Meet the Team: Megan, University Placement Student

Here is a special blog post from Megan, an Archaeology Student from University who is undertaking her placement here at Craven Museum:

I have just recently begun a year long work placement here at Craven Museum as part of my Archaeology degree at Bradford University. I am particularly interested in Greek and Roman history (and there are plenty of Roman Artefacts here at the Museum! My particular favourite one is the Roman intaglio, an oval shaped amethyst with a scene from Greek mythology on it)



Roman Intaglio from Craven Museum


So far I have been working with the amazing staff as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project to redevelop the Museum. At the moment, we are focusing on prepping the objects for storage whilst the Museum is redeveloped. As part of this, I’ve been helping to sort  through the Archaeology drawers, identifying what objects are in them and then checking them on the Museum catalogue.

Megan - Placement student 1

Megan looking through boxes of archaeological material

The move also means I have also been finding homes for items that were on display (such as boxes in the Museum Store containing objects that are similar in some way), as well as helping find interesting objects for the pop up displays across Craven whilst we are closed; and repacking the archaeology boxes which are full of all different types of treasures! The collection has all sorts of amazing objects from a plethora of Roman coins to human remains to an ancient Megalodon (a giant prehistoric shark) tooth!


Megan - Placement student 2

A juvenile Megalodon tooth 

I constantly feel the need to get up close and personal with the objects and ask lots of questions. Who did this item belong to? Where did it come from? Who made it? What is the story behind this item? I am loving my placement so far and cannot wait to see what other exciting tasks I will be doing over the coming months as well as getting to know the collection better.


It’s closing time…

Craven Museum is now closed!

Today was the first day of closure until the grand reopening in 2020, and it was very strange to see the Museum so quiet, with no visitors to the Museum, and without Sir Patrick Stewart’s dulcet tones narrating information about the Shakespeare First Folio.


Jenny and Rachel beginning to pack up the Museum displays

Although today was the first day being closed, the Museum team have wasted no time getting stuck into the mammoth task of packing up the Museum in preparation of our redevelopment. Rachel, the Museum and Collections Officer, and Jenny, the Museum Assistant, have already started the process of putting objects on display back into their boxes in the Museum store.


Jenny taking objects off display


It will take quite a while to ensure that all the objects currently on display are packed away safely, and into the right location. A lot of objects in our collection are often old and/or fragile, so packing them correctly is very important to keep the objects safe whilst they are in storage. All of the objects in the Museum have their own unique number (called an ‘Accession’ number), and whenever an object is moved from display back into the Museum Store, we have to make sure that we update the Museum catalogue with their new location. This means that we can track and find everything and that we know where each of the objects is stored, extremely useful when transferring 60,000 objects!


Packing up one of the objects on display to go into the Museum store

If you want to find out more about how we will be packing up the Museum Collection, come along to our special behind-the-scenes Museums at Night Event ‘That’s a wrap!’. We’ll be showing you how we pack fragile objects and challenge you with our great egg-packing competition. We will also have staff on hand to answer your questions on the best ways to store your own vintage treasures. For more information, have a look at our website here.

(also, if you find yourself missing Sir Patrick Stewart talking about the Shakespeare First Folio as much as we do, you can hear him chatting about the Folio here- we’ll be putting it on repeat!)

Just over a week to go!

It’s been a busy summer here at Craven Museum, not only with lots of visitors to the Museum and events such as our family Make and Take crafts sessions (thank you very much to everyone who came – our last one is Thursday 30th August, hope to see you there!), but also lots taking place behind the scenes.

As part of the redevelopment of Craven Museum, our doors will close and the collection safely stored away whilst walls are taken down, rebuilt, and our brand new Museum, Store and Education space are constructed. With 60,000 objects in the collection, it’s a big undertaking to pack it up and ensure that everything is safe.


After lots of hard work from the Museum team during the summer, Craven Museum is getting ready to close on the 3rd September, in just over 1 weeks’ time. This means our last day open will be on the 1st September.

