Auditing The Hunterian Collections

Published on: Author: Harriet Gaston Leave a comment

A student post by Catherine Alameddin, Museum Studies (MSc) programme, University of Glasgow.

My name is Catherine, and this summer I completed a project with The Hunterian, as part of my Masters programme in Museum Studies at the University of Glasgow, which culminated in a dissertation level report of my process and findings. 

Bust of Walter MacLellan
Bust of Walter MacLellan (1815-1889) by James Ewing, 1882, currently in the Round Reading Room on the University of Glasgow campus.

The procedure included a guide explaining how to carry out an audit, a form to fill out while carrying out the audit, and forms recording the physical condition of the objects. To create these forms, I interviewed museum professionals in Scotland, worked with staff at The Hunterian, including my supervisor Malcolm Chapman who is Head of Collections Management, and ran a test run of the final product. This project was intriguing for me because I have an interest in conservation, and this project allowed me to learn more about this part of a museum. I really enjoyed the chance to get out of the library, away from the books, and do the physical audits for the test run.    

This project was very important to the museum, and it will serve the museum well into the future to have regular audits of these objects. In my research, I interviewed other museum staff, and they all agreed that the audit of collections, even those nearby on campus, is vital to a functioning and healthy museum. In the future, this procedure will do everything from basic checks that the objects’ files on the collections management system match the reality in the buildings, to a more in-depth visual check of the condition of the objects.

This project, the behind-the-scenes work of museum policies, is vital to properly caring for the collections, and making it possible for people to see and enjoy the objects. It might not have sounded exciting, but its benefit to the museum will last. It makes me very proud to know that I was able to help the museum with a project that will continue for years to come.    

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