This project explored opportunities and constraints regarding access, consultation and communication between the Science Museum Group and the volunteer heritage sector.
The project aimed to ensure that the Science Museum Group's collections are as well-understood and well-used as possible.
The Group’s collections include around 425,000 objects, and in total seven million items including books, archival records, photographs and other media. Although some of these are on permanent display in the museums, and others will feature in special exhibitions and loans to other venues, most of them will remain in the stores for the foreseeable future.
However, these ‘stored’ objects represent a vital resource for historical researchers of all kinds, now and in future generations.
Enthusiast historians of technology often include former professional engineers, model builders, or even inventors, who have detailed knowledge and practical skills that are vital to shedding new light on the collections, and also to bringing them to life. They are often the stalwarts of, and advocates for, volunteer museums and demonstration sites across the UK.
Over a year, the project bought together curators from the Science Museum Group and lay experts for a series of structured discussions about the Group’s stored collections.
This small working-group of curators and enthusiast historians of technology were united by an interest in the history of energy. Together they explored the roles that the stored collections play in the research of different communities with an interest in energy heritage.
John Wallett and Aura Films documented the group’s diverse perspectives on the stored collections.
Dr Anna Woodham, King’s College London
Jack Kirby, Group Head of Collection Services, SMG
Dr Elizabeth Haines, Research Associate, Science Museum, London
The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant ref: AH/P013678/1 official title: Integrating Forms of Care: building communities of practice around reserve collections).