Thursday, 20 March 2014

Doing their bit - part 3

This week we have a guest post written by Marleen, Curatorial Assistant at the DLI Museum:

Preserving the Durhams:
Volunteering at the DLI Museum

Wrapping guns, mounting uniforms and cleaning medals: these are all day-to-day tasks for the volunteers at the DLI Museum.  A year ago we started a volunteer project which is still running successfully today. At the moment we have over thirty volunteers working with our collections.

Cataloguing uniforms at the DLI Museum
Cataloguing uniforms
Some of our volunteers come to us for work experience, others because they want to find something interesting to do after retirement. Most of them are involved in an inventory of the entire collection. This means that they catalogue all the objects, including measurements and condition checking. After an object is fully catalogued, it is then labelled, photographed and repacked.

Another important aspect of our volunteer programme is metal cleaning. We have a very large medal collection and many other metal and silver items, which all tarnish over time. Some of our volunteers are trained by a metal conservator to clean these objects to a museum standard. Not only does this look better on display, it also helps in preserving them.

Metal cleaning at the DLI Museum
Metal cleaning
At the end of the collections’ inventory we will know exactly what objects we have, the state they are in and where they are. Of course this has been done in the past, but over the years people have used different systems and formats. The inventory is bringing all of these systems together, so it will be much easier to use the collection for research and exhibitions in the future.

So far we have audited over 3,500 objects, something which would have never been possible without our volunteers.

Mounting a tunic on a mannequin to be photographed at the DLI Museum
Mounting a tunic on a mannequin to be photographed

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