May 6, 2019

Volunteering for all


Elliott Cowie has chatted to Museum Administrator Sarah Hammond about his love of fossils and how his diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder plays a part in his day while volunteering at the Museum.
Category: 2019
Posted by: Sarah

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Cambridge and am 18 years old. I was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder at 3 and a half. Like some Autistic people I have had some obsessions as I grew up, my earliest one was Thomas the Tank Engine, before I moved onto Dinosaurs. I have also had a few interests like Star Wars.

What made you want to volunteer at the Sedgwick Museum?

I have a fascination for palaeontology and have been visiting the Museum numerous times over many years enjoying the collections on display. So, when an opportunity arose to volunteer, I jumped at the chance.

What is your role at the Sedgwick Museum?

I work in the gallery making sure everything is tidy and where it should be, and if any visitors have questions, I am available to answer them to the best of my abilities.

What kind of things do you do on a volunteer shift?

I keep interaction areas like the puzzle areas tidy after visitors have enjoyed them ready for the next visitor. Sometimes I have had to inform parents giving their children incorrect information about the exhibits, as I have good knowledge of the exhibits. I also make sure there is no litter left around.

Have you always been interested in Earth Sciences?

People on the autistic spectrum tend to get obsessive about some their interests, I have been interested in palaeontology for well over 10 years now.

Are you particularly interested in one area of Earth Sciences?

Palaeontology is my biggest interest, Dinosaurs being my favourite part of palaeontology.

Have you ever collected fossils yourself?

I do have my own fossil collection, some found by myself in Charmouth Bay on the Jurassic coast whilst on holiday, some given to me that other people have found, some have been birthday and Christmas presents and I also visit the fossil and rock stall in the Cambridge market and have purchased some of my collection there.

Do you have a favourite object in the Museum?

I enjoy most of the exhibits on display, but my favourite exhibits are the Archaeopteryx and the Deinonychus.

Deinonychus model

Why are these your favourite objects?

I have a fascination with feathered dinosaurs

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Sedgwick Museum?

I get time just to walk around one of my favourite museums, I get to talk to other people with the same interests as me and I am helping the Museum. My ultimate goal is to become a palaeontologist and I hope my volunteering will help me along this path. It is a place I feel comfortable and can be myself which is important for an Autistic person.

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The Sedgwick Museum is currently advertising for gallery volunteers and we are looking forward to welcoming more people to the team over the summer to engage with our visitors and take part in other upcoming Museum projects.

 

Temporarily closed due to Covid-19
We are working closely with the University of Cambridge on plans to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so in line with public health guidance, and are working with our partners to revise our programme in light of the current crisis. We will announce our plans and details of reopening in due course.
More information







May 18, 2020

In this series of blogs our collections move volunteers will tell you all about their experiences of the ‘Moving a Mountain’ project so far. This week they tell us about the different specimens they’ve seen.


Apr 24, 2020

Our first online exhibition ‘Dawn of the Wonderchicken’, is now live!



Apr 20, 2020

The Museum may be closed to visitors, but we are still open online to help you identify your rock and fossil finds remotely.


Sedgwick Museum Collections and Research centre


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Support this project

If you would like to discuss how you might contribute to the Sedgwick Museum Collections Store, please contact Professor Richard Harrison, Head of Department.

To make a donation to the Sedgwick Museum Collections Store please visit our online giving page.

Studying Earth Sciences at Cambridge University

Discover more about studying Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge in this video featuring Museum Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology Professor Marian Holness and Sir David Attenborough