Collections Trust conference 2019: information for attendees

Our 2019 conference, Keywords – finding the right words to find the right records, is now sold out. Apologies if you wanted to come but have not been able to buy a ticket. The information on this page is for all ticketholders, including speakers and exhibiting Spectrum Partners.




Date: Thursday 12 September 2019

If you’re coming to Leicester the day before, there is an optional pre-conference visit to the award-winning King Richard III Visitor Centre, and also a suitably-themed pub quiz. Follow the links for further details.

Venue: New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester

If you have not visited this renowned civic museum before, you are in for a treat. Click here to find out more from the museum’s webpage.

The museum is approximately five minutes’ walk from Leicester’s railway station, so we recommend coming by train if possible. Click here for a map showing the recommended walking route from the station.

If you are coming by car, there are several car parks within walking distance. Click here for a map showing details of nearby parking options. If you have access needs, please contact Greta Kendall and we will book a parking space at the museum for you. Please also let Greta know if you have any dietary needs you have not already told us about when you booked.

Start and end times:

09:30 Registration and refreshments
10:00 Conference starts
16:00 Networking
17:00 End

Please note that, unless you are an exhibiting Spectrum Partner, you will not be able to get into the museum until the doors open at 09:30.


As noted above, the conference is completely sold out and we have a waiting list of people eager to snap up any returned tickets. If you are now unable to come, please contact Greta Kendall as early as possible so that we can reallocate your ticket.

How to contact us:

If you have any other queries about any aspect of the conference, please email Greta Kendall. If you need to contact us either the day before the conference, or on the day itself, please call 0788 769 3041 (the mobile number of Outreach Officer Sarah Brown) as we will all be in Leicester.


Copies of the programme will be available to delegates at the conference and it can also be accessed and downloaded in advance here.

Programme for CT 2019 conference – Keywords


The following speakers are confirmed:

A new terminology platform for the cultural heritage sector
Phil Carlisle,  Data Standards Supervisor, Historic England
One of the things that has held back the development and use of controlled terminologies in UK museums is that we lacked a futureproofed way to publish and maintain them. Historic England has been working on a new terminology platform that will do exactly that, and plans to open it up to the rest of the cultural heritage sector. Phil Carlisle gives a sneak preview.

Searching for the holy tag(ging): how to get the most out of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus
Marjolein Stege, Senior Collection Registrar, Van Gogh Museum
With more than 5.1 million followers on social media, the Van Gogh Museum is one of the largest online museums. To stay in touch with the online visitor, new tags are needed to tell the whole story of Van Gogh from a more personal, human interest point of view. Marjolein Stege considers the challenge of integrating new ‘soft’ keywords (such as ‘friendship’, ‘brotherly love’ and ‘loneliness’) into a thesaurus that so far contains mainly object, material and technique terms.

Terminology features in collections management systems
Panel of Spectrum Partners, chaired by Sarah Brown, Outreach Officer, Collections Trust
Taking advantage of the fact that many of our Spectrum Partners will be attending the conference, this session compares the terminology features offered by a range of collections management systems, and gives both developers and users the chance to consider potential developments that would help museums get the most out of available term sources.

Revealing hidden histories
Helen Johnson, Museum Development Officer , West Midlands Museum Development (WMMD)
Do we have the keywords to reveal hidden histories from our collections, to tell stories which may be challenging, emotive or potentially contentious? This year WMMD is working with a number of museums to identify and research untold stories from underused areas of their collections. The project will support staff and volunteers to improve collections knowledge, update documentation and terminology, and deliver richer and more engaging interpretation to museum audiences.

Flat file to thesaurus: improving terminologies at the National Gallery
Rupert Shepherd, Collection Information Manager, The National Gallery
What do you do when you’ve inherited a flat list of keywords, but need a structured vocabulary to drive public information retrieval? In this pragmatic case study, Rupert Shepherd looks at the steps involved in moving the National Gallery from a digitised copy of the index to a printed catalogue, to a set of structured, hierarchical vocabularies used to control the terminology in its collections management system. He explains the practical benefits, including improved discoverability on the gallery’s website, and also considers what could have been done better.

Virtually shoes
Jane Seddon, Collections Manager, Northampton Museums and Art Gallery (NMAG)
NMAG, home of a Designated shoe collection, has been developing a terminology resource as part of its Virtually shoes project. This involved consulting target audiences – including shoe designers, historic costume experts, museum professionals, academics and students – on the information and the format they would want from an online catalogue. Jane Seddon explores the issues involved in balancing the terminology for this complex collection so that it met the needs of both specialists and everyday users. She also explains how the many project volunteers were trained to use the required terminology when cataloguing.

Developing specialist archaeological vocabularies
Dan Miles, Research Resources Adviser, Historic England
Historic England is developing standards and controlled vocabularies to improve the recording and reporting of archaeological specialist finds, in particular those from development-led investigations.  This responds to recent reports highlighting inconsistencies across the sector, as well as the desire to move towards adopting the FAIR principles and to make archaeological data reusable in the future. Dan Miles is also the convener of the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) and will explain its role in developing thesauri and other standards.

Keywords for documenting collections management processes
Marta Mroczek, Inventory Manager, British Museum
When Collections Trust drew up a list of published term sources mapped to relevant Spectrum units of information, it was striking how few were readily available to use in more ‘procedural’ terminology-controlled fields. Marta Mroczek has been working on exactly this kind of terminology to document things such as ownership status, object movement and collections audit. She also shows how the British Museum’s collection management system identifies and labels hazardous material, pest management, salvage priority and legal licences to comply with best practice and statutory obligations.

Linked Open Data: both sides now
Richard Light, Consultant and Software Developer
Is the Linked Data approach more useful than traditional terminology control? Richard Light shares his thoughts on the possibilities and challenges which Linked Data offers to the cultural heritage community. Museums have the opportunity to be both publishers and consumers of Linked Data, but what is involved and where do you start? Richard has tackled both challenges and will share his experience.

Navigating the V&A’s Collections Location Database
Pam Young, Collections Documentation & Procedures Manager, Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A)
The V&A’s location authority has been built up over the last 30 years, the result of gallery changes, redesigns and storage moves. In 2018 it was realised there were at least four ways the public could access object locations; most complementary, but some contradictory and none 100% accurate. This paper will look at how these have all been audited, refined and brought in line to aid visitor wayfinding. Pam will also look at how the lessons learned will feed into the V&A’s new sites in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Image: The New Walk, Leicester. George W Moore Henton (1861–1924). Courtesy of Leicester Arts and Museums Service.