Collecs For People

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  • Collecs For People

    1. 1. Opening up collections Aren’t your collections a public resource? www.ucl.ac.uk/storedcollections/ Pilgrim Trust
    2. 2. The questions <ul><li>Collections as a resource - size and nature, how distributed, vary by size and type? </li></ul><ul><li>How much are different types of collection used by people other than museum staff? Who are these users? What uses do they make of collections? </li></ul><ul><li>How do users perceive this service? Do museums actively market collections access? Do they publicise what is in their collections? </li></ul><ul><li>What do they see as the impediments to increasing use? What practical ways do they use to provide access? </li></ul><ul><li>Answers: from existing evidence, surveys of museums + users </li></ul>
    3. 3. How many users? 20% of respondents, 400+ users p.a. = 36 ‘more users’ museums 400 The 80% ‘Fewer Users’ museums
    4. 4. The top 20% (36): 400 or more users p.a. <ul><li>7 Small local museums </li></ul><ul><li>7 Large local museums </li></ul><ul><li>6 University museums </li></ul><ul><li>6 Highly specialised collections </li></ul><ul><li>5 Large object collections </li></ul><ul><li>3 English Heritage archaeology regional stores </li></ul><ul><li>2 Large national museums </li></ul><ul><li>“ It’s the old story. Small museums are far behind the bigger ones.” </li></ul>
    5. 5. Promoting access to collections 1999 - 98% of respondents offered access to stored material, less than 22% promoted it in museum literature
    6. 6. How promote access? <ul><li>Six of the ‘more users’ museums used the press to promote access: only two of the 135 with ‘fewer users’ </li></ul><ul><li>The website was the most common medium </li></ul><ul><li>Many museums used talks, society newsletters and outreach activities as well </li></ul>
    7. 9. Q.16 Can the public access the stored collections? If so, how? 
    8. 10. ‘Open storage’ <ul><li>Often (not always) for large/industrial objects </li></ul><ul><li>Access usually by tours/open days </li></ul><ul><li>May be permanently open </li></ul><ul><li>Often includes access to observe or talk to staff </li></ul><ul><li>May be attached to the museum or a separate location </li></ul><ul><li>May combine more than one museum’s collection </li></ul>
    9. 11. What do users find? <ul><li>We contacted - </li></ul><ul><li>Research users </li></ul><ul><li>Some users who came to workshops </li></ul><ul><li>Mystery Shoppers </li></ul>
    10. 12. Users said … Sometimes I’ve had great success and fun, other times it’s been like pulling teeth Only positive is staff – consistently helpful and positive The readiness to allow the viewing and photographing of collections, made my task remarkably easy. Make the first statement: “We want to make our stored collections more accessible … Please come in” Employ a collections interpreter who can assist people Do it! The collections are a brilliant resource for secondary schools I have had a positive experience in accessing museum archives because the majority of museum staff have been keen to help and have taken an interest in my research.
    11. 13. But it wasn’t all rosy … We have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous researchers who systematically ‘nick’ documents and images … would only consider even giving me the number to call to arrange a visit … once I had produced my Student ID to prove I was a post-graduate student. Phone calls never returned, no specific email given, general email elicited no response. We caught one visitor with a specialist group stuffing objects into his pockets - very embarassing
    12. 14. What about the numbers? Visited by many Inspiration to some Thanks to the National Trust, Tyntesfield, who developed this concept Preserved for everyone to a significant few Pivotal exper-ience Special interests: programmes, events, special days, societies The general public: visits to the collections in general, e.g. store tours, open stores One-to-one engagement: researchers, artists, for social benefits, volunteers
    13. 15. Visited by many
    14. 16. Visited by many
    15. 17. Visited by many Access days to sections of store once a month Usually 4 advertised store tours per year Strong links with schools, local colleges/uni’s, community groups, other museums and Archive Service users … we preserve working practices… People come to see this … … nothing in the reserve is of consequence. EVERYTHING worthwhile is on display. Several enthusiast groups who are well acquainted with the collection Mainly local and specialist groups … 
    16. 18. Inspiration to some - research
    17. 19. Inspiration to some Rugby enthusiasts, family history, sports historians Musical instrument makers & designers Dissertation students, volunteers, Cold War researchers, archaeological researchers/academics People interested in pierhead painters … Gypsy Travellers to see our Gypsy Wagons and Gypsy Floral Tribute A level textile students City & Guilds patchwork & quilting students Women with a specialist interest in our collections Visiting professors from Russia
    18. 20. Inspiration to some Artists, local arts groups, colleges, schools etc Arts Council funding
    19. 21. Creative inspiration
    20. 22. Inspiration for some - learning
