WMPeople: Helen Taylor, museum manager

• Helen Taylor joined us in February as our museum manager
• She’s overseeing the opening of our new Lock-Up museum at Steelhouse Lane.
• Her small team are also launching a pop-up museum in Coventry as part of UK City of Culture 2021.Helen TaylorThe day started with….
Cats and a cup of tea. I have two sphynx cats that like to bother me for a cuddle and their breakfast in the morning. I’m not a morning person at all, so I do the minimum amount possible but always make a cuppa.

I’m responsible for….
The West Midlands Police Museum . Working with heritage manager Corinne Brazier, we have responsibility for anything to do with the museum and heritage. At the moment, I’m mainly looking at what we have in the collection and working on interpretation and object research ready for when we open the new museum at Steelhouse Lane Lock-up in 2022

I joined up….
Because the museum is such an exciting project to work on. There are few people who get to set up a museum from scratch so it was a brilliant opportunity that I couldn’t miss out on. I already have museum skills with nearly 12 years’ experience but this job will allow me to build on my management experience. We already have some wonderful volunteers and I’m hoping to manage more in the future.

The department is…
Busy! There’s only two of us and we’re both very ambitious. We want to do everything we can to make the West Midlands Police Museum the best police museum in the country. We’re in the middle of delivering the new museum to open in 2022 as well as setting up a pop-up museum in Coventry for the City of Culture year which should be opening in June. We’ve also got other projects on the go, like collecting oral histories and sorting through the collection.

I got here….
Because I wanted a new challenge. I knew I’d be able to use my skills to deliver an exciting new project.

My typical day….
Probably can’t be summed up. There’s no typical day. One day I can be working with volunteers to catalogue the collection and the next I can be setting up our Heritage Advisory Board or writing museum policies. I generally work at Sparkhill where the old police museum is based.

My most memorable moment…
Is definitely seeing the Lock-up for the first time. It’s such a unique building, I’d never seen anything like it before. Then it was realising it was my job to turn it in a museum , a destination that people will want to visit.

The best part of the job…
Is working with the collection. I love getting hands on with objects especially if it has an interesting story to tell. I also really like working with our volunteers, they’re so knowledgeable and are really helping me learn about policing heritage.

The worst part of the job…
Is not being able to meet people in person at the moment because of CoVID-19. I only joined the force in February so I’ve not had chance to meet many people yet. And the force acronyms – I can never remember what they all mean.

If I didn’t do this job I’d…
Still be working in a museum or within heritage. It’s been so long since I’ve done anything else I can’t picture myself doing a job outside of the heritage sector. Maybe I would set up a tea and cat museum !

• To follow the progress of the museum follow @WMPHistory on Twitter or ‘The Lock Up’ on Facebook

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