Category: Collections

Launch of Reference Collection Search Portal

From the University of York:

We are delighted to announce the launch of the ‘National Zooarchaeological Reference Resource’ (NZRR), a specimen-level search portal for vertebrate skeletal collections in the UK. If you’ve ever found yourself desperately emailing colleagues to find that elusive specimen of chamois, burbot, etc., then this may be the solution.

Funded by a grant from Historic England, the NZRR so far includes data from 10 university zooarchaeology labs, 5 museums, one charitable trust, one private collection, and Historic England’s own zooarchaeology lab. We are expecting to add several additional collections in the near future, and welcome further submissions.

The resource is hosted by the Archaeology Data Service and is now live here.

Please take a look, try out some queries, and let us know what you think. Comments on the search interface are particularly welcome: we’re still working on this and already have a list of improvements in the pipeline.

Larger and Working Objects Guidelines

Invitation for Contributions

The Association of British Transport and Engineering Museums (ABTEM) has appointed the International Railway Heritage Consultancy (IRHC) to work with them to produce new guidelines for museums and private collectors with larger and working objects. 

It is looking for contributors from the sector to support this Arts Council funded project. 

For further details please download the full invitation letter .

Unlocking the vault: making the most of scientific collections

Manchester Museum
Monday 26th & Tuesday 27th June

Science and natural history collections include objects, specimens, models and illustrations which  are a goldmine of useful information and inspiration. They are immensely popular with the public, but are often cared for by non-specialists who can perceive them as difficult to work with. There is a danger that these collections can be forgotten, underused and undervalued.

Join us for this one and a half day conference looking at the innovative ways in which collections are being used. Speakers from historic collections across Europe will be joining us to discuss best practise in the use of scientific and natural history collections. We will be exploring ways to connect people to collections for greatest impact. 

We have an interesting programme of talks from expert speakers in three sessions: ‘Connecting collections and breaking isolation’, ‘Reaching out to new audiences’ and ‘New meanings through art, history and research’. 

Dr. Tim Boon, Science Museum Group. Science Museum Group Research and the Interdisciplinary Culture of Collections’

Mark Carnall, Oxford University Museum of Natural History. ‘Not real, not worth it?’

Dr Caroline Cornish, Royal Holloway, University of London. ‘Useful or curious’? Reinventing Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany’

Jocelyn Dodd, University of Leicester.Encountering the Unexpected:  natural heritage collections & successful aging’

Prof. Dirk van Delft, Boerhaave Museum. ‘Real bones for teaching medicine

Dr. Martha Flemming, V&A Museum. Title TBC

Dr Petra Tjitske Kalshoven, The University of Manchester. ‘The manikin in taxidermy: modelling conceptions of nature’.

Henry McGhie, Manchester Museum. ‘Beyond ‘natural history’: museums for the 21st century’

Dr. Laurens de Rooy, Museum Vrolik, Medical and natural history collections as historical objects: a change of perspective?

Dr. Marjan Scharloo, Teylers Museum. Title TBC

Dr. Cornelia Weber, Coordination Centre for Scientific University Collections in Germany. ‘Back to the Roots: University Collections as Infrastructure for Research and Teaching

Prof. Yves Winkin, Musée des arts et métiers.  An amateur director, professional curators, and a desire for a cabinet of curiosities

To book a place please visit the Manchester Museum eventbrite page

The conference is part of the programming to support Object Lessons, our upcoming exhibition celebrating the scientific model and illustration collection of George Loudon. Each of these finely crafted objects was created for the purpose of understanding the natural world through education, demonstration and display. This exhibition combines Loudon’s collection with models from Manchester Museum and World Museum, Liverpool. The conference is generously supported by the Wellcome Collection.

Job Opportunity: Blackpool Heritage Service

Circus Collection Project Support Officer
£20,456 – £22,434
Full time, temporary until 30th January 2019
Closing date 5th June 2017

The Tower Circus opened in 1894 and has run continuously ever since. It is one of the most historically significant circus venues in the world. The Blackpool Tower Circus collection reflects the importance of both the venue and the rich cultural legacy of the circus community. It is a stunning collection which to date has had limited public access.

The Blackpool Heritage Service has received a grant from the Collections Fund – delivered by the Museums Association to deliver a collections care and public access project called Marvels and Mayhem. It is seeking a Project Support Officer who will play a crucial role in the coordination and delivery of the project through a range of activities.

The project is made up of a number of different strands. Initially the focus will be on cataloguing and improving collections care to prepare the collections for wider public access activities. There will be three engagement elements – a partnership development with the School of Society, Health and Childhood at Blackpool and the Fylde College, supporting members of the circus community to engage with the collection, and the collection will be used as inspiration for a creative writing project with local schoolchildren.

The main duties and responsibilities of this post will include coordination of the different project strands, improving safe access to the collection through preventative conservation, volunteer coordination and supervision, developing good working relationships with project partners, support the development of relationships with the circus community and monitoring project progress.

