An Introduction to the Happy Museum Volunteers

London Transport Museum has organised a community volunteer programme called the Happy Museum which aims to create a more inclusive Museum environment. The 7 volunteers working on the Happy Museum programme will develop a Handling Trolley which will be used as part of the museums Mind the Map exhibition.

The Volunteers Perspective
At the start of the project we discussed why we wanted to volunteer and what we wanted to achieve as volunteers. As a group we wanted to meet new people, gain work experience, and learn about the history of transport as well as be able to use Museum resources and work with Museum staff. We wanted to make use of our free time and for our contribution to be recognised. Last but not least we wanted to enjoy our time at London Transport Museum.

What we have done so far as a group is take a tour of both the Acton Depot and the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden. The Museum curators gave us a briefing on what the Handling Trolley is for and its role as an active exhibit. We also had a tour of the library, which will enable us to research and get a better understanding of the collection.
To see more photos from the Happy Museum volunteers see our Flickr set.

Written by James Murphy and Bryan Fulton, Volunteers

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Collecting for 2013 – The end of the A Stock

Over the past couple of years, brand new snazzy trains have begun to appear on the Metropolitan Line. These S Stock trains are gradually being added to the London Underground system, replacing the 50 year old A Stock trains. The A Stock are being removed from the network at a rate of two trains per week, and by the end of 2012 will be no more.

The transition from A Stock to S Stock has been an exciting turning point for some drivers, but the end of an era for others. Capturing the workings of the old trains in operation was identified as a priority for the LU150 anniversary project, so yesterday myself and film-maker Geoff Marshall boarded an A Stock at Harrow-on-the-Hill and accompanied driver Richard Griffin on his journey up and down the Metropolitan line for the day

Having never had the opportunity to ride in a Tube cab before, the experience was incredibly exciting! Stations, tracks and other vehicles look so different from the front of the train, and is was fascinating to see Richard operating the train, stopping at signals, making announcements and following the timetable.

Geoff captured lots of footage on camera, which will be edited into a short film and added to the Museum’s collection. As soon as it’s done I will share it up here, but for now here are a few pictures from my ride!

Restoring Met353 – A craftsman’s perspective

One of the first challenges has been to repair the teak frame of the carriage; and undo the damage caused by many decades of human use and exposure to the elements. Surprisingly, in spite of being a timber frame, most of the damage has been caused by rust.

In the 1890s, the normal way to construct the wooden framework of a railway carriage was to use traditional joints such as ‘mortise and tenon’ and ‘lap joints’. In the absence of any effective glue, steel woodscrews were used to keep these joints together. Where further reinforcement was required  steel brackets were added, held in place by bolts or coachscrews. Over time these steel screws and bolts have rusted, and as they rusted they have caused considerable damage.

 
Image 1 (Left): Comparison of severely rusted coachscrew with complete example
Image 2 (Right): Rusted screw with resulting split in wood

As the screws and bolts slowly rusted, the expanding corrosion inexorably forced the wood apart, bending and splitting it. In some places, such as the tops of the corner posts, the fixings have split and splayed the timber in every possible direction.

To repair this sort of damage, the rusty fixings must first be carefully removed, the splits stabilised, holes plugged, and finally the surface replaced with a structural veneer of sound material. Once complete, the repair will be visually unobtrusive and should last for many years.

The above information was kindly provided by David Gunn, a Festiniog Railway craftsman working on the restoration of Met 353.

Collecting for 2013 – Caledonian Road station’s whiteboard artist

 

 

It’s not every London Underground worker who has a song written and recorded about her, but that’s what has happened to Kim Kalan.

The bubbly customer service assistant at Caledonian Road station, on the Piccadilly line, has been brightening up the ticket hall with her intricate whiteboard drawings  – with an accompanying cheerful message for passengers.

As well as being praised by customers, Kim’s colourful drawings were noticed by local musician Eoin Quiery. He was so impressed he decided a write a song about her, which has been recorded on the latest album made by his acoustic rock band, Burning Wheel.

Called Kimmie Song, it can also be found on YouTube and other social networking sites.

It all began in a small way,” said self-taught artist Kim. “When we used to display notices to the public about delays or other problems, I started to put little drawings on them to brighten them up.”

She then moved on to the whiteboard drawings, working on them in her breaks and often coming in early before her shift begins.

Using white board markers she covers a wide range of subjects, ranging from the Mona Lisa to the World Cup and Armistice Day, always coming up with something special to mark Christmas, Easter and other seasonal occasions.

“I do it purely to make the day better for my customers,” said Kim, who affectionately refers to them as “my lovelies.”

She added: “What’s important to me is the positive effect my drawings and messages have on people; I’m not after any sort of recognition.”

Passengers regularly praise her drawings, including a local professional artist who said he could not do what she does with the white board markers. Other passengers have asked her to draw portraits of them.

Asked what she thought when she found out that Eoin Quiery had written a song about her, she said: “I was very surprised. How often do people get a song written about them?”

Kim, whose mother Sandra works in the station’s ticket office, also writes science fiction in her spare time. Her first fantasy book is complete and Kim is currently waiting for an agent.

My ambition is to become a full-time writer,” she said. “In the meantime I will continue with my ticket hall drawings and am so glad that they have met with such a brilliant response from customers.”

You can check out more of Kims work at www.kimistic.co.uk

Words and photos by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend

Access to Art

Our day out at Kew could not have been better. The sun was shining, the ducks were out and about and spring was in the air. There were also plenty of aeroplanes in the sky, making for a challenging soundscape! Rhys ran through how to use some stereo system recording devices including a Marantz PMD 661digital recorder and a Rode NT4 Fixed X/Y Stereo Microphone in a Rycote wind shield. We also learnt to use mono system recording devices such as a Zoom H4 digital recorder and a Sennheiser Shotgun microphone on a boom!

After mastering the art of recording we set off into the sunshine capturing the sounds of waterfalls, geese, flowing water, leaves under foot, the raking and shoveling of earth, the clattering of cups and the sound of distant voices.

Rhys and his team then had the challenge of bringing all these sounds together to produce an MP3 soundtrack that would accompany the poster in the Museum as part of the Poster Parade in April (on display until 15th May).

The particiapnts wish to thank London Transport Museum, Museums, Libraries & Archives, Orleans House Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Audioposts.

Paintings in Hospitals Soundscape Poster Project

The next element of the Paintings in Hospitals Soundscape Poster Project took us all off to the Museum Depot in Acton Town. Jumpers on, and avoiding the washing of buses prior to the open weekend, we explored the depot and had a chance to see some of the posters from the 40,000 strong collection. Gloves on, we were able to take a closer look. Participants were then able to compare their drawings from the first day of the project with the original posters (below).

Museum Curator Robert Excel was on hand to give one of his enigmatic tours of the depot which served to exceed the participants expectations. Then the difficult decision came – which poster will we choose to create a soundscape for? Due to the tour being so interesting and general enjoyment, time ran out and I set the task for the group to email me with their choice of poster, with 3 reasons for their choice and sounds they would like to record.

Join us again to find out about how we get on at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Written by Laura Service