Category: Collections

Numismatics training day

Leeds University Library
Friday 27th October, 10am-4pm

There are still places available on a numismatics training day this Friday run by the Money & Medals Network. The day is an opportunity to learn more about the storage, documentation and display of coins and medals as well as local numismatic projects and there will also be an introduction to Chinese coinage. The event will also provide a chance to meet people working with similar collections at other museums in the interest of sharing knowledge, ideas and expertise.

This event is FREE to attend and open to anyone working or volunteering with numismatic collections in museums in Yorkshire and beyond.

To book a place please email Peter Webster:


Consultancy Opportunity: MDNW

Project Co-ordinator, Women in STEM (working title) Phase 1

Job Title: Project Coordinator
Status: Freelance Contract
Duration: November 2017 – March 2018
Fee: £5,000 inclusive of travel costs. Can be home-based or office-based in Manchester. The post involves some travel around the North West

We are looking for an organised project co-ordinator to work with us to scope out the potential, and to develop a funding bid, for an industrial heritage-based project. The project will use museum collections to showcase the achievements of women in the North West in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Across the North West there are museum collections that tell the stories of the achievements of women in the traditionally male-dominated STEM fields, from Paradise Mill in Macclesfield which featured in a recent BBC documentary about Ada Lovelace who worked on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general purpose computer, to the Armitt’s collection of Beatrix Potter’s botanical drawings which supported her research as a mycologist. Some stories are better known that others and this project is an opportunity to give prominence to some of these lesser known women alongside the more familiar.

The scoping part of the project will run from November 2017 to March 2018.  Phase 2, the delivery of the project, is intended to run through 2018 and 2019, overlapping with the Great Exhibition of the North, the centenaries of the Representation of the People Act giving some women the vote and of Nancy Astor taking her place in Parliament as the first female MP.

Please see the full brief for details of key tasks in the contract – Women in STEM coordinator brief

For further details about Museum Development North West visit our website, If you have any questions about the project please contact Lynsey Jones, Museum Development Officer,

To apply:
Please send a proposal outlining how you will deliver the contract, submitted by email to Lynsey Jones, by 5pm Monday 23rd October 2017. Full requirements are outlined in the brief.

Interviews will take place in Manchester on Wednesday 1st November 2017.

Making more of collections programme

The final details have been confirmed for our “Making more of collections” programme. Please note that the date for the first session is coming up soon.

MDNW have partnered with Manchester Museum, the Whitworth , Wordsworth Trust, the Human Remains Subject Specialist Network and Collections Trust to develop a series of taster session workshops looking at five different collection specialism areas: Human Remains; Geology, Botany and Entomology; Textiles; Manuscripts, Books and Fine Art; and Ethnography. The sessions are designed to inspire and raise confidence levels of delegates to make the most of areas of their collections that may be underused. They will give an overview of a variety of themes linked to working with collections such as:

  • Research and identification
  • Storage and display techniques
  • Basic care
  • Using collections to engage audiences

A sixth session with be run by Collections Trust, looking at Collection Reviews and Rationalisation, with case studies focusing on some of the collection areas covered in the previous workshops.

This series of training days will be used by MDNW to help develop packages of support around some of the subject areas from 2018 onwards.

Introduction to dealing with human remains
Led by: Margaret Clegg, Human Remains Subject Specialist Network
7th September 2017, 10am-4pm
Manchester Museum

Many museums and institutions within the UK hold remains as part of their collections; however outside the large institutions the collections are usually cared for by non-specialist curation staff, students or volunteers.

The seminar aims to provide an introduction to the basic skills and information needed in caring for human remains by using the skills and expertise of the Human Remains SSN members who are trained in all aspects of the care of human remains from curation to the legal and ethical requirements of holding these remains. This seminar is intended for those with no experience of working with human remains and is suitable for those newly employed in museums that have responsibility for human remains but no professional training, and for volunteers within the sector who also have responsibilities for human remains.

The seminar will cover major issues, such as documentation, access, ethics, the law, display and conservation. The morning and early afternoon sessions will be presentations on each of the areas above. Then the session will concentrate on working through various problems involved in the aspects of the care of human remains which participants will discuss in small groups and feed back to the whole group.

Tea, coffee and lunch will be provided. There are bursaries available to cover the cost of the course and travel to the venue. Applications for places will be on a first come basis but please state if you wish to apply for a bursary. It is also possible to pay to attend and this cost will be very small to cover expenses..

