Kingston Lacy: Collected Treasure of the World in One Heritage House (Ali Al Kathiri, ITP 2018, Oman)

Hello! I am Ali Al Kathiri (Director of the Museum of the Frankincense Land, Oman) writing my second blog of the ITP 2018. On Wednesday, we were split into two groups for whole day visits. One group went with Constantine Ltd Fine Art Logistics, to see their airline handling warehouses, storage facilities and packing warehouses, and talk about risk management in art handling for shipments of art and artefacts for museums and galleries. I was in the second group: we visited a National Trust property called Kingston Lacy. This place is a lavish family home inspired by an Italian palace and has property extensions like estates, farmlands, cottages, archaeological sites and a highly ornamented garden area. It was opened in 1981 for the public.

Cover photo

We started early in the morning as it was almost a three hour journey from London. Katrina Thomson (Consultancy Manager: South West Region, National Trust) welcomed us at the venue and took us to the area where we had our welcome breakfast/tea with the rest of the staff members. After that, Tim Turner (General Manager, Kingston Lacy) gave us a presentation about their vision of Kingston Lacy in the coming decade and how they wish to expand it to be a more global experience. They are anticipating higher a number of visitors in the coming years and are in a process of tackling the growing numbers. Afterwards, Katrina Thomson gave us a presentation about the curatorship experience in the National Trust context, how this property is special and how it attracts its audiences. After these brief introduction sessions, fellows were split into groups that were focusing on: Conserving and caring for collections in their historic context; Curating and programming – opportunities and challenges; and Collections and people in the outdoors.

Picture 1 - First session on Archaeology by Nancy & Maddie

First session on Archaeology by Nancy and Maddie

The first session that I attended with my group was based on the outdoors, the gardens and the archaeological connection of the site as a whole. Nancy Grace (Archaeologist) and Maddie Rock (Senior Visitor Experience Officer) did the first tour explaining about the excavations and various sites that extend around the house. They described how the obelisk is under threat by the weather like other outdoor garden sculptures. They are trying to make it a family-friendly place so they are not putting barriers between the objects and people in this open-air display garden area.

Picture 2 - Interpretation Session inside the House by Kate and Miranda

Interpretation session inside the house with Kate and Miranda

After this session, we had a lunch break and interacted with staff. The second session that I attended focused on Curating and Programming, and was given by Kate Bethune (Curator for Dorset) and Miranda Terry (Collections officer). They took us around the house showing us the various rooms, interesting display highlights and the temporary exhibitions space, which has a current display focused on women and their contributions in this house – Beyond the Portrait: revealing the woman within.

Picture 3 - Special exhibition extension space

Special exhibition space

In the Egyptian collection gallery we also observed an audio-visual interactive screen that was unique with all sorts of textual display all around the place. After tours we had tea break with all the Kingston Lacy team members. We discussed our observations and what we liked about this site and responded to some queries asked from the management side.The house and site has been maintained in more-or-less in its original context without much interference to its structure. In future they wish to add facilities for specially-abled people and maybe audio guides that can enhance the visitor experience. They also which to change some of the lighting methods for better visibility of paintings.

Picture 4- Interactive Display at Egyptian Gallery

Interactive display in the Egyptian gallery

It really was a great opportunity and a nice location worth a visit. Thank you, Kingston Lacy!