclusion of contemporary art into traditionally ethnographic collections. It is a fairly recent development that is not fully documented in museum’s database, and therefore it was great to contribute to it by researching and writing biographical entries. I also did a project at Orsman Road in East London where I was involved in moving a collection of beadworks from an old to a new storage facility. My main task was to photograph and catalogue the beadwork. Another bigger project I undertook was related to the gold-weights collection and my task was to rearrange the gold-weights, prepare new storage facility, weight and measure them. I had to update the new location, place where they were made, access, availability, ethnic origins and comments about their condition.


During my internship I was also involved in many smaller tasks, such as researching donors and vendors of the African collection, preparing textiles for storage at Blythe House, helping with objects identification, assisting with the preparation of Asante Gold catalogue, bringing sculptures from the conservation department, preparing wood chairs and pots for sampling. During my time at the British Museum I became an intrinsic part of the team and this allowed me to get an insight into the Museum’s work from various perspectives. Every day of my internship contibuted to my bachelor research, my further education and career choices. Nonetheless, the most valuable aspect of my internship were the people I met at the British Museum. All the kindhearted people who taught me how to handle the collection, how to use Merlin, how to photograph objects, how to improve my research. Being with people for whom the British Museum is an everyday reality is something you can never learn at the university – it is something you must experience!"

(HUM Major, class of 2012, MA African Studies, Oxford, starting Fall 3013)