    21. 23. Inspiration - history, memory
    22. 24. Pivotal experience “ Volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and organisations including local mental health charities and disability organisations” Volunteer … long periods out of work due to depression … regularly since 2004 … important collections management with archaeology … Placement via … Association for the Blind … now full time employment in admin., having developed new skills …
    23. 25. Pivotal experience <ul><li>Collections work: a safe, secure, calm well ordered place </li></ul><ul><li>Museums should be humble … </li></ul><ul><li>Offer collections work (conservation and collections care?) as a service to other organisations </li></ul><ul><li>Tick many objectives on local authority agenda </li></ul>
    24. 26. Management factors Strategic priority Performance indicators/ targets Promotion / marketing Record visitors? What makes for ‘ more’ use? Collection factors Collection type Collection size (no. of objects, storage area) Designated/national collecn. Resource or collections centre Has a subject curator User factors Level, trend in interest and demand Purpose Find out about collections Gain access How access provided Place factors Region Type of place (city, rural, small town) Transport Resource factors Finance Had a grant Staffing levels Space Accommodation for collecns. study Staff perspectives What factors most important What is addressed satisfactorily What are the obstacles Are collecns. sufficiently well used Museum factors Type of museum Size of museum Registered, accredited On-site store Has collections itself 
    25. 27. <ul><li>“We’d love to, but …” </li></ul><ul><li>Not enough staff </li></ul><ul><li>Not enough space </li></ul><ul><li>Store too far away </li></ul>
    26. 28. The storage loft is accessible by loft ladder … Main store is 2 miles away and difficult for public to access. It is not staffed. Current fashion … to promote “use it or lose it” without supplying the means and support … problematised by conservation attitudes based on deep packaging and reducing exposure and handling.
    27. 29. What, no space? <ul><li>Archival collection housed in the local Record Office, available to researchers on specific days </li></ul><ul><li>The Registrar has equipped their office for researchers - she can continue with her own work while they study objects </li></ul><ul><li>Replace separate rooms for different collections with a single study room staffed by curators on a published rota </li></ul><ul><li>Curators as well as researchers and users use the Study Centres for collections work </li></ul>
    28. 30. What, no staff? <ul><li>Museums have - Equipped a wider range of staff </li></ul><ul><li>Museum interpreter team members sent on a course in Roman history and thus equipped to deal with public tours </li></ul><ul><li>Collections management staff provide many kinds of collections access in an off-site collections centre </li></ul><ul><li>A collections access officer makes the practical arrangements and develops relationships with outside bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Paid Guide Enablers train themselves to conduct tours </li></ul><ul><li>Renaissance funded collections access staff (not specialist curators) </li></ul>
    29. 31. What, no staff? <ul><li>Museums have - Used external resources </li></ul><ul><li>A budget to pay external tutors to deliver courses, sessions, etc., using the collections </li></ul><ul><li>Partnerships with sectors outside museums who would largely supply the resources </li></ul><ul><li>A visible store that will be staffed and managed by library staff </li></ul>
    30. 32. Store too far away? <ul><li>People will come by car. Restricted target market segment not necessarily bad. </li></ul>
    31. 33. How to be a top user museum? <ul><li>All in the mind(set)? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ People if they express an interest are warmly invited to see the reserve collection ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ … as long as they have academic approval ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Aimless visitors are directed to the exhibition except for occasional special public tours ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ There isn't much interest in the stored collections ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Only person who researches is me” </li></ul></ul>
    32. 34. How to be a top user museum! <ul><li>Advertise collections - press, local radio, leaflets </li></ul><ul><li>Open the stores for groups, days, special events </li></ul><ul><li>Tell users what’s in the collections - online catalogues, website collections descriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Think inreach </li></ul><ul><li>Use more of the staff </li></ul><ul><li>Offer a service - collections engagement - to local organisations and individuals - let them drive </li></ul>
    33. 35. The last word <ul><li>“… break down the market for use into a series of niche markets, understanding the needs of each, without abandoning the core market use by researchers in favour of new potential users.” </li></ul>
    34. 36. Collections for People Suzanne Keene, Alice Stevenson, Francesca Monti www.ucl.ac.uk/storedcollections/ And thank you to … Pilgrim Trust

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