Integrating Forms of Care: Building Communities of Practice around Reserve Collections

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Culture Media and Creative Industries

Abstract

'Integrating Forms of Care' follows on from an earlier collaborative research project 'Who Cares? Interventions in 'unloved' museum collections'. This initial project worked with the Science Museum, the Museum of English Rural Life and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust to explore the role of enthusiasm, creativity and affection in the stewardship of 'unloved' or under-appreciated collections. 'Who cares?' exposed the significant role that enthusiast experts (independent researchers with a clear expertise in and passion for a particular subject or collection) play in caring for museum collections, particularly those which others may find difficult to engage with due to their repetitive or specialist nature. Despite the majority of museum staff being dedicated to improving collections access, negotiating a suitable level of physical access and playing a part in decision making processes around the reserve collections could be challenging due in part to a potential clash of cultures between enthusiasts and professional museum staff. It was this finding in particular where a clear but unexpected pathway to impact and engagement emerged.

In order to help democratise heritage decision-making and open up reserve collections to a wider audience, this follow-on project will bring together a group of museum curators and enthusiast experts into a single collaborative working group. Together this group will form a unique community of practice embarking on a programme of knowledge exchange events which focus on the Science Museum Group's (SMG) 'Energy' collections, a diverse group of objects dispersed across its sites in London, Manchester and Wroughton. The working group will come together regularly through the schedule of project activities, visiting each of the SMG's stores in turn and taking part in focussed discussions which 'problematise' these reserve collections from multiple perspectives. The project activities will be based around three strands of knowledge exchange: community asset mapping, collaborative problem solving and activities to facilitate wider public engagement. We recognise that members of the working group may have very different frames of reference and priorities concerning reserve collections, one of the key aims of the project is to acknowledge these and give them space to be heard and understood. Through the example of SMG , the working group will ultimately devise a clear set of policy guidelines for wider museums and heritage organisations on how to design more flexible forms of preservation policy that allows for potentially more varied forms of access and 'use' of objects.

Over the course of the project the working group will be accompanied by Creative Practitioners who will facilitate the discussions and create visible reference points, such as a publically accessible dynamic map, which aims to capture the complexity of these conversations. The creative practitioners will also create a project documentary to be hosted on the project website, giving visibility to enthusiast research practices and skills and encouraging new users to make use of reserve collections.

'Integrating Forms of Care' will work alongside the SMG's large scale 'Collections Review Programme'. This is a timely opportunity to influence forward-thinking and sustainable collections management practices in a National Museum context, which will ultimately aid the recognition of the plural values that museum collections represent. However, the focus of the project will be outward looking and felt by a much wider group across the Museum Sector. Through dissemination of project's collaborative outputs by the project team and working group at a Public Workshop and via social and professional networks, this knowledge exchange programme will have a wider societal and professional impact to other museums in the UK and beyond.

Planned Impact

This follow-on project will impact the primary audiences of the 'Who Cares' research (museum professionals and enthusiast experts), providing a structure and forum for knowledge-exchange that will bring these groups into productive dialogue. This dialogue will impact policy in a National Museum i.e. the Science Museum Group (SMG). Through their networks the working group, PI, Co-I and RA will reproduce that impact across the museum sector. 'Integrating Forms of Care' benefits UK STEM history enthusiast experts, by raising their profile within key decision making discussions and promoting their contributions to UK heritage to new audiences. Additionally, the project extends the impact of 'Who Cares' to new audiences, in framing the issues under discussion in creative ways, it will generate resources that increase the accessibility of stored collections to new non-specialist publics.

