Conservation ‘matchmaking’ project

A piloting project to match AIM members with conservation students took place over the summer.

Prompted by CHEIN – a network of higher education institutions working with ICON – the pilot sought to build supportive networks for both students and museums and encourage the sharing of knowledge and experience related to collection care and management.

Whilst not an alternative to the qualified professional, as emerging professionals, students have the potential to bring current thinking, creative ideas, adaptability, problem solving skills and practical suggestions relating to conservation practices and collection care. At the end of their engagement they fed back their thoughts to their University teachers, shared below.

University College London student, Red House Glass Cone in Stourbridge:

“I’ve been working with the Red House Glass Cone in Stourbridge. The project is to compile recommendations for the conservation of
the collection of industrial equipment at the Red House Glass Cone. I participated in a site visit and was able to view the objects in their current contexts and gain more information concerning the history of the site, as well as its current and future uses.

Since then, I have begun working on two documents: one containing general suggestions as to collections conservation, including a section focused on wood and metal objects; and the second containing suggestions specific to an object list. I have been drawing from course material from my degree programme (MA Principles of Conservation) as well as resources and published works from other sources, such as the Canadian Conservation Institute.”

University of Lincoln student, Historic Croydon Airport Trust (HCAT):

“It was a good opportunity to see the museum’s photographic collection and highlight some areas to concentrate on. They have limited funds to implement the preventative measures on the whole collection immediately but have started to archive some of the collection.

Since my initial visit I have forwarded some useful information about the preservation of photographic material, and storage solutions and on the photographic material that needs prioritising due to how it deteriorates. I’m sure we will stay in contact.”

Cardiff University student, River and Rowing Museum:

“I undertook a week’s placement at the River and Rowing Museum within their collections department. I received a Covid-19 CPD grant from the Anna Plowden Trust which enabled me to undertake this placement. I worked across the main museum building and the offsite storage area, providing preventative conservation support for their ongoing Collections Care Project. The placement involved working across a variety of objects including archivematerials, wooden objects, ceramics, and textiles. I was able to use my knowledge of conservation to advise on improvements to their current storage methods, considering their environmental, time and budget restrictions.

Alongside the work I undertook for the Collections Care Project I developed a database of the taxidermy objects within the museum handling collections. Natural History is my specialism so being able to offer my skills to the museum in this way was a great way to use the knowledge I have gained. The team at the museum were brilliant at supporting me prior to starting and throughout the placement, allowing me to develop my professional conservation skills within a museum environment.”

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