Category Archives: Documentation

What should we be doing next?

I was flattered to receive an email a few months ago from Nick Poole, at that point still the Chief Executive of Collections Trust, asking me to speak at the Trust’s forthcoming annual conference. Nick suggested that I might ‘take a look at where we are today with documentation, which challenges have been solved and which are still to be addressed’ – all in twenty minutes! Those of you that know me will also realise that this isn’t really the way I work: I prefer to start with the detail and work outwards from that, rather than beginning with grand abstractions about the bigger picture. But after a quick exchange of emails, Nick and I agreed a subject, and I gave my lecture at the Collections Trust 2015 conference at the Natural History Museum a few weeks ago.

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#TwitteratiChallenge

I realise, looking at this site’s dashboard, that I’ve not posted much recently. In part this is down to personal distractions; in part it’s because I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and some writing, on the subject of renaissance magnificence – on which, I hope, more will follow later; and in part it’s because I’ve had my head down with things like a complete review of the Horniman Museum’s core documentation procedures prior to an accreditation return (if you work in UK museums, you’ll understand what that entails).  Then I received a Twitter notification to say that Katie Hobbs had nominated me in the Twitterati Challenge. Continue reading #TwitteratiChallenge

What I did this summer, or: CIDOC 2014

Being responsible for the Horniman Museum’s documentation, I normally find myself sitting in front of a computer screen, or in meetings. Every once in a while, though, I’m allowed out to meet my colleagues from other institutions, find out what they’re doing, and compare experiences. Previously, this has usually been at the annual OpenCulture conference run by Collections Trust; but this year I spent four days in Dresden at the 2014 annual conference of the Comité International pour la Documentation (CIDOC), the branch of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) interested in documentation.
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Learning from the past 4: putting information online

This is the last of a series of posts looking at the lessons about museum documentation thrown up whilst I was researching my recent article on the website of the Horniman Museum (where I work as Documentation Manager), investigating the objects related to the ‘Heroic Age’ of Antarctic exploration which were once owned by the Horniman. I’ve already looked at accession registers, capturing and sharing information, and recording what happens to objects. This last post is slightly different, as it’s less about the past, and more about the present: I want to talk about my intentions when putting information about the Antarctic relics – and all the Horniman’s objects – online.

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Learning from the past 3: recording what happens to objects

This is the third of a series of posts looking at the lessons about museum documentation thrown up whilst I was researching my recent article on the website of the Horniman Museum (where I work as Documentation Manager), investigating the objects related to the ‘Heroic Age’ of Antarctic exploration which were once owned by the Horniman. I’ve already looked at accession registers, and capturing and sharing information; in this piece, I’ll talk about recording what happens to objects; and a final post will look at how we can make that information available online.

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Learning from the past 2: capturing and sharing information

This is the second of a series of posts looking at the lessons about museum documentation thrown up whilst I was researching my recent article on the website of the Horniman Museum (where I work as Documentation Manager), investigating the objects related to the ‘Heroic Age’ of Antarctic exploration which were once owned by the Horniman. I’ve already looked at accession registers; in this piece, I’ll talk about capturing and sharing information; further posts will look at recording what happens to objects; and finally, at how we can make that information available online. Continue reading Learning from the past 2: capturing and sharing information

Learning from the past 1: accession registers

A couple of weeks ago, I took advantage of the centenary of the departure of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (also known as the Endurance expedition) to publish an article on the website of the Horniman Museum (where I work as Documentation Manager), investigating the objects related to the ‘Heroic Age’ of Antarctic exploration which were once owned by the Horniman. I’ve already said something about what these objects add to our knowledge of Antarctic history, but the process of researching the article has also thrown up some valuable lessons in museum documentation, and I thought I’d share them here, in a series of posts. First, I’ll look at accession registers; then, capturing and sharing information; third, recording what happens to objects; and finally, looking at how we can make that information available online.

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A sordid tale of fast living in the stores?

A few weeks ago, I was standing in the Pot Room, accompanied by a dog who was half skeleton, half fur, being told by someone I’d never met before that I was losing it.

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Tips for an effective museum job application

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.

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The invisibility of museum documentation

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.

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