MUSEUM PROFESSIONALS Museum practitioners have long been calling for imaginative solutions for collection sustainability that address the role of stored collections in heritage practices. The importance attached to the audit of a major national collection make this project a highly visible experiment in knowledge-exchange and participatory practice, and one which will be welcomed, within the SMG, and across the UK museum sector.
All the members of the project working group are well situated to effect knowledge transfer from the project to their respective communities. Co-I Kirby, Head of SMG's Collections Services will use the project to directly inform the Collections Review across the organisation. The PI, Co-I and participating curators are all active museums professionals, who are well placed to disseminate the conversations of the knowledge exchange to the broader professional community; formally through an AHRC report, informally via social media, professional networks, and teaching post-graduate students.

ENTHUSIAST EXPERT GROUPS The desire for increased access, regular consultation and the possibility of a more 'integrated' approach to STEM heritage are ongoing concerns of these groups. The project directly addresses these concerns.The enthusiast expert participants are well connected in third sector heritage communities. They publish regularly within their respective groups and are highly respected members of these organisations. An online forum and a public workshop will extend the knowledge-exchange to even greater numbers by inviting contributions to the project forum from other relevant organisations (see CfS). Finally, the project supports two public presentations by the enthusiast participants, enabling them to share the outcomes of the knowledge exchange in peer-led events across the UK.

NEW COLLECTIONS USERS Studies have revealed that the public has only a vague understanding of the purpose and scale of stored collections within the UK heritage landscape. The creative mapping, and videos will create a structured visualization of the sites and activities 'behind the scenes' in the museum. The 'tool kit' written collaboratively with the experts and curators will describe the process of carrying out independent research in the stores. These resources will provide insight for potential new users of the collections into the experience of conducting research in the stores, and increase their confidence to approach museum staff with questions and work plans.

The creative practitioner, John Wallett and his team were selected because of their proven track-record in working with communities to create visualisations of resources and dialogues that are meaningful and captivating for diverse audiences. The SMG has long-standing expertise in using digital media (websites, video and social media) to promote interest and dialogue around its collections The project will draw on the museum's existing reputation, expertise and networks to maximize the spread and intensity of the impact of these resources beyond the organisation itself.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Energy In Store Film Clip - "Associating Objects" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on whether access to museum objects is all that expert enthusiasts need when they research objects. The need for quality information in online catalogues is also very important for enabling their research practices. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188428
 
Title Energy In Store Film Clip - "Engineered Objects" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on how expert enthusiasts might look at objects, thinking not just about their materials but how the various parts of an object were fitted together and the skills required to do this. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188440
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Accessing Objects" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on: the nature of museum collections in store, the possibilities for research within stored collections and the benefits of being able to browse the store. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188452
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Different Logics" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on the different logics museums use to store their objects in comparison with how expert enthusiasts would store them. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188446
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Digital Access" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on Digital Access to museum collections and the needs of expert enthusiasts. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188437
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Exploring Historical Tools" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on the importance for some expert enthusiasts of looking in detail at different objects, thinking through the process of how they were made and the tools required to do this. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188419
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Exploring Materials" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on the various research interests of expert enthusiasts, including the need to see the object not what it is necessarily, but what it is made of. Including potentially undertaking various (destructive) scientific analyses that may require taking samples of the materials. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188470
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "How to Collect" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on the value of collecting whole engineering systems or whether parts of them would be sufficient. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188434
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Learning From Objects" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on how the documentation might only take an expert researcher so far and the need for close inspection of the object itself. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188431
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Multi-Sensory Approach" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on the benefits of expert enthusiasts physically seeing an object in front of them and the sensory and emotional engagement this provides. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188422
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Objects Speak in Different Ways" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on how object speak to people in different ways and the need to see (and possibly handle) museum objects in order to understand them. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188425
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "Stored Collections" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on the different knowledge and skills that expert enthusiasts have and produce and how this may be of value to the museum. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188443
 
Title Energy in Store Film Clip - "What visual documentation is valuable to the researcher" 
Description This is a short film clip for use in dissemination events and teaching. It focuses on capturing visual information and the problems and challenges of doing this with specific objects and collections of objects. The clip also raises the issues around where effort would be best spent, for example would it be better to spend time describing the object in an online catalogue or trying to take the right photograph(s)? The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The clip will be used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7188449
 
