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Meet Our Finalists – Special Award: Collections

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By West Midlands Museum Development / Posted on Friday 15th September 2017

Meet Our Finalists – Special Awards: Collections

This is our penultimate post in our ‘Meet Our Finalists’ series and it is the turn of the finalists in the ‘Special Awards: Collections’ category.  Find out more about the fantastic work of this years nominees…

Ann Almond and Sharron Wise, Wolverhampton Art Gallery
“Ann and Sharron first met as volunteers for our Service at Bantock House Museum in 2012 and they began working on joint projects.”

“Their volunteering initially focused on visitor service duties but they soon developed a thirst for knowledge about Wolverhampton and its industrial heritage. They started to research the collections at Bantock House, write visitor guides, and curate small exhibitions for the house, alongside their Front of House roles.”

“In 2013 they curated on an exhibition of cut-steel jewellery, drawing on Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s collection as well as items from an avid collector and local history enthusiast called Frank Sharman.”

“Ann and Sharron’s dedication, competence and flair were recognised by staff working at other venues in the Service and they were invited to help with projects at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and occasionally Bilston Craft Gallery, alongside their work at Bantock House. Sharron became involved in the Black Country Echoes project, a region-wide celebration of recent Black Country’s recent industrial history. She worked alongside the collections team cataloguing items relating to the project and helping to enrich the records. Following this, Ann and Sharron were enlisted to work on an important documentation project funded by Europeana, which, amongst other things, allowed us to digitise our ceramic collections.”

“However Ann and Sharron’s most significant contribution to our Service has been their work on the ‘Frank Sharman’ project. This is a long-term project to assess and document Frank’s vast and varied collection of items relating to Wolverhampton and the Black Country, which he has kindly offered to donate to the Service.”

“For the past three years Ann and Sharron have dedicated many hours of their free time to identifying, documenting, photographing, packing and labelling Frank Sharman’s personal collection. They have created a meticulously organised spread sheet listing more than 800 items so far.”

“The Frank Sharman Collection will become a valuable record of local manufacturing and cultural history.” [Nominated by Carol Thompson, Wolverhampton Art Gallery]

Archive Team, Winterbourne House and Garden
“This team has shown exceptional commitment to Winterbourne over a period of nearly 10 years. Their dedication, attention to detail and passion for the history of this house and garden have been invaluable to the development of Winterbourne as a successful visitor attraction and subsequently as an Accredited museum. They have worked under their own initiative, during a period when major changes were taking place and there was considerable turnover in staffing. They have worked with several different members of staff, responding to needs and ensuring that, regardless of the other demands of the service, the cataloguing and researching of the archives received consistent attention.”

“When Winterbourne House was restored and opened as a visitor attraction in 2009/10, a large body of archival material, consisting of more than 1,000 items, was donated by a descendant of the Nettlefold family. The Archive Team have catalogued, transcribed, scanned and researched this archive. It is because of their efforts that it is securely and safely boxed, listed and available for further research and for use in exhibitions and interpretation. Today, they continue to catalogue and research archival material relating to the entire history of Winterbourne. Members of the team have carried out exhaustive research into the family trees and histories of the families who have lived at Winterbourne.”

“Currently four members of the team are tackling a large body of botanical material dating from the period when Winterbourne was a botanical research centre. They are listing and cataloguing this material and working with an external expert to assess its significance.”

“Members of the team have taken part in a community engagement project, researching information for and giving a presentation to a group of young people preparing to create dramatic performances based on the history of Winterbourne.”

“The knowledge that this group has gained over the last 10 years is a huge resource for the staff and, ultimately, the public.” [Nominated by Henrietta Lockhart, Winterbourne House and Garden]

Ian Denny, Staffordshire County Museum Service
“Ian has been invaluable in caring for Staffordshire County Museum’s fantastic puppet collection. The collection was brought together by Douglas Hayward who collected hundreds of puppets from around the world, dating back to the early 1800s. Douglas established the Puppet Theatre Museum in Abbots Bromley to house his wonderful collection, which he later donated to Staffordshire County Museum. Ian, a puppet maker himself, worked closely with Douglas in Abbots Bromley and continued to help us with the collection after Douglas’ death. His knowledge of the puppets and their operation has been invaluable to us at the museum. He has assisted us with the mammoth task of cataloguing the entire Hayward collection; accessioning, packing and labelling, marionettes, glove puppets, archive material, props and sets.”ian-denny

“Marionettes are unusual museum objects, generally very fragile because of their strings and Ian’s knowledge of their workings and their repair has been instrumental in keeping the collection in a good condition. His links to others interested in the field have also been vital to us in making new connections.”

“More recently the museums service has developed a touring exhibition showcasing this fabulous collection. Ian’s knowledge of the collection, understanding of the objects and the subject matter and contacts within this specialist area has been absolutely essential in developing this exhibition. He has made an invaluable contribution to the research and development of the exhibition but has also been crucial in the installation and display of the objects. Ian quite literally makes the puppets come to life whilst on display, using his skills to position them in brilliant ways. He has helped us to develop links with the Puppet Guild and organise a fantastic puppet show for the exhibition launch. It would not have been possible to develop and produce this exhibition without Ian and the success of the display and the launch are very much due to his dedication, knowledge and skill.” [Nominated by Natalie Heidiaripour, Staffordshire County Museum]

Vince Hall, British Motor Museum
“Since 2012 Vince has pioneered our oral history project, liaising with both Curatorial and Community Engagement departments to come up with a list of people and groups to approach in order to capture some of their stories about the motor industry using oral history interviews. The oral history project itself is so important as a way for us to give a voice to the workers in the motor industry, who ordinarily may not have their stories recorded in the history.”

“Vince has managed a small team of six volunteers in this project and has researched, set up and delegated resources across his team to record over 60 sessions with people in the local area in the last year.”

“Vince has also been responsible for producing templates for oral history interview summary sheets. Often the interviews can be anything from an hour to in excess of 2 hours long. Using the document Vince created each of the 60 interviews had an overall summary of topics mentioned alongside details of the interviewee, as well as being broken down into summary sections.”

“It was intended that all the work carried out by our oral history team would eventually be archived within the collection, as well as also being used in audio posts throughout the museum.”

“Vince has been key in pushing forward the other elements of the project. He has effectively taught himself how to use various forms of media editing software in order to produce useable shorter recording clips. Not only did Vince undertake this on his own but, after teaching himself, he also trained the other members of the oral history team and has since even trained the Curatorial Team.”

“Not only has Vince been instrumental in pushing the collection of the oral history interviews but through his efforts, the oral history project now has a tangible output that can be enjoyed by any visitor to the museum.” [Nominated by Catherine Griffin, British Motor Museum]

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