Pulling together: Collections Trust 2017 Conference

Ploughing at Tebay, J Harden, Cumbria Image Bank - Conference image
Ploughing at Tebay, J Harden, courtesy of Cumbria Image Bank

Our conference was held on 21 September 2017 at The Hospitium in York.

We will be adding some guest blog posts from the speakers’ presentations over the next few weeks.

Being responsible for collections management can feel like ploughing a lone furrow. But it’s actually a museum-wide task that needs everyone to pull together – from the governing body to the people on the front desk.

This year’s Collections Trust conference considered the human side of documentation systems, the people who capture and share information that gives museum objects meaning.

Conference programme

We are grateful to our Spectrum Partner Vernon Systems for sponsoring the printing of this year’s conference programme booklet.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

15.30 – ‘Meet the curator’ with Andrew Woods, Senior Curator of Yorkshire Museum

Join us for a chance to explore the Viking: Rediscover the Legend exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum.

Two of the most significant and internationally recognised collections of Viking Age treasure in Britain have been brought together for the first time in this major new exhibition.

Star objects from the British Museum feature alongside the Yorkshire Museum’s world class collections and are interpreted in new ways to give a fresh perspective on how the Vikings shaped every aspect of life in Britain.

19.30 – Informal networking dinner

Join us for an informal networking dinner at 31 Castlegate Restaurant.


Thursday 21 September 2017

09.30 – Registration and refreshments

10.00 – Welcome
Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker

The chair of Collections Trust introduces the 2017 conference and sets the scene for the day.

10.15 – Keynote: The craft of people-wrangling
Dr Eve Poole

Working within an organisation can sometimes feel dis-empowering. We often imagine that those above us, or in clearer roles, are more able to make things happen. In fact, leadership is the same at all levels: it is the daily craft of getting things done through others, often with little real power, but through the skilful use of influence and charm. This inspiring keynote explores the main skills involved, and suggests an approach to them that is easy to master but offers real traction.

11.00 – A credit to Accreditation
Philip Claris, Head of Collections Management, National Trust

Philip Claris has overall responsibility for collections management at the National Trust’s museums – nearly one in ten of all Accredited museums. But because of the way the Trust is structured, he has no direct operational authority over any of them. Here he reflects on the challenges this brings, and explains how he gets things done.

11.30 – Break

11.45 – Working with volunteers
Most museums, even those with paid staff, rely on dedicated volunteers for much of their collections management work. This session considers from both sides – volunteers and those who manage them – what makes an effective back-of-house volunteer programme.

Dan Hudachek, Collections Officer, Beamish Museum 

Dan Hudachek will share how Beamish Museum has been involving staff and volunteers, usually responsible for engagement and front of house activity, in key collections management work. The project has helped build internal understanding and appreciation of traditionally ‘back of house’ activities, which can now also be highlighted and communicated effectively to visitors.

Anne Lord, Volunteer, Colne Valley Museum

Anne Lord will share her experience at Colne Valley Museum, which relies entirely on volunteers. A volunteer herself, Anne will reflect on the challenges, but most importantly the successes, of their collections management work including a current HLF funded collections digitisation project.

12.15 – Your questions answered
Sarah Brown, Outreach Officer, Collections Trust (chair)

In this panel discussion, Eve Poole and Philip Claris are joined by Alan Bentley of Museum Development Yorkshire. The panellists answer questions sent in by delegates – anonymously if need be – on how to get the best out of the people they need to pull together in order to manage their collections more effectively.

13.00 – Lunch

Over lunch, delegates will have the opportunity to talk to some of our Spectrum Partners who supply collections management software to museums of all sizes. There will also be an chance to explore the Yorkshire Museum, especially its current exhibition Viking: Rediscover the Legend, staged in partnership with the British Museum.

14.15 – Collections Trust Award
Kevin Gosling, Chief Executive, Collections Trust

The Collections Trust Award recognises the often-unsung achievements of those who manage the collections that lie at the heart of all museums. This year the award celebrates projects that show what can be achieved when everyone in a museum – from the governing body to all levels of staff and/or volunteers – works as one to tackle a collections management challenge. In this session we showcase some of these projects, and present the 2017 award to the winner.

Entry is open to all UK Accredited museums. For details see the Collections Trust Award page.

14.45 – Pulling together in an emergency
Ian Panter, Head of Conservation, and Christine McDonnell, Head of Collections and Archives, York Archaeological Trust

On Boxing Day 2015 York suffered severe flooding following the lifting of the river Foss defensive barrier. This talk recalls how Jorvik’s emergency planning enabled the rapid, but careful, removal of around 1000 artefacts from display before the place was inundated. Once the conservation team had retrieved the artefacts, the curatorial team swung into action ensuring everything was repackaged using appropriate materials, fully recorded and locked away securely or put on display elsewhere as the long work began to bring the museum back to life again. This talk considers the effectiveness of the emergency plan in responding to impending disaster, and what changes were needed post-recovery.

15.15 – Tackling the dreaded backlog
Anooshka Rawden, Collections Services Programme Manager, Science Museum Group. Sarah Norville, Documentation and Rail Heritage Manager, Science Museum Group.

Mobilising an organisation to tackle the dreaded backlog, which is often left on the back burner, can be a hard sell…so how can you enthuse people at all levels and keep them motivated? Anooshka and Sarah will discuss ideas for gaining that all important ‘buy in’ within an organisation, helping colleagues understand the benefits and therefore commit resources to something that is often not seen as a priority.

15.45 – Summary and thanks
Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker and Kevin Gosling

16.00 – Launch of Spectrum 5.0 and drinks reception

Finally, join us for drinks to mark the launch of Spectrum 5.0, the latest update of the UK collection management standard, and to thank all those who have helped along the way.

17.00 – End

Click on this link to view profiles for our conference speakers.

Click on this link for the conference FAQs with details of venues, recommended hotel and networking dinner.

 or follow us on Twitter for updates on the programme.