Title Energy in Store Project Film (subtitled) 
Description A 15min 45sec film documenting the process of taking a group of expert enthusiasts into the Science Museum Group stores to talk about the process of accessing and researching the museum's stored collections with a group of museum curators, collections staff and conservators. The film was created by Aura Films as one of the creative outputs for this project. The full film archive for the project has been uploaded to the Figshare digital repository for public usage under licence CC BY 4.0. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The film archive for this project has been used in postgraduate teaching and as supporting evidence in online journal articles and presentations. 
URL https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7379183
 
Title Making a collections enquiry - steps involved at different SMG sites 
Description A visual representation of the various steps involved behind the scenes for the museum when an expert enthusiast makes a collections enquiry. 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Used in professional presentations by co-I Jack Kirby to illustrate current complexities for external enthusiasts wishing to view an object in two Science Museum stores, and in teaching by PI Anna Woodham. 
 
Description The main achievement of the project was the process of knowledge exchange that took place as a result of bringing together a group of professional museum staff and expert enthusiasts to discuss issues around how museums can offer access to object collections that is better adapted to the needs of independent expert researchers and also where expert enthusiasts might benefit from a greater understanding about what happens behind the scenes in museums. The project partner was the Science Museum Group (SMG) and the success of the project was greatly aided by the level of commitment and investment of time from staff members across SMG. In particular the project Co-Investigator Jack Kirby (Group Head of Collections Services) and the Project Research Associate Dr Elizabeth Haines who was, perhaps unusually for such funded projects, based at the Science Museum, rather than the University partner.

The 12-month duration of the project, with its regular face to face meetings (see project events section), structured workshops and the online forum allowed for a rich and extended dialogue between these groups. Museum staff and enthusiasts talked about increasing their understanding around each other's perspectives and distinct ways of working. The project events were facilitated by information designer and community arts expert John Wallett from Livingmaps, and recorded in a short documentary film by Aura Films (see artistic outputs section for details).

The process of knowledge exchange resulted in the following discoveries grouped under four main themes:

• Physical access to the stored collections
It was revelation to most of the enthusiast experts, to see just how much happens behind the scenes when a research visit is requested and how much time this can take. Multiple parties are likely to be involved in coordinating a visit and various requirements have to be met: the object has to be sound enough to be moved to a viewing area and it mustn't pose a health risk to the researcher (SMG collections include objects with asbestos, mercury. and even radioactive substances). In sites with high racking, objects need to be retrieved with forklift trucks. Nonetheless, the group recommended that current research enquiry processes at SMG could be streamlined, and that enquirers could be offered better information at the outset. This is being addressed.

The working group noted that it isn't always very helpful for a researcher to be shown a single object on a research visit. Comparing a number of similar objects can be a key way of understanding a collection for researchers. This isn't currently a form of access that is available, but SMG will be considering whether and how it will be possible for serious researchers to 'browse' collections in the new facilities that are being constructed in Wiltshire.

• Access to museum documentation
The Energy in Store team made a strong case for better access to the documentation about the collections that is held by SMG. The 'documentation' files effectively hold the biographies of the objects and are part of SMG's own institutional memory. The files are used by the curators, conservators and other staff in the ongoing business of the museum. While the files are nominally available for consultation by the public, they are not currently publicly listed and awareness about them in the research community is low. SMG will be exploring ways to make them a more accessible research resource in the long term.

• Digital futures
Much of the discussion in the project focused on the possibilities of the digital. How can museums make their collections digitally available (both records and images) in ways that suit the needs of researchers? SMG recently launched a publically open digital catalogue: Collections Online. Together with the SMG digital team the Energy in Store group discussed the specialist requirements of researchers and how those needs could be accommodated in that system. Feedback from the researchers will be fed into future development of the Collections Online platform. Another theme we considered was the potential use of a crowd-sourcing or wiki approach to integrate expert knowledge into the digital catalogue. Crowd-sourcing might rapidly contribute to better understanding of the collections but was controversial. How might that process be supervised to ensure historical accuracy? Could volunteers peer review? This topic will certainly require more thought and consultation.