To book a place, and to find out more detail about the bursaries and costs, please email Stef Vincent,

Introduction to geology, botany and entomology
Led by: David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Science Collections, Rachel Webster, Curator of Botany, Dmitri Logunov, Curator of Anthropods, all Manchester Museum, Simon Jackson, Curator, Tullie House Museum
23rd October 2017, 10am-4pm
Manchester Museum

This session will look at three areas of natural science collections to support non-specialist museum staff to explore ways to identify, care for and use natural science collections in creative ways to engage audiences. The expert staff from Manchester Museum and Tullie house will share their insights into working with some of the most interesting objects in your collections and how to unlock their potential.

Follow link to book:

 Introduction to textiles
Led by: Uthra Rajgopal, Curator (Maternity Cover: Textiles and Wallpaper) and Curatorial Assistant (South Asian Textiles), and Amy George, Curator (Textiles and Wallpaper), The Whitworth
2nd November 2017 10am-1pm
The Study, The Whitworth

This practical session will support delegates to find out how to make more of textile collections including: how to deepen your understanding of the material you have; how to care for and store textiles; and a chance to see exhibitions that demonstrate how to use textiles to engage audiences.

Follow link to book:

 Paper based collections – manuscripts, books and fine art
Led by Jeff Cowton, Curator and Head of Learning, Wordsworth Trust
6th December 2017, 11am-1pm for main session and 2pm-3.30pm for tour of house and chance to explore the reading room
Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere

This session will explore the enjoyment, care and interpretation of works on paper in the Wordsworth Trust’s collection, based around the poet William Wordsworth and the story of the discovery of the Lake District 250 year ago – whether these items be in the form of single sheets, home-made notebooks or bound volumes.

Delegates will get the chance to handle original works from the Designated Collection, exploring their make-up (looking for watermarks, for example), trying out techniques used in their creation (making ink and using quills) and generally looking at the clues that tell us something about the creation of pieces from the collection – and how this has changed over time. The session will also involve discussion of how the Trust cares for its collection, and how they use them in interpretation and outreach work. It will be a fascinating and enjoyable day and a chance to get to see how manuscripts have stories that go beyond the words on the page.

Follow link to book:

Introduction to ethnographic collections
Stephen Welsh, Curator of Living Cultures, Manchester Museum
14th December 2017, 10am-1pm
Manchester Museum

This session will give delegates fantastic insight into how to make more of ethnographic collections by hearing from Stephen who is responsible for 18,000 ethnographic objects from Africa, America, Asia and the Pacific which form part of the collections at Manchester museum. He will talk about his inspiring work of working with the collections, including his involvement in the development of a new South Asia gallery that is being developed at Manchester Museum in partnership with the British Museum and South Asian Communities.

Follow link to book:

Collection Review and Rationalisation
Led by: Sarah Brown, Outreach Officer, Collections Trust
22nd February 2018, 10am-4pm
Lancashire Conservation Studios, Preston

This session will explore the benefits of collection reviews and rationalisation, to both the museum and visitor. The session will also introduce different methodologies, frameworks and case studies focussing on some of the collection areas from the ‘Making more of Collections’ series.

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

This session is part of Collections Trust’s Arts Council England funded Activity Plan, developed in collaboration with Museum Development teams.

Follow link to book:

Pulling together: Collections Trust 2017 Conference

21st September 2017
The Hospitium, Museum Gardens, York

Being responsible for collections management can feel like ploughing a lone furrow. But it’s actually a museum-wide task that needs everyone to pull together – from the governing body to the people on the front desk. This year’s Collections Trust conference considers the human side of documentation systems, the people who capture and share information that gives museum objects meaning.

Wednesday 20 September 2017: pre-conference evening meet-up

Thursday 21 September 2017: registration and refreshments: 9:30am, conference: 10:00am – 5:00pm

For further information and to book tickets see

FREE Collections Trust Workshop: An introduction to Spectrum 5.0

Spectrum 5.0

10th November 2017

Lancashire Conservation Studios, Preston

Arrival from 10am

10.15am – 4pm

Click here to book a place.

Have a question about museum documentation or the Spectrum standard?

Due to popularity, Collections Trust are running the session again for the region. 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.

