Old Curatorial Archive

A bad curator blames their tools

M-Shed, tells the story of Bristol especially its industrial and social history
M-Shed, tells the story of Bristol especially its industrial and social history

I have been a member of the Social History Curators Group (SHCG) for a few years now. Of all the professional groups and societies dedicated to museum and collections work I have found SHCG to be the most useful. Most degrees and qualifications in museum studies (or indeed heritage management) lack opportunities for sustained subject-specialist training unless it is part of an internship, vocational attachment or similar activity. That’s why SHCG and other curatorial networks are so important.

FirstBASE is SHCG’s recently launched online resources centre, an invaluable library of information for anyone dealing with social (and industrial) collections. SHCG also organises training events and when I saw one advertised for identifying tools I leapt at the opportunity. Here is my review, which will also appear in a forthcoming SHCG newsletter.

Training Review: What is it? Identifying mystery objects: trade tools

Venue: M-Shed, Bristol, 4 March 2013

I didn’t know a twybil from an adze before the training. By the end of the day I could enthusiastically explain the difference between a dado plane and a plough plane.

Old Curatorial Archive

Stop trashing our collections!

Over the last four or five years, even before the austerity thing, British cultural collections and internationally-important training and teaching in cultural heritage, have been seen by many institutions as an expensive inconvenience when neither of these has been the case. I just want to list here, so I get it straight in my head, which stories have taken my notice and made the words of my MA supervisor ring in my eyes: “You just have to believe in your heart that it is important and right.”

Closure of Textile Conservation Centre
Sell-off of objects and collections: Southampton, RCM
Mothballing of historic sites: Macclesfield Silk Mill
Outsourcing and sub-contracting services: Southampton
Using collections as a financial pawn: Wedgwood Museum
Eviction of Women’s Library
The Great Woodland Selloff (Kent)
National Grid for Learning mothballed
Creative Spaces gone, no notice to subscribers

Report: Digital Heritage:

For all of these examples are several others. Monthly I open my copy of the Museums Journal with a sigh. I flick through the news pages and my eye usually stops briefly at more depressing news, except apparently in Scotland where things seem to be done differently, perhaps.