• Social networks around stored collections.
A final point explored by the working group was the importance of personal networks and specialist interest groups in generating and sharing knowledge about the collections. Both museums and specialist interest groups suffer from inter-generational loss, and struggle to sustain networks and connections when key individuals inevitably move on. The Energy in Store group recommended that SMG manage these relationships more actively as an important and sustainable asset, by recording them better, and by encouraging and strengthening connections through networking events.
Exploitation Route The project team are aiming to promote the digital resources from the projected widely using social media and the database of contacts built up over the duration of the project.
We will share the project's short, succinct external report with the participants and invitees from the end of project workshop, encouraging further cascading and dissemination. The report will also be sent by the core team to key contacts and organisations in the museum profession such as the Museums Association, Collections Trust and subject specialist networks. We believe the findings of the project have clear applicability across the museum and heritage sector and can act as a guide for museums wishing to better understand the needs of this particular audience group. We will reach these groups by promoting the report and resources and the academic article we publish about the project. The project will have a permanent presence on the SMG website, which is optimised for search engines to enhance discoverability.

A central aim of the project was to influence internal SMG policy and practice. This is already happening, although there is more work to be done here. The Science Museum Group's Research and Public History Department (R&PH) will receive a copy of the project's internal report, as will each of the museum staff who engaged with the project including those in senior management positions. The Research and Public History Department will also disseminate the findings of the project through their own presentations and internal conversations using, for example, the short version of the main project film and the other outputs from the project's digital archive to engage audiences across the museum.
The core project team will continue their conversations with SMG regularly asking progress on the four themes identified above. The PI will also discuss with staff at SMG the potential to take the project's findings forward in a further research project aligning with the museum's One Collection project.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description To date the findings of the award have been used in two main areas: 1) To influence decision making for the Science Museum's One Collection project. 2) Higher Education: The project outputs and findings have been used in postgraduate teaching on collections management (King's College London).
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

 
Description DCMS Mendoza Review. Co-I Jack Kirby supplied DCMS Museum Policy Team with an overview of the project as evidence for successful partnership working with University Sector
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-mendoza-review-an-independent-review-of-museums-in-en...
 
Description Integrating Forms of Care Partnership 
Organisation Science Museum Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Science Museum Group are a partner on this grant and the whole impact project is based around working with their collections. Their head of collections Jack Kirby is a Co-I on the grant and the Research Associate for the project is based at the Science Museum. As a research team, we bring our expertise of working with the Science Museum before and our understanding their collections and processes, offering new perspectives around these.
Collaborator Contribution The access to and expertise of Science Museum Group staff is directly contributing to the project workshops which are based around visits to each of the Science Museum Group stores. Often these visits are complex to organise logistically and have demanded a lot of SMG staff time to help facilitate. SMG have also made rooms and AV equipment available at their sites.
Impact A documentary film (uploaded to figshare) A series of mini film clips and film resources (all on figshare) An internal report (awaiting publication) An external report (awaiting publication) A journal article (currently being drafted)
Start Year 2017
 
Description "Energy in Store An experiment in bringing ?co-production into ?collections management", Research Seminar by Anna Woodham and Elizabeth Haines, 9th October 2018. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The project team was invited to present at a Science Museum research seminar for SMG staff at the Dana Centre, London on 9th October 2018.
The most significant outcome of the event was for the presenters (Woodham & Haines) to understand more about how the project resonated with staff in the Science Museum and for interaction to occur between the project and another AHRC funded follow-on project around interconnecting themes and how these will be taken forward in the workshops for that project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description "The Energy in Store project: public history through the facilitation and exchange of lay expertise" Conference Presentation by Co-I Jack Kirby, 14th September, 2018. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Co-I Jack Kirby presented a project summary at the Science Museum's 3rd Research Conference in London, 14th September, 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/science-museum-group-research-conference-2018
 