It will be strange to close the Museum and not have visitors enjoying the displays, but it means that Rachel, the Museum and Collections Officer, and Bryan, the Collections Assistant, can start packing the objects away carefully and methodically, to ensure that the objects are safe and secure for the next 18 months whilst the redevelopment takes place. Once the new Museum and Store are ready, the objects will return to Craven Museum, with brand new displays, interpretation and storage.

Although the Museum itself will be closed from September, we will still be doing activities and events throughout this period, including taking part in a special ‘Museums at Night’ this October, where we are inviting you to come and hear how we plan to pack up our amazing collections from Hippo skulls to magic lanterns, and have a go yourself with our great egg-packing competition. Have a look at our Skipton Town Hall website for more information and how to book (click the link below).

Skipton Town Hall – What’s On

We’ll also be creating pop up displays across the district (including in locations that you might not expect!), conducting outreach workshops with local schools and community groups, and special events taking place all around Craven. There’ll also be the chance to work closely with aspects of the Museum Collection that we will be keeping out of storage as a volunteer, helping us do vital work on the objects.

So, although we’re closing the Museum, we are certainly not stopping engaging as many people as possible in the rich and amazing heritage of Craven! We’ll be keeping people up to date with what’s happening during this period via this blog and our social media pages, and we are currently working on a special project in partnership with Craven College which will allow us to delve further into the project and the ‘behind the scenes’ work that goes into the redevelopment of a Museum… stay tuned!


A Make and Take Summer

The sun is (sort of) shining, the summer holidays are here, and we are excited for our Summer drop-in Make and Take family sessions!

We had our first Make and Take sessions back in the Easter Holidays, and it was great to see so many people taking part, so we’ve scheduled more for this summer. Our first one is this Monday (23rd July), and all about Knights and Dragons. Have a look at the sessions here and put the dates in your diaries:

Knights and Dragons – 23rd July 2018 | 10am- 12pm | FREE  Calling all knights and dragon slayers! We’ll be decorating helmets to prepare all budding knights, and creating a very big dragon.

Film Fun -2nd August 2018 | 10am- 12pm | FREE   Join us in celebrating our Yorkshire mini film festival by creating your own Thaumatrope (a Victorian illusion toy!).

Romans – 6th August 2018 | 10am- 12pm | FREE  Create Mosaic Coasters, inspired by the Romans in Craven.

Potty for Pottery – 16th August 2018 | 10am- 12pm | FREE  Create a prehistoric pot with clay, inspired by the Museum collections. 

Pop-up Puppets– 20th August 2018 | 10am- 12pm | FREE Decorate card puppets and make your own show!

Pirates! -30th August 2018 | 10am- 12pm | FREE  Come and join us in making pirate ships. Ahoy!

Our Make and Take sessions are part of the Summer Workshop programme taking place in Skipton Town Hall throughout the summer and vary from artist workshops, circus skills, poetry and Chinese Calligraphy to name just a few. For more information, have a look on the Skipton Town Hall website here:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Craven Museum – Now in 3D! continued…

We mentioned a few blog posts ago that we will be using our new skills and photogrammetry know-how to get a local youth group involved in the collection – and here is a glimpse of how it’s been going!

Greatwood Youth Group have been coming to the Museum after school to learn how to use photogrammetry to create 3D digital models of objects in the collection, with a focus on objects found in local Caves, and during this May half term, they joined us for a whole day session to really get their teeth into the process!

First of all we went over how to take photographs – it might seem like a bit of a silly and very easy step, but the quality of the photos can really affect how the final model turns out, so it was extremely important to get this part right.


The pictures have to show enough light to show the object, and ensure that there aren’t any extreme shadows as this might confuse the software. This is why we use a pop-up light tent and two lights to try and make sure that the light was diffused nicely. We also played around with the different settings on the camera to adjust how much light and ‘noise’ the camera picked up – it was interesting playing around with the settings, and understanding how they can affect the final photo.


