Since starting at the Museum back in November 2020, I’ve been really excited to get to know the wonderful and diverse collections at the Museum of Cambridge.
A key part of my role is to ensure the continued care of the collections, with our dedicated Collections Volunteer Team. Looking after objects in a 17th Century Inn can be quite complex, so when the opportunity arose to apply for an expert conservator to carry out a collections care audit, we felt it was opportunity not to be missed. Writing the grant application was a team effort with Trustees and Volunteers and we were so pleased to be awarded the AIM Collections Care Audit Grant with Icon and supported by The Pilgrim Trust in June.
You might wonder what a collections care audit involves. Firstly, we were assigned conservator Claire Fry from Spencer&Fry to carry out the audit. They visited in August, with their colleague Sophia Oelman. We began by looking at our display rooms and, as we walked around, Claire and Sophia had a monitor which gathered data on light and relative humidity levels. It’s important that the environmental conditions in the Museum stay within a particular range and do not have extreme fluctuations. For example, UV light coming through windows can damage objects because it causes colours to fade.
We then explored our behind-the-scenes store areas, spot checking boxes and discussing the best way to pack and store objects. This has led to us looking into re-packing and sourcing conservation grade boxes so that we can optimise our storage space.
During the visit, Carolyn, our wonderful Collections Advisor Volunteer provided expert knowledge and a history of the collections. We also talked about the exciting future of Museum with the Chair of the Board of Trustees Lucy and Trustee Roger.
After the visit, Claire produced a comprehensive report with actions and priorities for the care of our collections and we are really excited to have a refreshed direction. One of the areas we are already looking into is to source funding to install a better environmental monitoring system, so we can gather around the clock data and install de-humidifiers where needed.
This post was written by Aimee F, Collections Officer at the Museum of Cambridge.