The successful candidate will have a degree in a related subject (e.g. history, heritage management), experience of working in a museum environment, experience of project delivery and be able to demonstrate relationship building, people skills and partnership working.

Please note all applications must be submitted online. CVs cannot be accepted. For more information and an informal discussion please contact Caroline Hall, Collections Manager, Blackpool Council. Tel: 01253 476631.

For further details see

FREE Collections Trust Workshop: An introduction to SPECTRUM 5.0


13th July 2017

Education Room at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston

Arrival from 10am

10.15am – 4pm

Click here to book a place.

Have a question about museum documentation or the SPECTRUM standard?

This session will explore the basics of museum documentation, its importance and how it can be approached by different organisations. We will explore museum documentation with a focus on accountability and Accreditation. Together, we will review the SPECTRUM Primary Procedures, required for Accreditation, identifying potential actions for your organisation.

Over the past year Collections Trust have been working on a revised edition of the SPECTRUM collections management standard, following extensive consultation with the museum sector. This new edition, SPECTRUM 5.0, will be launched in June 2017. Sarah Brown, Outreach Officer for Collections Trust, will introduce key changes within this standard. This workshop will therefore be useful for those new to the topic, as well as those looking for a refresher.

We request that attendees bring examples of their organisation’s documentation and/or documentation procedural manual, for discussion during the day.

Delegates will be encouraged to participate through discussions and activities, and there will be plenty of opportunity for questions throughout.

This session will be led by Sarah Brown, Outreach Officer for Collections Trust. Sarah joined Collections Trust in April 2016. Originally training as a conservator, Sarah has worked in a variety of collections management and care roles across the UK, including National Museums Scotland and Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent.

As part of Collections Trust’s Arts Council England funded Activity Plan, Sarah will be delivering around 100 events across the English regions, developed in collaboration with the Museum Development Network. The programme will be varied, with themes and delivery approach responding to local needs, ranging from digitisation and copyright to documentation planning and backlogs.

Learning Objectives:

  • The role of Collections Trust
  • Collections Trust resources
  • Basic museum documentation
  • The SPECTRUM standard within the context of Accreditation
  • The SPECTRUM Primary Procedures
  • Using and applying SPECTRUM within your organisation, including documentation procedural manuals.
  • Introducing changes and updates to the SPECTRUM standard.

“How to use EMu” training course

Places are potentially available on an EMu collections management software course to museums in the North West. See below for details:

“My name is Karen Banister and I recently started work as Documentation Officer with Lancashire County Council Museum Service. I’m interested in the two day course run by Axiell (, “How to use EMu”. As there are no plans to run this course in the North West in the near future, I’m looking at the possibility of Axiell trainers running a course in Preston for eight people, including myself. I’m trying to gauge interest first before anything is booked.

The details are:

EMu Training Course
Seven people wanted to participate in a two day course, run by Axiell trainers.
“How to use Emu” – The objective of this course is to introduce users to the EMu collections management system. On completion, trainees will know how to use EMu to perform common tasks in managing their organisation’s collection.

Location: North West. Venue with wi-fi available in Preston at Lancashire Conservation Studios. Laptops required.

Cost: £250 (to be paid by each participant)

Date: to be confirmed

Please contact Karen Banister if you are interested,

ABTEM Larger & Working Objects Guidelines – Call For Interested Parties

The Association of British Transport & Engineering Museums (ABTEM) has recently appointed the International Railway Heritage Consultancy (IRHC) to work with them to produce new guidelines for museums and private collectors with larger and working objects. The guidelines will cover stationary engines, industrial machinery, road vehicles, aircraft, railway vehicles, ships, boats and other working items.

Standards first published by the former Museums & Galleries Commission have been used widely by specialists and non-specialists alike since they were first published in 1994, but after two decades of experience now need updating.

The project is supported by grant from the Arts Council England through their Museum Resilience funding stream that enables museums to become more sustainable.

We are looking for interested parties such as individual curators, conservators or staff from museums with large or working objects in their collections that would be able to feed into the process by either responding to questionnaire or submitting case studies that illustrate the decision-making process and conservation ethos of a particular treatment.

Selected case studies will be included in the new guidelines, available at the end of 2017.

The guidelines will be widely publicised and promoted, including through a programme of seminars scheduled between October 2017 and March 2018.

For further information contact Efstathios Tsolis, Associate Consultant, email, tel. +44 (0) 7726419551

For more information about ABTEM visit
For more information about IRHC visit
For more information about ACE visit

Money and Medals Network Training Day: Identification of Medieval Coinage

Department of Coins and Medals, the British Museum
Monday 15th May 2017, 10:00-16:00

This free one-day event will be held in the Coins and Medals Department at the British Museum and is open to anyone working or volunteering with Medieval coins in UK museums and other public institutions. The day will be run by two curators of Medieval coinage at the British Museum, Dr Barrie Cook and Dr Gareth Williams, and will give attendees the chance to learn some identification skills as well as how to approach the documentation of Medieval coins on a museum database.