Description Blythe House workshop - 3rd November 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The Blythe House Workshop was the 'Energy in Store' first visit to one of the Science Museum Stores. The working group were guided through the stores by SMG staff and curators discussed issues concerning accessing museum stores for experts. The group had selected a range of objects from the SMG digital catalogue in advance and presented these to each other. Creative Practitioner John Wallet and Aura Films began to document the process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Core team/working group project wrap up meeting - Science Museum, July 4th. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact In this final core team meeting we decided a time line for wrapping up the project and the key outcomes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Energy in Store deliberation workshop, King's College London - 11th May 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact This was the final workshop meeting for the Energy in Store working group. We met at King's College London for a discussion/deliberation session to bring together and agree on the main guiding themes of our discussions over the past 8 months. These themes would influence i) the final project internal and external reports and ii) the structure and content for our public workshop. We also watched a draft version of the project film created by aura films. Watching this as a group allowed us to discuss together the main outcomes of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Energy in Store end of project public workshop "Energy in Store, Realising the potential of Museum collections in storage", Royal Geographical Society, London - 22nd June, 2018. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We invited 95 people to our end of project workshop. The participants were mainly from the wider museum sector, including staff from volunteer led museums, academics, postgraduate students and Science Museum staff in addition to the working group members. The aim of the day were:

To share discussions we have had during the project
Consider whether they resonate with the wider museum sector
Consider whether there are key places to take these discussions further
And, what next?

Our afternoon session consisted of 4 x 30min mini workshops on the following themes (which had been decided in discussion with the working group in advance based on previous events):

Object information and records
Browsing Collections
Collaboration and knowledge networks beyond the museum
Collections and the digital
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Introductory Workshop, Dana Centre, Science Museum - 5th October 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The project working group of museum curators, expert enthusiasts, creative practitioners and the project team met for the first time at this introductory workshop. We discussed the broad aims of the project and the 'Who Cares?' research project that had prompted this follow-on funding. We made plans for our next meeting the following month.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Museum Science and Industry, Manchester Workshop - 1st December 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The working group met at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Manchester. The aim of the visit was to view the presentation of stored collections at MSI, to discuss a range of objects previously requested by the participants in advance and to consider the specific issues surrounding the idea of browsing museum collections in store. We began to map out the process an expert enthusiast making an enquiry to the museum to view an object in store and the various stages of this process that are often invisible to the person making the enquiry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Project Workshop, Science Museum London (Dana Centre) - 9th February 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The Energy in Store working group met for a workshop at the Dana Centre, Science Museum London. The aims of the day were 1) to map out the journey of an enquiry placed to the museum from the perspective of an expert researcher and museum staff. This was facilitated by creative practitioner John Wallett. 2) to consider the opportunities and challenges presented by online and virtual access to the collections via the Science Museum's collections database for this audience group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshop and visit to Science Museum Site in Wroughton - 12th April 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The working group visited the Science Museum's offsite store at Wroughton to consider the behind the scenes management of stored collections and the logistics, resources and practical arrangements required to enable expert researchers access to stored museum collections. In advance the expert enthusiast participants and the curators had been asked to select a number of objects relating to their own research interests for us to see on the day. We requested these objects and through a process of negotiation came up with a short-list to view in the various hangar locations around this airfield site. We used the visit to build on our understanding of 'what happens to a request to view an object' in a large scale museum collection. We were taken around the site by conservators and site managers where we also discussed challenges associated with moving and storing objects and bringing them out to show members of the public. Our day also focused on discussing the research practices used by the expert researchers and the reasons why they had selected the objects they had, considering questions of value. One of the practical exercises we did was to look at the Museum's collection of many hundreds of gas meters, considering questions such as 'do we need to keep them all' if not 'How do we decide which should be kept'?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018