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Pilgrim Trust Collections Care Audit – Malton Museum
Malton Museum’s main collections come from excavations that took place between 1925 and 1970. The Museum also holds archaeological material from subsequent, smaller excavations. These collections have been augmented by generous donations from members of the public of a wide variety of objects, of all historical periods, from Malton, Norton and the surrounding area of Ryedale.
Malton Museum had applied for and received a grant to carry out a collections care audit in order to formalise conservation and collections care needs and identify key care issues and priorities.
The application identified a number of areas of concern to the Museum:
- Stores: the audit provided useful advice on dehumidifiers and on improving storage conditions through, for example, the use of Tyvek sheeting. It also highlighted the shortcomings of the rooms currently in use and the difficulties of trying to improve the conditions within them significantly. In so doing it has confirmed that the main priority needs to be to find a better storage location for the archaeological collections.
- Paper archive: between the submission of the application and the audit taking place, the Museum was obliged to move its paper archive and social history collection to a different location. However, this move has provided more space, and hence the audit was able to recommend the procurement of suitable equipment (i.e. a plan chest) that can be accommodated in the new location.
- Exhibition rooms: the audit was able to advise on changing the emphasis from monitoring environmental conditions in the room to monitoring those inside the cases; it also allayed some concerns that the older display cases might not be appropriate to continue using.
- The Museum was looking to the audit to help it identify the issues which most urgently need to be addressed (aside from finding new premises); not only has it done that, but it has also indicated those areas in which grant funding could be applied for. And the audit identified other areas of need: specifically, the need to monitor for pests, and also the need to measure light levels in the exhibition rooms.
The Museum has benefitted not only from the content of the written report, but also from the helpful advice and information that was offered by the conservator whilst the audit was in progress; for example, how to devise a suitable housekeeping schedule for the stores, and how to implement the systematic condition checking of the material stored there.
The audit has met the Museum’s expectations by acknowledging the things it is currently doing well, advising on things it could do better, and highlighting things it is not currently doing but should be. Furthermore, it has provided an expert assessment of the current archaeology stores, their shortcomings and the difficulties in trying to address those, hence providing confirmation that conditions in the current stores are the major concern in terms of collections care and that it is important to seek out new premises that can offer more suitable conditions.
David Snowden, Deputy Voluntary Collections Manager