More details will be available soon,  to book your place please email Henry Flynn, Project Curator: Money and Medals Network,

Places are strictly limited due to the size of the training room available so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Society for Museum Archaeology: Museums Collecting Archaeology Report

(Are Museums Running out of Staff, Space and Time?)

For a number of years Historic England has supported the gathering of information on local authority staffing levels in planning and Historic Environment Record (HER) services but there has been no concomitant survey of museums, despite such institutions supporting archaeological project work through the curation of archive material.

The first of three annual reports commissioned by Historic England and produced by the Society for Museum Archaeology (SMA) has now been released, using quantitative and qualitative data gathered by online survey from 200 respondents in England that represent museums which collect or hold archaeological material.

The report is available to download from the SMA website here. Any questions or feedback relating to the report can be directed to the SMA via their website here.

Call for Papers for Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities 2017

From The National Archives and Research Libraries UK :

What: The Cultural Value of Collections and the Creative Economy
When: Monday, 27th – Wednesday, 29th November 2017
Where: The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ

The National Archives and Research Libraries UK are delighted to announce the call for papers for this year’s Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference to be held between 27 and 29 November 2017 at the Lowry, Salford Quays, Manchester. 

The conference will bring together colleagues from across the heritage, library, and academic sectors, in a vibrant and inclusive setting. We will discuss ways of enhancing cross-sector collaboration, collectively seizing new opportunities, and facing joint challenges.

Call for Papers

In today’s uncertain political and economic climate the ability to demonstrate why heritage and culture matter – and to whom – has never been more important or relevant. The ways in which we gather, measure and present evidence of cultural value and impact has attracted increasing attention in recent years, as emphasis has led to a stronger focus on the experience of individuals and of communities.

Archives, libraries, museums and heritage organisations across the UK and further afield have played a leading role in this movement. They have actively looked to examine, capture and measure the wider social, cultural and economic impact of their collections, and to engage more effectively with a wider variety of audiences. Work in this area continues to evolve, as does the need for new and better ways of evidencing value and impact through continuing research and the effective sharing of experiences within and between sectors.

DCDC17 will consider how, by working collaboratively through networks of  inter and cross-disciplinary initiatives, we can continue to improve and develop methodologies in order to build a strong evidence base to demonstrate the  cultural value of collections and their contribution to the creative economy. 

The main conference themes will include, but are not limited to, the following:


DCDC welcomes proposals on collaborative projects involving library, archive, museum, heritage and cultural sectors in partnership with the academic sector, communities, education and funders.

 For 2017, we would particularly be interested on submissions within the following themes:

  • Heritage and the human experience: hidden voices, social cohesion, diversity and public wellbeing
  • The cultural landscape: heritage buildings, regeneration, and engaging audiences with real and imagined environments
  • Curative collections: understanding and reflecting voices in conflict, dissent, displacement, repatriation and recovery
  • New value in old things: opening up collections through original research, heritage science, the internet, and digital technology
  • Collections and enterprise: the challenges and opportunities of utilising collections for revenue generation, managing the relationship between culture and the corporate, and overcoming the hurdles of copyright
  • Innovative interpretations: presenting traditional collections to new audiences through art, design, and performance
  • Measuring value: Holistic value frameworks, benchmarking, cultural and academic partnerships, impact, and the REF
  • The politics of collections: advocacy for collections, funding, institutional and community support and investment.


The conference organisers invite abstracts for the delivery of 20-minute presentations. 10 minutes will be allowed for questions after each presentation.


The conference organisers also invite the submission of abstracts for panel proposals. Panels should include three 20-minute papers and include a named panel chair. They can be submitted on any pertinent topic within the conference theme and can include papers relating to an individual project, emerging initiative, or ‘state of the nation’ overview.

Workshops & roundtables

As part of DCDC17 the organisers also welcome proposals for:

Practical workshops on (but not limited to):

  • funding and sustainability
  • interactive projects
  • education & outreach
  • Roundtable sessions by professional networks & societies

All workshops should involve a high level of interactivity and/or training which should be clearly demonstrated in the abstract. 

Roundtable sessions should include no more than five speakers speaking for five minutes each. We encourage professional networks and societies to lead on these sessions discussing issues relevant to the conference theme.

Both workshops and roundtables should be open to all conference delegates and require no prior knowledge or preparation.

Submission format

All submissions should be presented in the following format in a word document as an email attachment:

  • Name, job title and organisation of speaker/s
  • Presentation/panel/seminar title
  • A summary of no more than 100 words (this will be printed in the conference programme)
  • A more detailed abstract of no more than 300 words
  • Any scheduling conflicts for speakers


All abstracts should be submitted to both Melanie Cheung ( and Laura Tompkins ( by Sunday 30 April.

Any submissions received after the deadline will not be considered. 

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in contact with the conference organisers.