Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reshelving volunteering project, updated

I might as well post a quick update just for record's sake about the progress of volunteering.

After getting a reasonable way with the shelving project, it was put aside while we waited for more shelf fittings &c. So i've sort of been doing odds and ends a little, and some stuff that's semi-related. I've rearranged some of the nearby objects so they're on the shelves (roughly) in order. I've also inventoried a couple of sections of compactus units and gotten their location records up to date as well as labeling the shelves properly with their locations.

My supervisor and I have also collected together a lot of unregistered objects that have been unattended for far too long. I registered a few, and helped her do a few - as well as some items that'd been given back to the collection/research area from our Loans department. A few bits and pieces are being repatriated to communities, which she is handling, along with a lot of old photos and display panels which are of interest/use to communities.

My supervisor is away for a couple of weeks, but i'm able to keep working away on stuff while she's gone. Because we were still waiting on the shelving fittings before she left, she's given me printout lists of the bags and baskets in the QLD part of the collection to inventory and sort out - hopefully we'll also get to measuring/photographing/describing all of it properly, so that we can really update the database with some useful info and proper locations. That's going to have to wait, though, because the shelving stuff arrived the day after she went on holiday (ha!) - so it's back to the grunt work and installation for me.

But I know once that's sorted there will be more inventory and shelving and sorting stuff out, and that's the stuff I really dig. It might seem a little boring, but I really do like working in collection management and making sure that everything's where it should be, and the database is detailed with as much information as possible.



A Night at the Museum - film and reality

Just a few grabs from recent news:

Thousands visit Natural History Museum after Ben Stiller movie.
New York's American Museum of Natural History has seen a 20 percent jump in attendance over the holidays. And museum officials say it's due in part the new Ben Stiller comedy... But the museum's president says the increase in attendance can also be pinned on a spike in New York City tourism.

Don't forget your sleeping bag! American Museum of Natural History launches sleepover program.
"A Night at the Museum" monthly sleepover program officially begins Saturday, but word-of-mouth has spread quickly -- it's booked through March.

Suddenly, this museum is hot!
Attendance at the American Museum of Natural History, in Manhattan, soared higher than a T-rex skeleton over the holidays — thanks in large part to the popularity of the new kid-oriented comedy Night at the Museum.

Fake Museum Increases Attendance at Real Museum
To respond to the increased attendance and frequent movie-related questions of museum visitors, the AMNH "scoured the movie" (pity the poor intern with that duty!) so they could "tell visitors what was here and what wasn't" according to AMNH director of visitor services Brad Harris.


I pretty much figured this would be the case; the presence of any museum in the media (generally visual) will always mean an increase in interest, whether it's been seen via advertising or something like a film such as this. More often than not it will give a lot less than 100% of an idea of what the museum is and what it entails. (We get countless people phoning my work with little to no idea of what the museum/sciencentre actually are and what's in them.)

So with something like this, where you have a movie ostensibly set in a museum where it's really a set of a museum, there's going to be confusion, along with excitement. It's really, really awesome that the movie (which is fun and terrific, by the way) is making people enthusiastic about heading along to the AMNH again or for the first time (or heading along to any museums at all!). I can imagine it must be overwhelming for the staff and management somewhat - although I do wonder if they somehow wrangled it in their favour, to lend their name and facade to the film.

However! As the last quote highlights, folks are getting mismatched ideas between movie museum and real museum - of course people are going to be expecting the dioramas (&c) they see in the film - if i'd not been anywhere near the AMNH (as I haven't), i'd expect a reasonable amount of similarity - after all, the sets were magnificent. It's a real pity that the popularity of the museum has been such a boon for its popularity, but is in some ways also sabotaging its reputation, via the creation/enhancement of people's expectations.

I hope that the streak of popularity continues throughout the year and well beyond for the AMNH, but I also hope that it's because they have a strong enough presence (maybe even 'brand', if you like) and exhibitions/public programs interesting and enthusiastic enough to keep people entertained and coming back, regardless whether they've seen A Night at the Museum or not.


Friday, January 05, 2007

A slight frivolity..

Thieves beware: museum curators are after you

LONDON. Faced with the prospect of dissolution, the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police has come up with a new idea—to recruit curators and art historians as special constables. The scheme, dubbed Art Beat, is set to start in April. This is the first time the police has attempted to recruit such specialist volunteers.

Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley told The Art Newspaper that the scheme was devised after the Art squad was told by the Metropolitan Police Authority that it could be disbanded if it did not become 50% self-financing by 2008.

Art Beat Special Constables are being recruited from museums such as the Victoria & Albert and the British Museum, universities, insurance companies and other cultural organisations. After four weeks training in police procedure as well as specialist art squad techniques, volunteers will be sponsored by their employers to work as Special Constables for 200 hours a year or one day a fortnight. They will be uniformed and will have full police powers.

“The aim is to build bridges between the police and the art world and maintain a high visibility presence in areas with a high level of art sales,” said DS Rapley. “This could include patrolling antiques markets like Bermondsey or areas with clusters of art dealers like Kensington Church Street, Bond Street or Camden Passage, or undercover intelligence work.”

The Art and Antiquities Unit currently consists of only four full time officers. “At the moment we are not receiving as much information as we would like from the art trade,” said DS Rapley. “We have tried to recruit from areas with the kind of specialist knowledge that will benefit from our work.” So far the police have recruited archaeology and antiquities experts, and hope to have 14 constables trained by April.

Well, I will be looking for work in London later in the year... But seriously, i'd much rather be some kind of superhero-esque type, striving for vigilante justice in the blackmarket artefact trade world. There would be capes! I could be Super Curator! Really.

*primps her resume*