How to interpret and understand the language of portraits' toolkit

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All museum and gallery visitors bring with them the ideal equipment for interpreting portraits – themselves. Whatever their age or background, they have immense amounts of useful prior knowledge that can be tapped into – knowledge, for example, about emotions conveyed through body language and facial expressions or about giving messages through clothing. This includes […]

Guidelines on the management of human remains

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This resource outlines professional guidelines concerning the storage, display, interpretation and return of human remains in ethnographical collections in the United Kingdom. These guidelines were adopted at the Museum Ethnographers Group Annual General Meeting on 23 May 1991 and revised at the Meeting on 7 April 1994. Clicking the link on this page will open this […]

Preparing fossils at the American Museum of Natural History

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Fossil preparators are highly skilled technicians who restore the naturally fractured bones and teeth of fossil to the original state, somewhat like art conservators restore damaged paintings and sculptures. When fossils arrive from the field, they are encased in plaster jackets, and the rock, or matrix, which was deposited around the fossils. Fossil preparation involves […]

Wasp collection at the American Museum of Natural History

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With over 32 million individual items, the American Museum of Natural History, New York is one of the world’s pre-eminent collections of Natural History. In this film, we take a behind-the-scenes tour of the world’s largest collection of wasp nests with James M. Carpenter, entomologist and curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology. The […]

A guide to film-making projects

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The UK Medical Collections Group ‘Medicine at the Movies’ project invited adult learners to use medical museums as inspiration to make a series of short films. Learners used the museums’ collections and spaces to develop their own stories about medicine and health. The project demonstrates how museums can be accessible and stimulating learning environments. It […]

Practical conservation guidelines for successful hospitality events in historic houses

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In seeking to make historic houses economically sustainable, many owners and managers are now using them to stage commercial hospitality events.The pressures of such events on fragile historic interiors can be enormous. English Heritage, which exists to promote the care and understanding of the historic environment, has produced this publication to give practical guidance on […]

Materials for storage and display

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Many of the materials available for storing or displaying objects can seriously damage an artefact because of their inherent properties. Some may cause physical damage because their surface is too rough, or because they expand and contract at a different rate to the objects. Others may release chemicals as they age which react with the […]

Guidance for exhibiting archive and library materials

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The exhibition of archive and library materials has the potential to damage documents and can even lead to loss if security measures are inadequate. Custodians of holdings should be aware of the risks involved from exposure to inappropriate environmental conditions, unsafe support methods and inadequate security provision and strive to maximise the safety of items […]

The effects of storage and display materials on museum objects

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Choosing the right materials for displaying and storing your items is one of the most important ways you can care for your collections. Storage and display materials contain chemicals, many of which can be unstable and react with museum objects. The wrong mixture of materials and objects can cause corrosion, discolouration and general deterioration, either […]

6 tips for increasing access to museum storage

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Museums have a huge amount of objects behind the scenes in their stores. They are getting better at opening up collections stores as the sector comes to realise that improving access is necessary if we are to make the most of our “hidden” objects and attract new audiences. It is also useful to show the […]

Standards for touring exhibitions

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Part of a series of ‘Standards in the Museum Care of Collections’ publications originally produced by the Museums and Galleries Commission between 1992 and 2004, this publication provides a comprehensive overview and recommended standards for touring exhibitions. The standard covers policies, research, schedules, budgets, care for visitors, educational materials, display cases, publicity, packing and storage and protection […]

Planning for effective museum interpretation - how to write an interpretive plan

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This resource is related to the Accreditation Standard 3.3.1, ‘The museum must exhibit the collections using a variety of interpretative methods.’ This is a practical guide for museums who are new to interpretive planning, or for those who want to update their planning skills. It explores: Who should be involved in the interpretive planning process? […]

Saying it differently - a handbook for museums refreshing their display

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This resource is related to the Accreditation Standard 3.3.1, ‘The museum must exhibit the collections using a variety of interpretative methods.’ The Say it Again, Say it Differently project (2002-2006), led to the compilation of this handbook, which provides practical suggestions for museums on developing effective and accessible written communications, displays, text and websites. Clicking the […]

Spectrum 4.0: Use of collections procedure

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The Use of collections procedure involves the management and documentation of all uses of and services based on collections and objects in the organisation. These include exhibition and display, education handling collections and the operation of objects, research and enquiries, reproduction and the commercial use of objects and associated documentary archives. Users include staff (and […]

Gallery text at the V&A - a ten point guide

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This resource can support museums in achieving the Accreditation Standard 3.3.1, ‘The museum must exhibit the collections using a variety of interpretative methods.’ These guidelines are a quick survey of the main principles of writing good gallery text. They focus on creating gallery text that is interesting, engaging and accessible for a wide audience, recognising […]