The next element of the Paintings in Hospitals Soundscape Poster Project took us all off to the Museum Depot in Acton Town. Jumpers on, and avoiding the washing of buses prior to the open weekend, we explored the depot and had a chance to see some of the posters from the 40,000 strong collection. Gloves on, we were able to take a closer look. Participants were then able to compare their drawings from the first day of the project with the original posters (below).
Museum Curator Robert Excel was on hand to give one of his enigmatic tours of the depot which served to exceed the participants expectations. Then the difficult decision came – which poster will we choose to create a soundscape for? Due to the tour being so interesting and general enjoyment, time ran out and I set the task for the group to email me with their choice of poster, with 3 reasons for their choice and sounds they would like to record.
Join us again to find out about how we get on at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
After a couple of sessions with the Museum’s Friends and volunteers, and some great editing by film maker Geoff Marshall, the first round of Depot Discoveries films is now available to view on YouTube! Head over to www.youtube.com/ltmuseumvideo to check them out, and let us know what you think.
Our next Depot Open Weekend is taking place on March 10 and 11. We’ll be making the most of this opportunity to trial out accessing these videos, so be sure to bring your smartphone or device with you on the day. Around four objects will be marked with new Depot Discoveries labels, featuring QR codes for you to scan, and I’ll be around with some trusty volunteers to hear what you think of the interpretation scheme. We hope to have Wi-Fi access available too, making it even easier to get online whilst in the store.
Many thanks to those of you who have contributed so far. If anyone would like to feature on camera as part of this project, get in touch with me at email@example.com and we’ll get planning!
On Wednesday 30th November one of our esteemed volunteers, John Campbell, gave a tour of the museum’s Depot in Acton. The tour was given to a group of students who are using our collection as a starting point for learning English and improving their confidence with travelling on London Transport. Having given tours on the museum’s collection for a number of years, this was the first time John had given a tour to a group to whom the majority had English as a second language. This made the tour quite different from the usual, as John became quite animated in describing the history of some of the vehicles, and regularly asked questions to the group to keep them engaged. The group became so comfortable with the tour that it turned very quickly into a Q&A session led by the group!
John also spent time showing the group our extensive art and poster collection, which everyone was very keen to see. As part of their course the group were studying a number of our posters, so it was a great opportunity for them to get a first-hand view of the works whilst being able to ask their guide any questions they had about the collection.
The Museum’s depot in Acton Town is a brilliant place. It’s full of fantastic objects, from trains to hat badges, posters to taxis. The Depot is a working museum store housing over 370,000 objects, and as such the number of labels and text panels we have on display needs to be limited. Objects are moved in and out of the store on an almost daily basis, and work is done by the Museum’s curators and volunteers throughout the year, resulting in objects changing their location regularly.
The Museum opens the Depot up to visitors for guided tours on a monthly basis, and twice a year we open the entire space up to the public during our Open Weekends. At present there are only a few pieces of interpretation around the store, so often visitors are left to guess what some of the items they are looking at are, or reply on staff and volunteers to advise them.
At London Transport Museum we have a fantastic group of Museum Friends and volunteers, each with their own incredible knowledge and opinions on items in our care. Some are involved with heritage outings, and others spend many hours carefully restoring objects to their former glory. Many of the Friends have a history of working for London Transport in some way, and as such can offer invaluable insight into the history of an object – how it worked, what it was used for, and why it was eventually decommissioned.
In the summer of 2011, a new trial project was launched in partnership with some Friends and volunteers. Called Depot Discoveries, this is a film based project which involves capturing the knowledge and stories the Friends have about objects in our collection on camera. The volunteers were trained in how to make films, so work both behind and in front of the camera, and so far seven short films have been made (they are in the editing process at the moment). One of these features our volunteers Dilwyn speaking about the vast ticket collection we have at our store. The films are all shot in situ with the objects they are referring to, allowing for viewers to gain an insight into how they work, what they represent and when they were used.
