Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Marie Harrison and I am a Sunday Custodian in the museums at Eton College. On my duty days, I open up whichever museum I happen to be working in, make sure everything is in order and that the museum is ready for the public.
As custodians, we meet and greet visitors to the museums and help them to understand and enjoy the displays, providing additional information and explanation as required. It is very important to the College that people feel welcome in the museums and galleries and that they enjoy their visits. Children are very welcome too, and we encourage them to engage with the exhibits and to participate in the various activities that are available to them.
We also ensure that the museum remains safe and that no damage is done to the items on display.
We are lucky enough to have opportunities to be involved with the museums in other ways, for example by contributing to the social media accounts, or by coming up with ideas for activities for children and families. Recently I had the pleasure of doing some research to support the Ancient Beings exhibition, which celebrated the return of some important Egyptian artefacts which had been out on loan to Johns Hopkins University in the USA.
In my ‘other life’, I run a small consultancy business and am preparing to return to Oxford University to study for a D. Phil.
What made you want to work in the Museums and Galleries at Eton College?
I confess that I have a rather soft spot for Henry VI, the founder of the College and love history. I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm with others and so the opportunity to work in the College museums seemed just too good to be true. The three museums (Natural History Museum, Museum of Eton Life and Museum of Antiquities) present such a wide range of material that it is impossible to tire of them. I can honestly say that I learn something new during each shift and that is a wonderful privilege! I particularly love the questions posed by children, which are often fundamental and challenging – just great!
Do you have a favourite item and why?
There are so many wonderful artefacts on display that it is extremely difficult to choose just one! However, I do love this bust of Henry VI, attributed to John Bacon (1740-1799) http://collections.etoncollege.com/object-fda-sc-56-2017.
Although it is a more recent imagining of this most unfortunate king, the sculptor has captured a gentle reflectiveness that sits well with contemporary accounts of the man. At present, the sculpture lives in the Museum of Eton Life and I hope that, once we are able to open our doors again, you will come and see him!
Marie has written more about Henry VI in her post Henry VI: From Progress to Pilgrimage https://etoncollegecollections.wordpress.com/2020/06/28/henry-vi-from-progress-to-pilgrimage/
Keep an eye on our blog and social media for more shared views across the summer months!