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A year in the life of an NTS intern

Charlotte Tomlin has recently completed her year as the latest Icon Intern supported by the Bute Memorial Fund at the National Trust for Scotland. Here she reflects on this opportunity and the highlights from a truly inspiring year. 


As my internship with the National Trust for Scotland draws to a close and I begin to reflect on all that I have experienced and learnt in the past 12 months I find it hard to believe that this wonderful experience is actually nearly over. In some ways it feels like I have been with the Trust for years as I have managed to fit an enormous amount into a very short time, but it also feels like no time at all since I was arriving at Trust headquarters for the first time wondering where my internship would take me. Any worries that I had harboured about whether I would spend the entire internship making tea and doing paperwork were quickly dispelled as I was soon absorbed into my first project; a filming project no less!

Working with one of my supervisors, new colleagues and external contractors I assisted in the planning and undertaking of a complex collection decant so that a TV crew could film in the historic interiors of Newhailes House. During the filming I was able to work closely with the Trust Filming Manager and was invited to shadow a Project Conservator as she supervised the TV crew on site. I was able to develop my skills gained from this initial experience later on in the internship when, during another filming project at Culross Palace, I was able to supervise a TV crew independently.

2.jpgAnother highlight from my internship was the opportunity to be involved with a large-scale upgrade of the environmental monitoring system at the Trust. Until now each property had its own standalone RH and light monitoring system that could only be accessed and controlled from the property. With this upgrade environmental data from each site can be accessed remotely which will hopefully improve monitoring and control of the environment at all Trust properties. I supported my second supervisor with the upgrade which has enabled me to become very familiar with environmental monitoring systems (and allowed me to travel further afield to visit Trust properties that I may not have been able to see otherwise)!

There have been many other projects that I have contributed to during my internship: a collection decant on the Isle of Canna; the installation of UV film at Culzean Castle; staff training at the Collection Care Workshops and emergency response to a leak at an historic property to name a few. All of which have been fantastic projects to be a part of and have greatly contributed to my professional development. In addition to this, the opportunities offered by my internship to attend training sessions, organise studio and museum visits and join professional conferences have been invaluable to me in increasing my experience and widening my perspectives in conservation. Some of the highlights have been undertaking the Historic England Salvage and Disaster Response course; visiting fellow interns at National Trust and the Bowes Museum and attending the IIC Congress on Preventive Conservation in Turin, made possible by a generous grant from the June Baker Trust.

Now at the end of my internship I am able to confidently state that this has been the best start I could have wished for as an emerging Preventive Conservator. The fantastic opportunities offered by my supervisors at the Trust, the substantial support network provided by Icon and the generous bursary from the Bute Memorial Fund have provided strong foundations for professional development. My advice to others considering an Icon internship is to jump at the opportunity, if you fully commit to the internship, you will not be disappointed.

With thanks to my supervisors Mel Houston ACR and Julie Bon ACR, my Icon Advisor Sarah Gerrish ACR, my colleagues at the National Trust for Scotland and Patrick Whife at Icon. Thanks also to the Bute Memorial Fund and the June Baker Trust for funding me.

All pictures © National Trust for Scotland


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