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Geology and Palaeontology Curatorial Training

Museum Name

Dinosaur Isle, part of Isle of Wight Heritage Service

Museum Contact

Alex Peaker, Learning Assistant

Title of Project

Week long curatorial training project

Dates

27th – 31st January 2014

What were the Project aims?

To further the staff of Dinosaur Isle in the curation of the collection.

To look at documentation within a national museum to compare and see what benefits the different processes can bring to our museum.

To work with digitisation of the collection to compare records within the museum databases, and see how this is presented to the public.

To work with packaging materials and techniques to adequately store and display specimens.

What was the impact of the project?

Staff at the museum have better knowledge of appropriate techniques and materials to be used with the packaging and mounting of specimens.

More in depth levels of information are to be recorded of specimen history, facilitating enquiries and giving greater control over the propagation of our resources/collection.

Work on specimens has been improved, with clean and relatively inexpensive mounts are being created rather than the bulky armatures usually associated with dinosaur displays.

Methods of presenting interpretation to the public are being improved with QR codes currently being trialled to encourage people to engage with the displays.

What went well and what didn’t go well?

Due to the length of the programme the timing of the project was quite constrained as to not impede on the regular work of staff, but was organised easily enough non the less. The hosts made themselves available at the best opportunity for me.

The trainer Emma Bernard (Curator of Fossil Fish) was incredibly knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. Emma is very skilled at her work, had created a very beneficial programme of work, and was able to answer all queries with ease.

Several staff at the Natural History Museum made themselves available to give advice on other work, including Zoe Hughes, who gave a great insight into their collection of Isle of Wight cephalopods and their curation, and Mark Graham who showed the use of epopast, a mouldable substance used for the protection of specimens and the creation of display mounts. Epopast is now being used within the museum and has been used to make a mount for a recently donated dinosaur skeleton.

Top Tips

The experience of staff working with similar collections can be extremely valuable and can give unexpected ideas on collection management.

Larger (National) museums can have a greater number of resources to local museums which can help the progression of work in different institutions.

What are your plans for the future?

The project has identified the need for further work to be done in association with research requests, in particular documentation of specimens that have been worked with. Further guidelines are currently being set up for visiting researchers on the use of specimens in publications.

Overall Cost of Project

£455.37 travel and accommodation funded by the Hampshire Solent Museum Development Training Bursary scheme.