Welcome, I’m Natalie Watson, a freelance heritage consultant and project manager based in Somerset, UK. I have a passion for history and community heritage and have spent my career working in museums and archives.
A little about my background
As a heritage professional, I have worked in the museum sector in the southwest since graduating with a degree in archaeology from the University of Bristol. My main focus has been roles that allow me to create and implement large-scale developmental projects, as well as provide on-the-ground advice and support to professionals and volunteers on a wide range of topics. The broad spectrum of work encompasses not only collections care, but also research skills, business planning, digital development, marketing, fundraising, learning and advocacy.
My role as Museum Development Officer (MDO) for Somerset consisted of coordinating support and providing advice to over 55 museums and heritage organisations and around 100 community groups. Through this, and my voluntary roles with the SW Federation of Museums & Art Galleries (SW Fed) and CPD work, I have built up extensive networks across the museums and archive sector. My active role in networks of professionals and organisations allows me to advise on any aspect of business and collections development.
Take a look at my previous experience below to find out more.
Director of the Alfred Gillett Trust
Based in Street, Somerset, the AGT holds the archives and museum collections of C & J Clark the shoemakers and the Quaker family that established the company 200 years ago.
My role here involved acting as chief executive, providing strategic direction for the CIO and day-to-day management of its staff, volunteers, resources, and activities. Duties include managing a £500k annual budget, a Grade II listed building, fundraising targets, 15 members of staff, an annual activity programme and provide a contracted heritage service to a corporate partner.
My major achievements included the implementation of collections management procedures and systems, transfer from a charity to a CIO, the negotiated purchase of 100,000 items of cultural significance from C & J Clark, raising £4m in funds for a new museum and large object storage facility, the relocation of major parts of the collections to new storage, and the establishment of a contracted heritage service to C & J Clark Ltd.
Digitisation Project Manager (and Collections Manager) at the Alfred Gillett Trust
I began with the AGT managing a £1m partnership project for C & J Clark Ltd. to digitise the heritage collections of the shoemaking company. Using digital photography, scanning and digital transfer I oversaw the digitisation of a range of different object and archives types, including 25,000 shoes, 18,000 adverts, 2,500 films and 5,000 documents.
My duties included establishing and managing the project plan and budget, recruiting and managing a project team, developing digitisation and documentation standards, installation of a new computer system, studios and collection management systems, and the transfer and normalisation of collections data.
Whilst in this role I was promoted to Collections Manager to deliver best practice collections care to the historic collections of the Trust. My duties included deputising for the Director, line managing six members of staff, developing and implementing collections management policies and procedures, providing training and managing the Adlib collections database. A significant part of the role was to continue the previous role managing the digitisation projects for C & J Clark Ltd., which were completed in 2021.
Senior Museum Consultant with Planning Solutions Ltd.
I worked as a freelance specialist heritage advisor for a firm offering a range of management and consultancy solutions to the Visitor Attractions and UK holidays sectors. My duties included advising on museological issues, researching case studies and writing reports on a range of income generation themes including retail, marketing, admission, and cafés.
Museum Development Officer at Somerset Heritage Service (now SW Heritage Trust)
For nearly seven years, I was employed by Somerset County Council and funded by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to act as an advisor to 55 museums, archives and heritage attractions in Somerset.
My duties included providing professional advice and support on all museum areas, including collections care and management, fundraising, Accreditation, training, volunteering, ethics and publicity. Maintaining social networks and websites. Providing project management, curating exhibitions and volunteer recruitment. Running learning sessions in schools and outreach events. Liaising with partners inside and outside of the heritage sector including tourism.
My key achievements during this time included generating £150,000 of external funding for developmental projects, organising two Heritage Roadshows, creating research projects and reports on volunteering and sustainability, two multi-partner exhibitions and the nationally recognised Somerset Routes tourism project.
Project Advisor at Cornwall Record Office
After completing the NLHF project, I worked with Cornwall Record Office for 1 month as a freelance consultant to produce a report into the community heritage aspects of the digital tithe-mapping project for South West England. My duties included report writing, assimilating project information and the presentation of data.
Outreach Project Co-ordinator: “My History Our Heritage” Project
After graduating, I was employed to manage a community outreach project in partnership with nine community museums in Cornwall funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (now NLHF). This aimed to engage the public with community archives and encourage the digitisation of personal collections.
My duties included liaising with heritage centres, archives, and local history groups, organising events and displays, demonstrating computer archiving software, encouraging participation in archive studies, collecting and cataloguing new archive material, managing the project budget and reporting, selecting and purchasing equipment, arranging training courses, handling publicity, promotion and media coverage of events.
Student Mentor at University of Bristol
Jul 2004, Jul 2005
Whilst studying at University I was employed by the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology to act as a supervisor and mentor to A-Level students participating in a residential archaeology summer school as part of the Government’s Widening Participation Scheme. My duties included supervising students, coordinating activities and general student support.
Whilst studying for my A-Level in Archaeology, and later my degree at the University of Bristol, I worked as a field archaeologist on various training, voluntary and academic excavations. My duties included undertaking geophysics, site surveying, excavation, finds identification and processing, cataloguing and report writing. These placements were usually 2-4 weeks in length.
- Jun-Jul 2006: Gruta da Olivera, Almonda, Portugal
- May-Jun 2006: Berkeley Castle Field school, Gloucestershire
- Sep 2005: South Cadbury Environs Project, Somerset
- Sep 2005: Stonehenge Riverside Project, Wiltshire
- July 2005: Archaeology Summer School 2005, Berkley Castle, Gloucestershire
- May-Jun 2005: South Cadbury Environs Project, Somerset
- Jun-Aug 2004: Archaeoservice Laarstraat Project, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
- Jul 2004: Hawkcombe Head Archaeology Summer School, Exmoor
- Jun 2004: Bradford-Upon-Avon Archaeology Summer School
- May-Jun 2004: University of Bristol Training Field School, Bradford-Upon-Avon
- Jun-Jul 2003: Shovel Down Project, Dartmoor
- Jul-Aug 2003: Exmoor Field School, Hawkcombe Head