Pre-emptive Spring Clean

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been beavering away in the Living Cultures stores with support from The University of Manchester Art Gallery and Museum Studies students Josh and Shelly, our British Museum Future Curator Kiera, and most critically our Curatorial Assistant Susan. We’ve been rationalising each store i.e. making more space available, and making sure that each object is stored appropriately. This is all part of the collections team drive to increase accessibility to our four million objects exponentially. Increasing access allows for further exploration of collections and means objects can be used to a greater extent in research, exhibitions and public events.

Kathryn inspecting our Igbo masquerade costume. Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection. 2014.

Kathryn inspecting the Igbo masquerade costume. Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection. 2014.

This drive has also allowed us to identify objects in need of immediate treatment. Our conservation interns Kathryn and Erin are currently treating a Qashqa’i saddle, Kiribati armour and an Igbo masquerade costume . These objects are being cleaned and further information regarding extent of use and construction is also being gleaned. This is all critical information which will be added to each of the object’s records.

Erin treating the Qashqa’i saddle. Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection. 2014.

Erin treating the Qashqa’i saddle. Manchester Museum Living Cultures collection. 2014.

The maintenance of collections is an ongoing curatorial duty and very much a team effort. The support of volunteers and colleagues alike in this endeavour is invaluable. Throughout 2014 this work will continue and I’m very much looking forward to Kiera starting her year-long placement with us in April. This week, however, Shelly, who has been instrumental in the transformation of the storage of the Americas collection, leaves us to return to the USA. I wish Shelly all the best for the future and thank her for all her hard work and dedication, I’m sure she has a glittering curatorial career ahead of her!

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