This was the subject up for discussion at a day cluster meeting….more specifically on Collections.
A bit of background: EGOR (Environmental Guidelines: Opportunities and Risks) is one of 13 research clusters within the Science and Heritage programme here in the UK. In understandable terms? The aim of the project is to discuss what the current standards/guidelines for environmental conditions of collections are within the heritage industry and to see where we need to go. This meant that there were some of the top people in the field from both the UK, as well as from the Canadian Conservation Institute and the Library of Congress (US) there at the workshop…Why I was invited? Hmm…good question…probably because I am doing a PhD funded by the Science and Heritage Programme, and my supervisors are the principal investigator and one of the co-investigators? Anyways…I was asked to attend and maybe help out, I accepted, so off I went today (my job was also to jot down what was being said, though for now I have been told not to write the notes down, because they don’t know if they want it :))
So this morning saw me going off to Tate Britain, where the meeting was being held. I had never been there before, so I arrived a bit early to take some time out to check out a part of it…I arrived at 10 (the place opens at 10), and spent some time going round the Colour and Line – Turner’s Experiments Exhibit before the meeting started at 10:30. Really liked the set-up of this exhibit, with the way it explained things visually, and also the hands-on aspects of it (though I didn’t have time to do much). Would definitely recommend it to others.
10:30…time for the meeting to start…We grab a coffee/juice/biscuits and in we go!
The way the meeting was divided, there was first and introduction, followed by 3 short presentations, after each of which we were divided into 3 groups,w ere we discussed the issues raised in terms of knowledge research gaps and the current standards governing heritage collections. The three presentations were quite different, addressing different aspects. However, for me the discussions that followed were always much more enlightening…the people there were the people who are actually writing standards and guidelines, and people who actually have the influence to do something! That is enough to give me ideas to think about. This is besides the people I get to know and the contacts I make when I meet these people! This right now is very important…knowing what others are doing and getting to know the people.
What do I think about the meeting however? Well…I think it was a good one (not that I have much experience of this kind of thing…I am still a newbie, as one guy put it). I liked the way the short presentations were used to spark off discussions, rather than as the main focus of the discussion. This helped people to put forward their ideas on the topic as ideas in their own right, rather than criticisms or support of the presentation. Also, undoubtedly, having the people who were there present certainly provided some weight to what was being said and of course gave rise to discussions which can lead to somewhere (or so I hope). However, I could also realise that some people have become insular in their way of thinking, to a point where they cannot see the whole issue from outside. I tried to bring forward my quite outsider-view sometimes, but not always did that. Nevertheless, I hope that something will come out from this meeting…I am sure it will!