With the year drawing to a close, Alix updates us on the progress of our major Anthropology collections review.
With the Collections People Stories project currently focusing on 'Health and Healing', we thought we’d give you an update on the review. By September we had reviewed 10,000 objects, a major milestone. Only 20,000 more to go…
Work started on objects for Health and Healing theme in December 2012. One team started by looking at beliefs, including religion, charms and magic, and have since moved onto toiletries and hygiene, medical science and narcotics and intoxicants.
The second team also worked on Health and Healing, but has primarily been finishing off the Food and Feasting theme and starting work on containers, which contains some food related items, but mainly falls under our next theme of Family and Home.
If you are wondering why the review teams seem to work to ‘sub-themes’, such as Narcotics and Intoxicants, it is because of the way our stores are arranged. When the stores were initially set out, objects were arranged thematically and then by country or continent.
This followed the model of the Pitt Rivers Museum, as there was a belief at the time that a comparison of similar objects told you more about the culture and people. Most anthropology museums now prefer objects to be arranged by country and then by use.
In addition to improving the object records and photography, the project is also beginning to improve storage conditions. Historically many objects were stored in special bags, but the museum now prefers to store objects in low acid boxes with acid free tissue. We have had volunteers working on repacking objects into boxes.
As well as improving the storage, it has also created lots of space, making the Collections Management team very happy!
We have also been busy working on getting the photographs the teams have taken onto our collections management database. These are slowly filtering through and now you can see some of our wonderful photographs in the online collections. Many objects had not been photographed, or had photographs that were of a poor quality meaning they weren’t that useful.
In addition to putting object photographs online, we are still putting objects on our Tumblr blog. We sometimes get a little excited at events and celebration, like Halloween and Frederick Horniman’s birthday. You can follow us there now to see our Horniman advent calendar objects.