Energy in Store will explore the constraints and opportunities regarding access, consultation and communication between the Science Museum Group and the volunteer heritage sector. The project aims to ensure that the collections are as well-understood, and well-used as possible.
The Group’s collections include around 425,000 objects, and in total seven million items including books, archival records, photographs and other media. Although some of these are on permanent display in the museums, and others will feature in special exhibitions and loans to other venues, most of them will remain in the stores for the foreseeable future.
However, these ‘stored’ objects represent a vital resource for historical researchers of all kinds, now and in future generations. The project is bringing together curators from the Science Museum Group and lay experts for a series of structured discussions about the Group’s stored collections.
This small working-group of curators and experts are united by an interest in the history of energy. Together they will be exploring the roles that the stored collections play in the research of different communities with an interest in energy heritage.
What skills and opportunities do these communities bring to the collections? Enthusiast historians of technology often include former professional engineers, model builders, or even inventors, who have detailed knowledge and practical skills that are vital to shedding new light on the collections, and also to bringing them to life. They are often the stalwarts of, and advocates for, volunteer museums and demonstration sites across the UK.
John Wallett and Aura Films will be producing a video documentary that records the group’s diverse perspectives on the stored collections. The working group will also co-produce a series of recommendations.
The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant ref: AH/P013678/1 official title: Integrating Forms of Care: building communities of practice around reserve collections).
It is being delivered by Dr Anna Woodham, King’s College London, Jack Kirby, Group Head of Collection Services, SMG, and Dr Elizabeth Haines, Research Associate, Science Museum, London, between July 2017 and July 2018.