Thursday, 30 June 2011

tools are more tricky

We have been trying to plan our second collections session and it is depressing! Where is everything? Like many museums we have a computerised database that is meant to make it easy to locate objects in store - the only trouble is that too many of our locations are "Gressenhall" or "Unknown". I knew that the objects would be more difficult - but hadn't realised how disheartening it would be. I suppose the silver lining is that this process illustrates how important our Store Audit really is. We have a fantastic team of volunteers working through boxes, photographing objects, carrying out necessary conservation work and then creating contents lists and updating the database. Occasionally tedious, but essential work. Just how essential I am beginning to find out.

The other depressing thing is a lack of storage and working space. Despite being on a 60 acre site we never have enough room. We are always trying to balance the competing demands of modern farm machinery, collections, learning equipment and display space. Sometimes it feels like collections storage comes last in the list. For example we have "Gressenhall" locations for three wheelbarrows that we would like to use in our next monument session - but actually lcoating them has proved impossible. The most likely location is practically inaccessible because it is extremely crowded. So whilst the barrows may be safe in the barn we are not able to get into it to find them or much less get them out for people to look at in the time or with the equipment we have available.

Ho hum - there are lots of fantastic things about this project - it isn't all bad! I am loving working on researching the collections but perhaps even more passing that information on to my colleagues and thinking how we could use it across the museum. I was working today on our informal project newsletter - Collections Corner. The idea is that this will continue to be circulated after the end of the Fellowship so that we can all continue to learn more about the collections that are the unique selling point of the organisation. It covers a particular theme in the collection, tells some of the stories recorded in the collections and then suggests some ways in which these objects and stories could be used across the museum. Working on this just reminds me why I am a curator - an enthusiasm for objects and the things they tell us about life - and a love of passing on this enthusiasm. I just hope that our first edition of Collections Corner - due out before mid July - receives a positive reception!

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