Once we finished taking photos of the objects (ensuring that we had got all sides of the object photographed and overlapped the photos nicely), we then moved on to using the software and going through the process of masking the photos and creating the 3D models!


There were some fantastic models created, including a Mesolithic Bone and Antler Chisel, a Brown Bear Claw, and a Bronze Age Axehead- have a look below!

It’s been really great to have the Greatwood Youth Group here creating the models – not only was it brilliant fun teaching them some new skills, but the models they have created have helped us as a Museum to interpret the objects in a new and innovative way, so we can tell the story of the Craven area, and  get the objects out and engaging more people.

We hope we will be able to continue to create new models with the Youth Group, and we will be using these on our website (and on this blog, of course!) to help tell the story of Craven, and as part of our displays for the newly redeveloped Museum!


Volunteer’s Week!

It’s Volunteer’s Week!

To celebrate Volunteer’s Week and the amazing work our Volunteers do here at the Museum and as part of this project ‘Stories and Treasures of Street and Dale’, one of our new Collections volunteers, Louise, has written a blog post. Have a look below!

I’ve only recently started volunteering at Craven Museum but I’m already completely hooked! I had been looking for a new volunteer role for a while – something that would stimulate my mind and hopefully provide me with new skills – I was thrilled to be accepted as a volunteer here.

The collection we are working on is very eclectic; it’s exciting and so fascinating that sometimes it’s hard to stay focussed – not to go off on a tangent researching answers to questions raised (but I do it anyway when I get home). We are cataloguing items and adding them to the museum’s database, and I have to say Lizzie is a very patient and informative trainer, and she makes it fun too. The only problem I have so far is that the days seem to be over too quickly and I can’t wait for my next session.


It’s surprising how something as simple as an old invoice from a local business or some long-unseen mill-worker’s artefacts can raise so many questions and inspire further study. That’s what it’s all about though isn’t it – digging around in history and learning more about our past? I‘ve definitely come to the right place.


If you would be interested in Volunteering here at the Museum, have a look at our opportunities here:


A Mammoth Task!

As part of ‘Stories and Treasures of Street and Dale’, we have been hosting students from local schools for their work experience weeks – recently we’ve hosted Dan, who spent the week helping set up for events at the Museum, shadowing curators, and measuring and researching objects in the collection for the Museum Designers, who will use this information to help design the new Museum.


We also set him a mammoth task – to create a 3D model of a Mammoth tooth using photogrammetry!


Museum staff took him through the steps and taught him how to take photographs, and use Agisoft Photoscan software to create the 3D model – and you can see the final product here:


It is a fantastic model of the object, giving a full 360 degree look at an object in the collection not normally on display. Have a close look at the tooth – can you spot its unique Museum (or ‘Accession’) number?


Well done Dan!

We are all in a spin!

We had an amazing Museums At Night event last week, and a big thank you to everyone who came along!


Despite the beautiful weather, the Royal Wedding, and the football, we had lots of people attending our ‘From Sheep the Cloth’ event, where we celebrated the heritage textiles of Craven, with lots of opportunities to get involved – we had the Craven Lacemakers, Skipton Embroiderers Guild, the Weavers Spinners and Dyers, and our very own staff and volunteers conducting demonstrations and offering everyone a chance to get stuck in. From learning how to use a drop spindle to create yarn, having a go at creating a lace snake, creating a beautiful Dorset button, to using natural dyes (including onion, red cabbage and even tea!) to colour cloth, there was lots to try out.

We thought we would put some photos up for you to have a look at – we are planning something very special for our next Museums at Night this October… so keep an eye out!


Craven Museum – Now in 3D!

I mentioned in our last blog post that we have been having some staff training here at Craven Museum. And not just any staff training, but training in creating 3D computer models of Museum objects through photogrammetry!

