Caring for artworks and historic objects can be a complex process. The way they are stored, how frequently they are moved, and where they are displayed can all have an impact on their long-term condition. There is also increasing consideration being made of how works can be effectively documented, catalogued, labelled and contextualised as a way of ‘caring’ for them, through a thorough understanding of their creation and history. From individual objects to small private collections to major museums, these are concerns for those involved in ensuring the ongoing life of an historical object or artwork.
This third event in the ‘Considering Collecting’ series will look at some of the activities individuals and organisations undertake in caring for their collections and the objects in them. From research before acquisition, to preservation techniques, to unpacking how best to document and catalogue an under-explored collection, to the way that context and labels can allow a rich engagement with challenging collections, there are many ways to care for a collection and to realise its potential. Our panel will unpack the challenges and benefits of these processes of research, preservation, documentation, cataloguing and labelling across a range of collections.
This event is part of the Open Courtauld strand, organised by The Research Forum.
Rosemary Lynch – as Director of Collection Care at Tate 2013-21, Rosemary had the privilege of leading the teams responsible for caring for a national collection during a period of significant change, institutionally and globally. She worked closely with her colleagues to build a division with the vision, strength and flexibility to find sustainable solutions to the many challenges encountered every day when managing and preserving a dynamic collection and sharing it through Tate’s worldwide programme. A librarian by profession, Rosemary has over thirty years’ experience leading business innovation and cultural change across the arts, further and higher education sectors. Her practice has always been rooted in her values of openness and collaboration and she is committed to working in partnership with communities to open the arts and heritage to everyone.
Megan Narvey is the Outreach Conservator at the Minnesota Historical Society. She is a graduate of Carleton College and University College London (MA in Principles of Conservation; MSc in Conservation for Archeology and Museums). She has worked as the Postgraduate Fellow in Objects Conservation at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, Canada, and as Objects Conservator at the Western Archeological and Conservation Center in Tucson, Arizona.
Kathleen Lawther is a freelance curator specialising in the documentation of museum collections. For the past ten years she was worked with a diverse range of collections, including social history, costume, fine art, and ethnographic collections, in museums of all sizes. She has recently been awarded a Headley Fellowship by the Art Fund, for a project working with the Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent.
Marenka Thompson-Odlum is a Research Associate at the Pitt Rivers Museums and a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow. Her doctoral research explores Glasgow’s role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade through the material culture house at Glasgow Museums. At the Pitt Rivers Museum, she is the researcher on the Labelling Matters project, which investigates the problematic use of language within the museum spaces and ways of decolonisation through re-imagining the definition of a label.
The Considering Collecting Series
Collections of art and artefacts can be found everywhere, from major museums and galleries to the lobbies and offices of international businesses to people’s homes. Some collections are made by committee, influenced by trends and investments, while others are driven by personal taste and choice. Decisions about who and what to collect can be made strategically, based on gaps in an existing collection or the increasing value of a type of work, or can be more spontaneous and subjective, dependent on an affinity with an artist, medium, or period.
The six online events in the ‘Considering Collecting’ series explore collecting from different perspectives, lifting the lid on the behind-the-scenes of the art market and the museum sector. The series will cover a broad range of issues including: what motivates people and organisations to collect; the impact of digital technologies on collecting; caring for collections, including documenting, cataloguing, and labelling; how ephemeral artworks can be collected; the historical and contemporary position of women in the world of collecting; and how organisations are working to create more representative art collections.
Supported by Laurence C. Zale Associates, Inc., a visual arts advisory company