Trainee show and tell

2012-2013 HLF Trainees at Etherow Country Park. L-R: Emma Harrold, Juliette Griffiths, Emma Hadley, Katie Paton, Emma Key, Greg Booth. Rosie Brady should be here although she now has a job with English Heritage, which is brilliant!

2012-2013 HLF Trainees at Etherow Country Park. L-R: Emma Harrold, Juliette Griffiths, Emma Hadley, Katie Paton, Emma Key, Greg Booth. Rosie Brady should be here although she now has a job with English Heritage, which is brilliant!

Since January all of the trainees and I have wanted to meet up and experience half a day in each of the Skills for the Future jobs.  First we met Emma and Katie at the Local Heritage Library to find out about researching family history and local archive records, and using the archive and library stack. Then everyone came to the heritage stores and I showed them Modes, searching for objects, retrieving and wrapping objects, object marking and image reference numbers.  We then met Emma and Greg for a walk around Etherow Country Park to see the area maintained and patrolled by the Countryside rangers, and the issues which can arise (such as changing water levels, repairing walkways, animal rescue!) and yesterday our visits culminated in a walk around Stockport with Juliette to see conservation areas and parts of Stockport which have been improved due to the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI). We learnt about planning permission, appraisals, and inappropriate tarmac on conservation area cobblestones (!). Some of the new intake of HLF trainees joined us on this trip, so it was nice to meet the newbies and for us all to offer them any pearls of wisdom for their upcoming year.  Here are a few images from our visits – click the images to open a gallery slideshow.

Family History and archiving at the Local Heritage Library

Collections Management at the Cheadle Collection Stores

 

Countryside Management walk around Etherow Country Park

Conservation Management walk around Stockport – Hillgate, Crowther Street and Dodge Hill

 

Heritage Lottery Fund, sculpture conservation, and more new acquisitions

Sign on the side of the Plaza building

Sign on the side of the Plaza building

Heritage Lottery Fund
In February, all of the trainees met with Sally Smith, the grants officer based at the Manchester HLF office. This was to tell her what we have all been doing this year, how we have found the programme, and anything we would change.  Sally said it was lovely to see us in person and to hear about what we have all achieved this year, as she is behind the paperwork and

Dinner at the Plaza with Sally Smith from the HLF, the other trainees and our programme mentors

Dinner at the Plaza with Sally Smith from the HLF, the other trainees and our programme mentors

oversees the Skills for the Future programme for the area.  The success of the programme could possibly secure further funding opportinities, and can improve the programmes for the year 2013-2014.  We ended the discussion with a trip to the Plaza tearoom and then it was back to the stores to carry on with Vernon Park decant documentation! It was lovely to meet Sally and hear about her role within the HLF, and that there are opportunities for networking or experiences within other organisations across the North West who are also part of the Skills for the Future programme.

Sculpture Conservation
A Henry Weekes marble sculpture entitled ‘Play’, which is part of our collection and has previously been on display at Stockport Art Gallery and Woodbank Hall, was damaged in 2010. The damage to the sculpture resulted in the decapitation of the head, thus needing conservation work to restore it. Jane Foley of Foley Conservation was appointed to work on the sculpture.  The sculpture was cleaned using a steamer with distilled water, and preparing the surface with various percentages of paraloid solution.  The angle of the head meant that a hoist was needed when fixing the head into position, and for leaving it to set without the danger of it coming away from the main body of the statue again.  Here are some images from the process.

Jane Foley 1

Jane’s workspace with the sculpture in the background ready for conserving

     

Conservation tools and the head of the sculpture

Conservation tools and the head of the sculpture

Jane using paraloid mix on the sculpture

Jane using paraloid mix on the sculpture

Jane steam cleaning the sculpture with distilled water

Jane steam cleaning the sculpture with distilled water

The final conserved sculpture

The final conserved sculpture

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Neck detail

The final result is beautiful, and it was brilliant to be able to see the conservation process from beginning to end.

New Acquisitions

Metal case for Anti-Dim Solution

STOPM: 2013.28.1 – Metal case for Anti-Dim Solution

A few objects I have recently accessioned into the collection have been perfect for display in the new display case at the Air Raid Shelters and/or photographed for use on the interpretation panels. They are:
Small tube of Canda ‘Pen Brand’ Anti-Dim solution for gas masks complete with metal case
Gas Mask with Home Office ARP Certifiction Mark and canvas bag
ARP Incendiary Scoop, Pike and extension Pole
and a Red Cross ceramic feeding cup

Anti-Dim Solution

STOPM: 2013.28.2 – Anti-Dim Solution

Each object required an entry in the accession register, and a Modes record

complete with acquisition and donor details, detailed description, condition report and measurements. The objects were then marked with the appropriate tools, and the gas mask bag, as a textile, was frozen for precautionary purposes.  The items which were photographed for use on the interpretation panels were then found a home to be put straight into the collection. The items which are to be used in the display case (the feeding cup and the Anti-Dim solution) were put in a temporary location with the other objects awaiting display at the Shelters site.

