Here you can find our latest blog posts, covering a range of collections management topics from across the museum world, including our campaigns #BanishThatBacklog, #ItsGoodToShare and #EmpoweringCollections.
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Staff and volunteers from around 40% of UK museums are without access to the collections information they need to work remotely from home. That’s the headline finding of a survey by Collections Trust in the first few weeks of the nationwide lockdown. It’s a problem of basic digital resilience affecting museums large and small.
AI technologies have great potential to help us discover meaning in museum collections, says Kevin Gosling, but they need to be trained using big data at a scale that’s currently hard for most institutions to delivers currently hard for most institutions to deliver.
Marjolein Stege from the Van Gogh Museum makes the case for what she calls ‘emotive’ terms.
Pam Young, Collections Documentation and Procedures Manager at the V&A, describes how the museum audited and refined its location authorities to ensure visitors can find what they’re looking for.
Kevin Gosling, Chief Executive of Collections Trust, introduces a recently-published study, commissioned by DCMS, into the feasibility of mapping and connecting digitised cultural collections with a view to making them searchable across organisations and disciplines.
A project examining how sensory and digital displays can create a more inclusive approach to museum collections is the subject of this guest blog post from Rebecca Sweetman, Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology, and Alison Hadfield, Learning and Access Curator, Museum Collections Unit, both at University of St Andrews.
Claire Sussums, Assistant Director for Content at the Museum of London, recently caught up with friend and former colleague Frances Lloyd-Baynes, Head of Collections Information Management at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), to compare their experiences of more than two decades managing collections on either side of the Atlantic.
On 12 December 2018 we held an hour-long Twitter session to let you know a little more about our new documentation procedural manual resource. We had a lot of insightful comments, queries and poll results, so we decided to put them all together for anyone who missed it.
Dave Russell, Collections Volunteer at National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, writes about what his museum has learnt from participating in the ‘banish the backlog’ programme, and shares his thoughts on achieving a balance between improving inventories and detailed cataloguing.
Ipswich Museum was a highly-commended runner-up for the 2018 Collections Trust Award. Here, Collections and Learning Curator Dr Kate Riddington explains how the museum streamlined what can often be the most time-consuming part of any inventory project: reconciling objects listed in stores against a range of existing documentation.
The British Schools Museum have created a documentation procedural manual, which sets a useful example for appropriate contents and structure when creating your own procedural manual for Accreditation.
Gallery Oldham have been collecting and caring for varied objects, from historical items and artworks to natural history specimens, since 1883. In this guest blog post Gallery Oldham’s Collection Assistant, William Longshaw, tells us about an object that ‘came back from the brink’ during a recent collections rationalisation programme.
Our ‘Banish the Backlog’ campaign has been focusing on the gaps in collection inventories, but museums face many other types of backlog. In this guest blog post Caitlin Peck, Curator at the Museum of East Anglian Life, tells us about their new initiative for getting up-to-date with digitisation.
In this guest blog post Natalie Heidaripour, Museum Resilience Project Officer, Archives & Heritage, at Staffordshire County Council tells us about the launch of a new website and guide on interpretation for historic carriage collections.
Over the last year our Outreach Officer, Sarah Brown, has travelled across the country to promote good practice in collections management, funded by Arts Council England. In particular Sarah has provided support and training for small and medium-sized museums, responding to local needs identified by the Museum Development Network in England.
As part of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum’s wider efforts to tackle their cataloguing backlog Ariel Lin, MA student in Art Museum and Gallery Studies at the University of Leicester, worked on a collection of medical equipment, recently donated to the museum. She wrote about her experience cataloguing, researching and curating a temporary exhibition around the donation on the Royal Pharmaceutical Journal website.
In this guest post, Anne Lord shares her experience at Colne Valley Museum, which relies entirely on volunteers. A volunteer herself, Anne reflects on the challenges and successes of the museum’s collections management work, including a current HLF-funded collections digitisation project. This post is adapted from her presentation at Collection Trust’s conference in September 2017.
Naomi Russell, Project Assistant at the Museum of London, has written this guest blog post looking at the rationalisation of the Social and Working History collections at the museum. With over 100,000 objects involved in the project, it was a huge undertaking that aimed to improve the collection, benefit other institutions through disposal of objects and ensure the Museum was applying its collections development policy correctly.
In this guest blog, Professor Sharon Macdonald and Dr Jennie Morgan from the Department of Sociology at the University of York address the topic of museum disposal. They share insights gained from a different context—household decluttering—to prompt new ways of approaching and thinking about disposal. While it is perhaps no longer considered ‘controversial’ or a ‘dirty word’ in the ways it once was, there persists (as Director of the Museums Association Sharon Heal put it earlier this year) a ‘shying away’ from disposal.
This is Collection Trust’s response, in 2017, to the #CultureisDigital consultation on cultural infrastructure by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It asks DCMS to make programme funding available to one of the government-sponsored national bodies to take responsibility for the infrastructure needed to bring together collections information from UK museums and make it available for re-use.
In an excerpt from her blog post, Ruth Burwood, Museum Development Project Officer for Collections for SHARE Museums East, reflects on the highs and lows of collections review and rationalisation, and shares some top tips.
The guest blog this week comes from Amisha Karia, Head of Collections & Programming at Paintings in Hospitals. Amisha describes the background to the inspiring Paintings in Hospitals collection and the practicalities and challenges of working with a collection that is frequently on display in environments often quite different to that of a museum or gallery. The amazing response from those who connect to the artworks demonstrates the positive social impact the collection has.