100 years ago today, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance left Plymouth for the Antarctic. The story of his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition – how the Endurance was trapped by ice, and drifted for hundred of miles before being crushed; how her crew camped for months on the drifting ice, then rowed for 6 days to reach the desolate and uninhabited Elephant Island; and how Shackleton and five companions sailed an open boat across 800 miles of the world’s stormiest seas before Shackleton, Crean and Worsley walked non-stop for 36 miles across the icy mountains of South Georgia to fetch help – is well known, and I’ll say no more about it here.
A couple of months ago, I was on the shortlisting and interviewing panel for a documentation-related museum job. Although we had some very good applications, the overall standard was worryingly low. It looked as though many applicants hadn’t been told about what makes a good application, so I’d like to offer some advice here.
I’ve been thinking about museum documentation quite a lot recently. You might say this is unsurprising – after all, I’m paid to manage documentation at the Horniman Museum. But what’s vexed me particularly is the matter of documentation’s invisibility: the way it’s seldom mentioned publicly, despite underpinning everything a museum does.
If you’ve visited my website at all recently, you’ll have noticed that it’s been looking a little tired. I wrote it several years ago as a static site, and unsurprisingly haven’t been keeping it up to date as often as I’d like.