Collections Trust Award 2017 – £2,000 prize

The Collections Trust Award recognises the achievements of those who manage the collections that lie at the heart of all museums. This year, Collections Trust is looking for great examples of collections management projects that demonstrate everyone in the museum pulling together. For the first time the award comes with £2,000 for the winning museum and an opportunity to present your project at the Collections Trust conference.

Entry is open to all Accredited UK museums and galleries. The closing date is Monday 4 September 2017.

For more information see


Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund Now Open

First round application deadline is 6th December

Initial applications to the 14th round of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, which helps museums develop collections to achieve social impact, will be accepted by the Museums Association (MA) until the deadline of 6 September.

This round will see £600,000 of grants available for applications for funding from £20,000 to £120,000, for projects that will last up to three years.

In the first instance, applicants should call or email to discuss their idea with Sally Colvin, the MA’s programmes manager, or Sarah Briggs, the MA’s collections development officer.

Initial applications will be shortlisted by the end of September and informed whether or not they can proceed to a full application, which must be completed by 18 October. The successful applicants will be announced in early December.

Subject Specialist Network for Islamic Art & Material Culture support 2017-18

The specialist support scheme aims to provide regional museums with a toolkit to help them unlock the potential of their collections of Islamic Art & Material Culture (IAMC) and use them to engage with new and diverse audiences. It will provide a bespoke package of flexible, specialist and practical support through a scalable programme that can be tailored to the needs of individual institutions. At least one tangible output, such as a new display, knowledge sharing or outreach event should result from that specialist support.  Funding is provided through an ACE Resilience Fund Grant awarded to the SSN for Islamic Art & Material Culture (see: There is up to £5,075 available for support for each museum.

What collections areas are relevant?
The remit of the SSN is defined broadly and currently incorporates:

  • Historic collections of IAMC from regions where Islam is, or was, the dominant religion (e.g. Middle East, North Africa, Iran, Mughal India)
  • Contemporary art from the Middle East
  • Art and artefacts from other regions inspired by or with an association to the Middle East and dating from the 19th century to the present day

Eligibility in 2017-18
Applications this year are open to Accredited museums and those working towards Accreditation across England, but priority will be given to those in regions not already targeted by the scheme, namely those in the East of England and the East Midlands. Applications can be led by collections, curatorial and/or engagement and outreach staff.

How will the scheme operate?
The scheme is split into sections that should follow each other:

1) Visits by specialists to your institution for a minimum of one day, or a maximum of five days based on your requirements. Where necessary a freelance photographer can be provided to create digital images of up to 30 objects. Support and advice from an object conservator is also available. A report resulting from those visits will be produced by specialists and given to each institution. It is a key requirement that these visits actively involve members of staff, enabling them to become confident stewards of their IAMC collections.

2) Outputs should result from the knowledge and understanding of your collections developed from the specialist visits. Those outputs must be designed and selected by the participating institution but should focus on increasing public engagement with your IAMC collection and, where possible, on sharing your new found expertise with other intuitions in your region.. This second phase must be completed by end of March 2018.

Selection for the scheme is based on a written application. If your application is unsuccessful, you are still invited to access other support offered by the SSN in the form of study days and bursary scheme for museum professionals.

Application process
Applications deadline is 5pm on Monday 7th August 2017. Please apply by completing the on-line form available here:

For full information see If you have any queries please contact the SSN via with ‘Specialist Support Scheme’ clearly stated in the subject line.



Civilisations Festival

Register your interest with this exciting partnership between museums and galleries and the BBC

It is now nearly half a century since Kenneth Clark’s series Civilisation thrilled audiences with its authoritative interpretation of the glories of Western art. Inspired by that groundbreaking programme, the new series of Civilisations on BBC Two will introduce a new generation to the great masterworks of beauty, ingenuity and illumination created across the continents.

The Civilisations Festival will run alongside the series in Spring 2018. We are inviting museums, galleries and libraries to schedule events to spark debate, broaden understanding and share ideas about what is meant by the term civilisation.

The content of the events is up to your organisation. It could be a debate or a keynote speech, a performance or a hands-on workshop using an item from your collection as the starting point.

Branding will be supplied so that you can let your visitors know that the event is part of the Civilisations Festival. Curators and speakers could be invited as guests on the BBC’s programmes. In some cases, stations may decide to cover your event in an outside broadcast.

The festival runs from Friday 2 March to Friday 11 March. Register your organisation’s interest by emailing

Find out more at:

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.