Our museums are home to incredible collections. Here at the National Science and Media Museum, among other amazing collections, we host the oldest photographic negative taken by William Henry Fox Talbot as well as the camera used to capture the first ever moving pictures.
Such wide-ranging collections need dedicated care, including appropriate storage and packaging to protect and preserve them for the future. Our collections can arrive at the museum through a variety of paths: they may be purchased, transferred or donated. For various reasons, when they arrive at the museum they may not be stored in the most suitable way.
This is the case for two particular collections that needed repackaging to improve their storage. Working with our Curator of Library and Archives and our Conservation and Collection Care Manager, our marvellous Collection Care Volunteers have been helping to care for them appropriately.
One is a collection of 600 film posters—ranging from the 1930s to 1980—that was donated to us by the Merseyside Film Institute. The posters were unfortunately stored folded; this is damaging, as the paper deteriorates along the fold lines. Nonetheless, with the help of our enterprising yet caring volunteers, all posters have now been stored flat in appropriate new drawers. Alongside this process our volunteers have been able to collect some long-needed basic cataloguing information, such as the dimensions of each poster.
Volunteers have also started working on an exciting collection of artwork by animator Run Wrake. Run Wrake was a British animator and film director who created animations for MTV during the 1990s. After the collection was donated to the museum, volunteers have been working on moving Wrake’s animation drawings into conservation-graded boxes.
Our dedicated volunteers have been coming in once a week to work together in our research centre, Insight. They have been doing fantastic work and have made a real difference to the way these collections are cared for. We can now be confident they are appropriately packaged and preserved for the future. Through the project, volunteers have been developing their practical skills in collection care and cataloguing. They’ve also had an opportunity to get up close with collections that may not be readily shown to the public.
If you’re intrigued and would like to see first-hand some of the collections mentioned in this post, you can make an appointment to visit Insight by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to find out more about approaches we take to care and conserve our collections, you can also find out more by visiting Icon, the professional body for the conservation of cultural heritage.