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Recent work of the Conservation Team

Martin hard at work cleaning a medieval pendant

The Conservation team has been getting out and about a bit recently. Both Jill and Martin have been out assessing potential items for the collections – as far afield as London and Surrey – some have been accepted, others not.  Meanwhile I swanned off to Scotland for fun. However, I’ve also been working with Learning Team, resulting in a couple of talks to 8-year-old school children. It’s been interesting trying to explain what we do at a level they can understand – they did say their heads were a bit full….. Martin provided material for activity sheets, so that’s 3 groups hopefully thinking a bit more about how to look after things.

The Building Management System programmers have been in to discuss how we can get the best performance for the environmental controls now we’ve seen how it behaves in reality. I’ve learned an awful lot over the last couple of years, and in many ways will be sorry to hand the job of liaising with the Council Engineer over to our new technician when he starts, but there are other things I need to be doing.
Both Martin and I have been condition reporting items for the Robert Longden exhibition. The photographs (my job) are really evocative, and drew me in to look at them properly as images – usually it’s a quick glance in ‘over-view’, then switch to detailed inspection mode. These days when going round other exhibitions, I find I’m missing out on enjoying the objects because I can’t stop myself inspecting mounts, condition, etc!

Very detailed and delicate work!

Martin has been cleaning a medieval horse-harness pendant in preparation for one of the series of Collections Conversations in What’s in Store where he’ll be talking about conserving objects. Here he’s scraping off overlying corrosion plus the earth incorporated into the corrosion to get back to the original surface layer, using a microscope to see the fine detail. The x-ray image which Martin is using as a guide shows a lion feature; traces of gilding and enamelling have also survived the long burial. Using his private interest, Martin has also been choosing coins from our collections and recessing them into plastazote (inert foam) to fill more drawers in What’s in Store – these drawers are gradually being completed as we get material.


Talking, travelling, waterways and summer fun!

Family enjoying craft activities at the Herbert

 In my previous blog I mentioned the work the Herbert learning team have been doing to prepare for upcoming temporary exhibitions and the schools programmes we offer to go along with them. Well that is all still happening, but I thought I’d give you a catch up on how things have been going. 

1. The From Here to There exhibition is now approaching its final week of being on display and so far I’ve gone through 13 guided talks around the exhibition and have another 5 to go, which all means it’s been a very good success. This was the first time we have catered guided talks around an arts exhibition to Secondary schools, so it was new ground for us, but the school groups who have visited have all said how they felt the benefits of the insight into the art works and how useful it was to the pupils’ development and research work, so hopefully it is an area we can explore again in the future. I have personally thoroughly enjoyed leading on this project, as I have an arts background myself and I am a particular fan of Tracey Emin and Marc Quinn, 2 of the featured artists. 

2. Our travels around the country have continued in our quest to research how museums are delivering the subject of Ancient Egypt to school groups. Two of my colleagues recently visited the British Museum in London and I have just visited Bolton with another colleague to meet with one of their learning officers. It did require both of us being on the train at 6am and 3 changes along the way, but it was well worth it, as Bolton museum is one of the sites who are going to be lending the Herbert artefacts to contribute towards our Secret Egypt meeting so it was very interesting to see how they bought the topic to life with the use of handling collections, costume and different activities around the gallery. 

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Here to there


I’m Viv, a Contemporary Art Society Fellow working with the Herbert in developing their collections and programmes of contemporary art.

I was really keen to hear what you thought of the contemporary art show that is on at the present ‘From Here To There’? This show was curated by Rosie Addenbrooke at the Herbert from the vast collection of works held by the Arts Council. My particular favorite is the Gilbert & George work,  Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk (1972), which is a performance in which they slowly consume a bottle of Gordon’s Gin! Nice work if you can get it!

Be really good to hear what your thoughts are on The Herbert’s desire to increase contemporary art in the museum?

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From Egyptian Mummies to Tracey Emin

Working on the Herbert learning team means getting involved with a huge variety of projects, from running school sessions, to helping out our Families Learning Officer with activities and events, dressing up in costume for sessions like Molly the Maid or Keep Calm and Carry on, or working on the learning programmes for temporary exhibitions, there is always something fun and exciting to be involved with.

Lately on the learning team we have been travelling up and down the country doing research for the Secret Egypt exhibition that is coming up in 2011. This is going to be huge for the Herbert as an exhibition, but also for learning. We’ve already had teachers asking questions about it, so we’re expecting a big uptake with visits for the learning programme. Over the last couple of months we have been to Leicester, Sheffield, and Manchester to talk with other museums about what works and what doesn’t for Ancient Egyptian school sessions, and over the next few weeks we’ll be travelling to Birmingham, Bolton, London and Oxford to meet with some others. This is great for us as we’re getting a real insight into what is available from other museums and we’re meeting a lot of fellow museum educators. Over the next few months the learning team will be putting the Secret Egypt school’s programme together so keep looking out for updates of how that’s going! Read the rest of this entry

From Here to There…

As an exhibition officer my busiest times come when we are changing exhibitions. During a two or three week period we spend our whole day in one of the temporary galleries installing a new show. At the moment we’re taking down Fashion V Sport and installing From Here to There. This part of the job can be the most rewarding but also the most stressful. It is also extremely varied – over the last two weeks I’ve conditioned checked over 50 pairs of trainers, undressed numerous mannequins and packed a Paul Smith snowboard.

We begin installing From Here to There next week which really exciting as it’s the first time we’ve had an Arts Council collection exhibition in our new temporary galleries. The exhibition contains some of the best British based contemporary artists and explores themes of journeys, transitions and transformations. For example, Simon Patterson reinvents the London Underground map, renaming the tube stops so they become stars in a constellation. Richard Long and Hamish Fulton record their experiences of walks lasting hours, days and weeks through sculpture, photography and text.  Anya Gallaccio uses materials which are allowed to change over time – dozens of fresh cut gerbera flowers trapped behind glass will ooze and decay during the course of the exhibition.  Zarina Bhimji and Mona Hatoum explore issues about being exiled from their home countries as a result of political conflict.  Gilbert & George consume glass after glass of Gordon’s gin and get very, very drunk.

The exhibition has been curated by our senior exhibitions and events officer, Rosie Addenbrooke, so I’m eager to see how the artworks hang together in the gallery and decide which my favourite is. Anyway, I’ve got to go finish packing some crates so we can get From Here to There finished in time!

Dominic Bubb, Exhibitions and Events Officer

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