Alan Wheeler tells us about the winter project of auditing of Photographic collection at Beccles and District Museum:
“Space and Storage – A Common Museum Problem”
“Is there any museum that has enough space for all its Collection? Beccles Museum, which is located in a Grade I listed building, with small rooms and weight restrictions on each of its floors, has a particular problem. While previous initiatives have helped, continuing donations of items create the difficult task of finding ever more space and better solutions for storing items. A few years ago we raised our display cabinets by 18 inches and created new storage space below them, but this was quickly used up. So this year we have reviewed how we store our photographic and document collections and decided that our storage boxes do not make optimum use of the shelving space allocated to them, we also have the problem that several boxes had been over-filled.”
“We therefore decided as a winter 2023/24 project to audit the Photographic collection, ensure that our records for the items are up to date, and repack the items in acid free sleeves and better sized boxes. It was also a good time to clear any backlog of items that needed recording. In order to do this we, with help of £150 from an AfSM grant, purchased £350 worth of new storage boxes from the Diss company PEL. Work started as soon as the museum closed at the end of the 2023 season and progress has already been made by the clearing of the backlog of unrecorded items. Work has now started on relocating a large collection of photographs, received when the Clowes Print Museum closed in 2009. These had been stored as a temporary solution in a suitcase under a table, and the temporary solution had evolved into a rather longer term one. The next stage is to sort through each of the old photographic storage boxes and repack items where necessary.”
“New volunteers have enjoyed getting involved with the activity and the work is easy to break down in to smaller more manageable tasks, so measurable progress can quickly be achieved. Everyone one seems to like looking at and discussing old photographs. In fact the problem is to keep focused on the task and to not get side-tracked to much. But who can resist reminiscing when photographs trigger so many memories? One story that came to light was the time that one of the Town Signs, it’s usually of John Baas receiving the town’s charter from Queen Elizabeth I in 1586, but for a short time, one was replaced by a plastic pig. The event made the local press back in the 1980s but had been forgotten by all but one of the volunteers. The story has now been recorded and is ready to be used in one of our Newsletters, and probably at some stage in a talk or exhibition.”
Find out more about visiting the museum on the Beccles and District Museum website.