I recently shared an article on Twitter, ‘The Boleyns and the Bechdel Test’ about two costumed interpreters’ efforts to create heritage interpretation at Historic Royal Palaces which would pass the Bechdel Test.
When I started this blog almost a year ago, it was because I wanted to push myself. I was working in a national museum in a junior role where I learnt a lot about the practicalities of collections management, but didn’t feel stretched, and didn’t feel like I was flexing all the muscles I developed during my Museum Studies MA. I was facing a lot of challenges and frustrations when it came to pursuing the next stage of my career, and was keenly aware of the parallel challenges and frustrations facing the museum sector. I had a lot of ideas and didn’t feel like I had an outlet for them, so I started Acid Free.
On a recent trip to Bath I was interested to see a small exhibit in the ceramics display in the Victoria Art Gallery: a case full of broken objects. The case comes at the end of the small gallery full of delftware, radiant lustreware, packs of Staffordshire dogs and more modern studio ceramics. It showcases items from the collection which are in a state of disrepair and would not normally be on display. As well as making an effective case for donations, I thought this simple display was a wonderful way of making visible the work that needs to go on behind the scenes to care for and preserve the city’s collections.
When considering the impact of museum funding cuts, I thought I knew what the threats might be: closures, or part-closures, shorter opening hours, staff redundancies, selling off collections, cutting back on all but the core activities. I didn’t think that something I’ve come to take for granted would be under threat: free entry.
On Friday 5th June I attended a free conference at the British Museum called ‘What does data have to do with me?’ As someone who deals with data about collections daily in my work, and has a reasonable grasp of the importance of visitor data from my previous roles and Museum Studies course, I still consider myself something of a novice in this field. To see the potential of what data, in the right hands, can do was a real eye-opener. The many speakers, from diverse organisations such as the BBC, the Guardian, the Audience Agency, Nesta and the Arts Council, spoke on different subjects and projects, but some common themes emerged again and again: