The WCEC Activity Plan and Future Views (Andrea Terron, Senior Fellow 2018, Guatemala)

Written by Andrea Terron Gomez, Senior Fellow 2018 & ITP Fellow 2017, Professor, Department of Social Sciences and Anthropology at Del Valle Univeristy, Guatemala City 

On Thursday 5 July, the ITP fellows, Rebecca Horton (ITP Coordinator) and I attended one of the weekly BM Staff Talks, held in the BP Lecture Theatre at the British Museum. Stuart Frost (Head of Interpretation and Volunteers, Learning and National Partnerships) opened the talk by explaining the WCEC Activity Plan, funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Over the past 3 years, staff, volunteers and community partners have been engaged in different ‘Activity Plan’ projects; these projects were explained clearly and divided in three main outcomes.

WCEC blog image - 2017 photo

Picture taken during my visit to the WCEC last year, during ITP summer programme 2017

The first project was making the British Museum’s World Conservation and Exhibition Centre (WCEC) more accessible. Tours of the conservation labs have been opened up to the public and conservation videos, which are available online, have been commissioned. The videos explain certain conservation procedures and research of pieces in the collection. Please click here for an example of the videos presented to us during the Staff Talk.

Shelley Seston (Senior Collections Manager: Care and Access) introduced the second project, the British Museum Collections Skills Programme: sessions that are free and open to all colleagues working or volunteering within the museum and heritage sector. Some of these sessions are posted online and they include how to handle objects, checking for pests, archive training and the use of gloves, among other subjects. Click here for a link to one of the videos.

The third project was explained by Kayte McSweeney (Community Partnerships Manager: P&C) and is entitled Object Journeys. Through this project the British Museum collaborated with community partners to research and explore ethnographic collections. They worked directly with staff planning a gallery proposal and interactives in response to objects. I feel that Object Journeys is a great opportunity for community partners to work intimately with the collection and for the Museum to draw on the experiences and knowledge of individuals within different communities.

WCEC blog image - object journeys

Object Journeys Display in Room 24: Living and Dying at the British Museum

Personally, I think all of these projects demonstrate great ways in which the inner workings and collections of museums can connect with the outside world. I am very curious about the relationships between communities and objects inside the museum. Through Object Journeys, the Somali and Kiribati communities worked with pieces from the collection, and it is wonderful to watch the result of this collaboration in Room 24 (Living and Dying: The Wellcome Trust Gallery). I believe that, for ethnographic collections, this is the future of projects, loans and accompanied work and should be encouraged in all museums over the world. This is the future: connectivity.