Before embarking on Phase 2 of the Collections People Stories project, over 20 Horniman staff members took part in a week long training programme at our Study Collections Centre.
For some participants this week presented a whole new set of skills and for others it was a helpful refresher.
Each morning we began with a dose of data management, with training on our collections database, called MIMSY.
It may seem easy to describe an object, but each object has so many elements to it, all which need to be documented thoroughly:. where it is from; what it is made of; who collected it; whether or not it has been conserved or indeed if it could be hazardous to your health!
The training week was also packed full of hands on training, skills that will be applied by our teams throughout the Collections Review.
We were shown how to pack the ideal box - who would have known that there are 4 legitimate ways to scrunch up that perfect paper wodge?
We also learned how to pack flat art for transport and storage and how to make our own Corex boxes for oversized objects.
Our Conservation staff held a session on textiles outlining the special care that needs to be taken when packing and storing costumes.
At other times during the week, we learnt how to accurately mark and measure objects. Physically marking stored collections is essential so objects can be tracked if they were to lose their attached labels. Accurate measurements are of course a must when planning for museum displays.
Although all Horniman staff pride themselves in always being on high alert for insects in the cases and cabinets around the museum, conservation staff gave us a Pest Control Refresher to keep us one step ahead of the critters.
One of the most exciting aspects of this project is that we will be taking photographs of every reviewed object. Our museum photographer did a sterling job in setting up the cameras and tents so that we can take excellent photographs. We learned simple tricks to improve the light, focus and texture when taking pictures of museum objects.
On the last of day of training our packing skills were put to the ultimate test in the all-important Egg Tossing Challenge. Eggs packed in a variety of materials found themselves being hurled with force through the stairwells. If the egg didn’t break, it was packed well!
I am happy to announce that only 2 out of 15 eggs did not survive the journey!