For those who haven’t heard of photogrammetry before, according to Wikipedia it’s:

‘The science of making measurements from photographs, especially for recovering the exact positions of surface points.’ 

Which may or may not have cleared that up. Photogrammetry is essentially taking lots of photographs and overlapping them digitally to create a 3D model; this technology is used by game developers, archaeologists who use it to create quick 3D images of sites and excavations, and Museums which have begun to use this technology to create 3D models of objects in their collections. You can even (if you have access to a 3D printer) create a 3D printed model of an object.

Our training took place over 2 days with Ashley Fisher who patiently took us through all of the steps, from taking the photographs, to using the photogrammetry software and exporting the digital models – she even created a handy guide for us to use after the training.

After choosing an object from the collection, we were tasked with taking about 20-40 photographs from different angles around the object, making sure that the photos overlapped enough to ensure that the software was able to match the photographs easily.

Then we uploaded the photos to the photogrammetry software – we are using Agisoft Photoscan – and began the long, looong process of masking all of the photos. Masking ensures that only the object you want to create a 3D image of is selected rather than everything in the photo. The easiest way we found was to draw around the object, but it did take a while to get into the rhythm of it! I ended up being a bit snap-happy with my object (60+ photos which I immediately regretted at the masking stage!


Rachel masking part of an Ichthyosaur jaw


Rachel and Lizzie continuing to mask the Ichthyosaur jaw

Once the masking process had been completed (with a lots of pauses, hand massages and cups of tea!), it was time for the software to do its thing. This gave us time to chat and consult Ashley about a very special project we will be starting shortly with a local youth group, which will be using our new skills and photogrammetry know-how, and making sure that we had everything we needed to get going with the group. We also needed to check that the objects we had selected were going to work, as not everything is suitable for photogrammetry. If an object is very shiny or see through (such as glass), the software just gets confused.

And suddenly we had some 3D models!


The 3D model of the Ichthyosaur jaw in Agisoft Photoscan

They are a bit holey, but for our first attempts they went well! And the Roman coin (which at one point turned into a ‘hoard’ with about five identical coins appearing all at once) images were so clear, we were able to decipher more of the writing around the edge than looking at the object with the naked eye. So even though they aren’t complete, we’ve uploaded them to Sketchfab, and you can have a look here (click on the 3D model and drag your mouse to move the object round):

We are very excited about what this can do for the Museum and the Collection. It’s a way of getting the collection ‘out there’, allowing for everyone to have a close look at the objects, especially those that aren’t able to be taken out of cases and examined this close normally. Especially with the Museum being closed later this year and the objects being safely stored away, this is a method of keeping the collection accessible. We can’t wait to create more models, and for our exciting photogrammetry project – keep an eye on this blog for an inside glimpse of what we’ll be doing!

BONUS TIP: If you have access to a pair of cardboard VR viewers, you can use your phone to view the object in all its 3D glory!

Lizzie- 3D

Lizzie trialing viewing the model in 3D using a cardboard VR viewer

First Month of ‘Stories and Treasures of Street and Dale’!


It’s been a busy first month of the project here at Craven Museum, where we have hit the ground running, from meetings with the Architects and Museum Designers of the project, staff training (more on that later!) to putting on family friendly activities.

Although the good weather has been reluctant, we tried to encourage the sun to shine with our spring themed Make and Take family craft sessions during the Easter holidays, and had over 120 people taking part, which was absolutely fantastic. We explored the bugs and butterflies in our Natural History Collection, with the children taking inspiration to create their own, and at our second session, we created some lovely spring flowers.

We even made an appearance at Skipton Triathlon with special objects from the Museum for everyone to come and have a look at, and we also took the opportunity to do some more activities – this time flags to help cheer on the participants!.

Featuring pom poms, foam shapes and glitter glue galore, we were bowled over by the amazing and imaginative bugs, butterflies, flowers and flags created! We are planning more Make and Take sessions in the summer holidays, so keep an eye out for more dates, and we hope to see you there!