Tea opens up the curator’s mind.
Just want to get something straight. The learning officer isn’t always ‘the fun one’ in the museum.
Purchasing conservation supplies is retail therapy for the curator.
Solander boxes. Unbleached cotton tape. Melanex sleeves. Acid free tissue. Goat hair brush. Distilled water. Tyvek. Humidity control cassettes. Nitrile gloves (S, M, L, XL). Solid brass paperclips. Book sofa. Light meter. Thermohygrometer. Plastazote.
Simple, yet fiendish, the art hang requires a different set of skills to the mounting of objects in showcases or for open display. What happens when:
Throw out the spirit level and trust thine eyes.
The documentation backlog was the bees-knees museum trend of the late 1990s/early 2000s. It sailed forth amongst the arguments over access vs preservation and rose above the fights for and against perpetuity. Any curator who has the luxury today of dealing with a documentation backlog will no doubt relish the task ahead. It’s probably the nearest today’s curator will get to the Joy of Cataloguing. The depressing bits usually involve a lack of paperwork showing what belongs to the museum and what doesn’t and discovering an entire filing cabinet of ‘long-term loans’ or even ‘permanent loans’. Many modern museums will not permit time to be spent on documentation backlogs meaning that collections will be properly prepared for the post-truth era.
“Lights, levels, labels… and action!”
The museum exhibition is the curator’s own art form. Stand aside.
Is an archive (series of documents) just another type of museum collection? No it is not. Archival and documentary collections are organised differently and the information they contain is (mostly) read rather than gleaned through observation, measurements and other forms of object research. However, sometimes you’re going to walk straight into Dilemma Avenue. Is a collection of photographs an archive or a set of objects? When is a manuscript book an archive and not an artefact? Context is everything. If 100 documents or papery writings come as a set you might like to threat them archivally. If you have two or three photographs as part of a donation you might be more tempted to keep them in situ and threat them as objects. What’s the most useful way you can organise archives for the benefit of your people?
Converting information into a digital format and preserving the data. That is all it is. Seriously.
The curator who wants to share collections freely and openly is saddened by the imperialistic appropriation of out of copyright works by virtue of creating a new slavish copy. The curator who wants to share collections freely and openly is saddened by the government licensing scheme for orphan works. The curator who wants to share collections freely and openly is saddened by the perpetuity in copyright imposed by corporate buy-outs. The curator dies bit by bit at every opportunity lost.
Any curator should get excited at receiving a loan request. Traditionally addressed to “The Director,” s/he will ceremonially pass on the request to us in the know to seamlessly deal with the transaction. The particular breed of curator that usually deals with loans out (and in) are the wonderful registrars. Facilities reports all OK; insurance certificate received; condition check done; packed up and ready for shipping (transport booked?). Job done.