MGS frequently runs collections workshops to upskill the sector, as well as providing chances for peer-to-peer networking. We asked Dr Claire Pannell, Collections Officer at East Lothian Council Museums Service, to give us her thoughts after attending a few.
I’ve been really lucky to attend both of the new bunch of workshops run by MGS at their offices in Edinburgh. Both have been extremely relevant to my role as Collections Officer for a local authority museum collection. As is par for the course, we have more work than we do resources and so any ideas to make more efficient use of what we do have, is gratefully received.
The first workshop presented innovative ways that others in the sector have used funding for to develop their collection. I have been stimulated to start applying for more money from MGS, and to not be afraid even to enquire whether a project that I have in mind is actually eligible for funding.
The second workshop on receiving loans from the National Museums Scotland collection was highly pertinent; I am planning a major exhibition later this year that is almost entirely comprised of loans from NMS. I have also disseminated the nuggets of wisdom from the workshop widely within our team. This has then encouraged colleagues to plan more touring exhibitions and from organisations outwith Scotland.
But it’s not just the content of the workshops that makes them invaluable; it’s also the opportunity to meet up with old acquaintances and to forge new relationships. They are informal, sociable occasions. It is all too easy to forget, when you’re dealing with the myriad aspects to a collections job, that up and down Scotland in storerooms all over the country, there are curators just like you, battling the same issues and problems. These workshops allow a respite from those pressures, to recharge your batteries, and to remember that you’re not alone.
I have left the workshops feeling renewed, stimulated, excited about the new opportunities available, and full of ideas. I can’t wait for the next one on tips for dealing with backlogs. As David Bowie said, ‘You’re not alone. Gimme your hands, ’cause you’re wonderful’.