I’ve been really enjoying working with Bridport Museum as a collections consultant, supporting the small staff team and volunteers, first with their HLF funded museum redisplay and then on various other projects.
Last month I played a very small part in helping them plan and deliver an ambitious exhibition of costumes and textiles. I wanted to mention it as it is a great example of the sort of activity that can be delivered by being clever with money, calling in favours, and making the most of all the skills and goodwill of partners and volunteers.
The exhibition was hosted in Bridport Arts Centre, the first time the two organisations had collaborated, (but I suspect not the last). This gave the Arts Centre a very different exhibition and the museum access to a large display space.
The bulk of the curatorial work was carried out by volunteers who have been working with the collection for many years, so know it very well. This included key decisions such as what to display.
There was a long list of others who made it happen, contributing in ways large and small (and I’ve probably missed someone out):
- Local businesses (materials)
- Trustees (storage, logistics and carpentry skills)
- Bridport Town Council (lifting and shifting)
- Other Museums (mannequin loans, notably Dorchester and Chippenham)
- Family and friends of staff and volunteers (making padded hangers and helping install and deinstall)
It was a real team effort and a great success. An accompanying gallery talk sold out so quickly it had to be rebooked and repeated.
Alongside all this, the museum took the bold decision to not just put on a traditional costume display, but to try and tell some of the behind the scenes stories of what goes into curating a collection like this, including collections care and decisions as to what to acquire (Although it became ‘Bridport Undressed’, we did have ‘Airing our dirty laundry in public’ as a working title at one point!)
For those of you who work in or with museums with limited resources you will recognise this way of working I’m sure.
I just wanted to take the opportunity to say well done to the whole team. A job well done.