Object Handling at the National Museum of Scotland

Posted on November 5, 2013 | in Collections, Library & University Collections | by

As part of our continuous personal and professional development, we’re encouraged to attend as many training workshops as we can. Luckily for us, National Museums Scotland run a fantastic (and free!) series of Knowledge Exchange training programmes, which cover everything from pest management to caring for firearm collections.

Me and Colette signed ourselves up for their Object Handling and Packaging course, held last Friday in the brilliant National Museum of Scotland. The morning passed quickly with a presentation on handling and packing books and manuscripts by Isobel Griffin, Collections Care Manager, National Library of Scotland, before moving onto more general collections.

Chanté St Clair Inglis, Collections Store Manager, NMS, gave us an overview of the process of moving everything you can think of: musical instruments, ceramics, textiles, metal, mixed materials, ethnographic collections… All of which made me very happy to be (mostly) dealing with paintings and sculpture every day! We also got the theory behind why we do certain things (like our choice of gloves, or the packaging materials we use), to reiterate their importance.

After a very tasty lunch we got stuck into the practical exercises. Moving around in small groups, we were taught how to make a four flap enclosure by Simona Cenci, Conservator, NLS, which can be used to protect any book. We were also shown how to package textiles (creating tissue sausages and snowballs), and how to package books for moving. There were also reminders on how to make jiffy foam corners – an essential skill for painting wrapping.
I was happy to learn the art of pinning (using plastazote and bread trays to house small objects securely), which I’m already planning to use in a future project.

Overall, it was a really interesting day, with plenty of opportunity for questions and chat with the other attendees. But now, after learning all the technical bits about why we use gloves, or pack objects in certain ways, I keep thinking things like this when I see other people interacting inappropriately with objects…

Anna Hawkins, ECA Collections Assistant

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