This month’s blog will focus on a selection of objects from our collections and how we are starting to collate and catalogue data.
Collections management system
Since the end of last year we have been working on developing and updating our policies and procedures in order that The Wee Museum of Memory can apply for accredited museum status. One of the most crucial areas that needed work was the collections management system (SMS). The photos that have been donated have been entered into an online searchable archive for a number of years. However, although the majority of our objects donated by members of the public often have some personal or family information, we have not previously used any formal collections management system for our physical objects and materials.
We lacked the courage to attempt anything for the huge amount of social history objects and ephemera that comprise our displays – the task was way too daunting! However, we are very fortunate to be able to employ two new members of staff – Louise and Naomi – to update our administrative systems, research the objects and start inputting data into an online archive that will be searchable once it has gone live. The data input is being done by Louise and Naomi supported by a small team, some of whom are working remotely.
Forms, forms, forms…
The data that is entered onto the eHive catalogue includes descriptions, dates, object types, and images, as well as using the Social History and Industrial Classification (SHIC) system which means objects will be indexed under: Community life, Domestic and family life, Personal and Working life.
Upgraded donation forms have been introduced and we have a safety procedure for new objects which are quarantined before they are processed. This is to minimise the potential spread of moths, bookworm or foxing or any other form of infestation. Louise is improving our storage system as well … the opening and dressing of The Wee Hub downstairs has enabled us to free up storage space in the Wee Museum.
QRs and virtual tours …
One of the reasons that the collections needed to be managed more effectively is so that the objects, their history, and any associated personal history (sometimes as a recorded reminiscence) can be accessed by visitors more easily – including those who may not be able to visit in person. Barry, our IT expert, has introduced QR codes for some of the collection as well as creating our first virtual tour. Using the wonders of modern technology, visitors can be guided by his dulcet tones, interspersed with recordings of stories and memories from past visitors and regulars.
Focus on…tea and coffee
We have so many interesting and varied objects which may be quite ordinary but are sometimes unique; bring their own personal stories or might connect with the lives of many visitors. The personal, as well as the social, history available using our CMS might be a potential research resource for particular objects or themes, particularly once the collection is available on-line.
Let’s look at some objects more closely. Here are some of our mid 20th-century tea and coffee utensils…
Making its first appearance in the 19th century, the ‘alarm that makes tea’ reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s and many were produced under the Goblin trademark. The example we have is typical of the time and style and may be very familiar to visitors.
This 1950s’ insulated teapot, made of ceramic with a chrome cover, was part of a wedding gift given to the donors. It came with an insulated water jug. It was donated to us by the couple who wanted it to be displayed so that other people could see it and share its memory.
This example of a small aluminium teapot with clear handle and Bakelite button on the lid, is evocative of many a family’s memories. Was the tea made with tea leaves, and how strong did your granny make it? This teapot was made in Stratford upon Avon; the products were known as Sona ware and were made by N C Joseph during the 20th century. With a small spout and a raised decorative trim round the middle, and stained with tea inside, this is nice example of a well-used teapot.
The Russell Hobbs coffee percolator from the 1970s conjures up memories of the plop plop gurgling sound, as it sat in the corner brewing fresh hot coffee to be served in the special small coffee cups which would be produced from the back of the cupboard at Christmas and New Year – or at least that’s my personal memory. Made of stainless steel, with a wooden handle and button on the lid, this style of coffee maker is still in vogue today but for many visitors – and staff – it reminds them of their own childhoods.
Picquot ware was made from a magnesium-aluminium alloy, called ‘Magnaillium’ in Nottingham between 1947 and 1980. The handle was made of sycamore wood and the tea and coffee pots were cast in one piece. Although this is listed as a coffee pot it might also have been used as a hot water pot along with a teapot. Perhaps you remember this type of coffee pot or maybe you got some Picquot ware as a wedding present?