The plan is for new labels to be created in the coming months, each featuring a link to the films on YouTube. Visitors to the Depot will then be able to access these stories on their smart phone devices, using the Depot’s wifi network, thus bringing these objects to life. If it’s a success, we may even look to getting some devices for people to borrow, but we shall see!
It’s early days at the moment, but there has been a lot of enthusiasm for the project so far. Are you a Museum Friend or volunteer? Would you like to speak on camera about an object at our Depot? Please contact Jen Kavanagh at firstname.lastname@example.org if so!
On Saturday 19th November two of our volunteers, Tom Cavanagh and John Dodd, delivered the first official tours to the public on the museum’s art and poster collection at the Acton Depot. Visitors had the opportunity to take a peek at the extensive collection of works held in the art and poster stores, and learn all about how many of the works were made, why they were commissioned and how they came to be in the London Transport Museum’s collection. The art and poster stores are usually closed off to the public, and can only be accessed whilst either being supervised by staff or as part of a tour. Access to the Museum’s art and poster collection has been growing steadily this year, with a number of Poster Parade exhibitions at the museum in Covent Garden and regular features on the museum’s blog. And now we have tours of the collection too!
Throughout this year a number of our volunteers have spent many days being trained by our Safety and Citizenship, Visitor Services and Curatorial staff. One of the great things about volunteering with London Transport Museum is that our staff have a very hands on attitude, which allows our volunteers the opportunity to work closely alongside staff giving them a great insight into any tasks and projects they get involved with. Our volunteers have worked very hard researching their content, practising delivering and ironing out any small creases to the point they are feeling very comfortable with giving tours to willing visitors. Our next scheduled tours will be in January 2012, so make sure to book a ticket while you still can!
On Thursday 3rd November volunteers were present at the LTM Depot in Acton to assist the curatorial department with sorting and accessioning ephemera material to add to the collection. The Museum receives a vast amount of material through public and private donations, and volunteers are on hand on a regular basis to help out.
Fred Ivey assisted with checking bus timetables for duplications which had recently been donated to the museum, with timetables ranging in production dates from 1965 through to 2005, so there was plenty to keep him busy with. Brian Hawkins meanwhile took on the task of adding timetables to the collections IMS system, so that they could be officially logged and searched for by our curators to assist with future queries and museum research.
Earlier this year the wonderful Charlotte Stevenson undertook a curatorial internship here at London Transport Museum. Charlotte is now busy writing her final paper, however she has taken some time out to write about her experience below.
Curatorial (Conservation) Internship 31st May 2011 – 3rd August 2011, by Charlotte Stevenson
Over Summer I completed an internship at London Transport Museum focusing on a conservation project for the Uniform Collection in storage at the LTM Depot. This project was the basis for my final dissertation of my MA in Conservation.
The project was not just about making padded coat hangers so that the costumes are well supported when they hang, the objectives of the project were to conduct condition assessments of the entire collection, perform informed basic conservation treatments to ensure that the garments were clean and pest free, make basic storage enhancements and create guidelines and fact sheets for all treatments, storage enhancements and other preventive conservation treatments performed.
The Uniform Collection in the stores of the Museum’s Depot location with the Statutory Collection and a smaller Handling Collection combined contains a total of 884 objects. Some people would find looking for evidence of insect infestation, deterioration and damage boring but this is a fascinating area of museology. There is nothing I like more than freezing an item that has been infested by moths and then vacuum the evidence and other loose surface dirt away.
This internship greatly improved my knowledge of textiles conservation and collection care as well as integrated pest management. The internship also provided me with a holistic perspective on working in museums, making my career plan to work in museums concrete.
After completing all condition assessments, treatments and guidelines I performed a demonstration at the Curatorial Department Training on August 3rd 2011. Below is a screen shot from a recording showing me making a padded coathanger using polyester wadding, cotton stockingette and needle and thread on a plastic coathanger. You can even try this at home for your precious garments.