Red Cross feeding cup used by a nurse in both WWI and WWII

STOPM: 2013.27 – Red Cross feeding cup. This was used by the donor’s Aunt; a nurse in both WWI and WWII.

STOPM: 2013.26.1 -  ARP Gas Mask made by Siebe Gorman & Co. Ltd (photographed by Terry Mullaney, Design & Interpretation Officer)

STOPM: 2013.26.1 – ARP Gas Mask (photographed by Terry Mullaney, Design & Interpretation Officer)

Close-up of the Home Office ARP Certifiction Mark on the gas mask

Close-up of the Home Office ARP Certifiction Mark on the gas mask

STOPM: 2013.24.1 - ARP Incendiary Scoop

STOPM: 2013.24.1 – ARP Incendiary Scoop

STOPM: 2013.24.2 - ARP Pike

STOPM: 2013.24.2 – ARP Pike

I am also currently accessioning a variety of American and British 1930s – 1970s hats which were kindly donated to us by a milliner and collector of hats. 

STOPM: 2013.32 - Swirled rosette hat made with pleated Petersham ribbon; by Edward Mann of London

STOPM: 2013.32 – Swirled rosette hat made with pleated Petersham ribbon; by Edward Mann of London

Researching hat labels found inside the hats is very interesting and has helped me to date the hats more specifically. Hats include a 1950s-60s swirled rosette hat made with pleated ribbon by Edward Mann of London; a 1950s ‘whimsy’ cocktail hat made by The United Hatters of North America; a hat box from the millinery section of the department store Sage-Allen & Co. of Connecticut, and a hat with a veil and feathers from the ‘Dover’ line of hats made by Henry Pollak of New York. 

The Pollak hat also features a New York Creation label which shows the consumer the hat is made by a member of the New York Dress Institute which dates the hat to the late 1940s – 50s. I was able to find some information about Pollak’s ‘Dover’ line, found here at Trade.mar.cx which is an online collection of worldwide trademarks. The application for the trademark of the ‘Dover’ line was  made to the United States Patent office in 1947 by Henry Pollak Inc., and so dates the hat from 1947 onwards to 1955 when the New York Creation label was last used.

STOPM: 2013.30.1 - Hat with veil and feather, part of the Dover line by Henry Pollak Inc. of New York

STOPM: 2013.30.1 – Hat with veil and feather, part of the Dover line by Henry Pollak Inc. of New York

Patent found for the 'Dover' line trademark, applied for in 1947 by Henry Pollak Inc. of Fifth Avenue, New York. From Trade.mar.cx

Patent found for the ‘Dover’ line trademark, applied for in 1947 by Henry Pollak Inc. of Fifth Avenue, New York. From Trade.mar.cx

  

Dover line stamp inside the Henry Pollak hat

Dover line stamp inside the Henry Pollak hat

There are many more hats from the same donation to accession, which are detailed on the Entry form from when Katie took the donation in.  I am excited to see what I find every time I open a box and am looking forward to accessioning the two dresses which were also donated with the hats.  They date from the 1920s and the 1940s. Hopefully I will manage to accession them before I finish my year, which is approaching far far far too quickly 😦

New York Creation label inside the Henry Pollak hat

New York Creation label inside the Henry Pollak hat

Emptying Vernon Park Museum and other stories

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Natural History case before empyting

After Christmas, one of our priorities was to organise the decant of all objects from Vernon Park Museum before April.  The objects were displayed in the basement of the museum, in various themed cases; ethnography, retail, male costume, female costume, education, archaeology, natural history, sound, photography, contemporary collecting, and WWII.  Vernon Park will now become wholly run by Pure Innovations Ltd., who currently run a cafe in the building.  It is a shame about the museum being taken out of the equation as it is a significant building for Stockport’s museum history, and it held such an eclectic mix of objects which many people choose to visit and have voiced their sadness about.  Hopefully many of the objects will be redisplayed elsewhere, including after the redevelopment of Stockport Story museum which is starting soon after the completion of the Air Raid Shelters project.

Overall we removed over 2800 objects, and are still in the process of documenting the movements for each object and integrating them back into the collections storage.  Some of the items have needed precautionary freezing before this can happen – especially the natural history taxidermy.  Here are a few photographs from the move.  
 

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Photography case before empyting

IMAG4072

Skelebob coming back to the store

The move required multiple trips over the course of 3 months, many sheets of acid-free tissue paper for wrapping and packing, 56 boxes, and many individually wrapped large or bulky items. Some of the 56 boxes held under ten objects, some of them held hundreds. We had a list of the objects in each case and location, made corresponding labels for wrapping and checked each item off as they were wrapped and packed. Objects were also photographed as and when needed for the Modes database, as some of the objects on display had only brief records without an image on Modes.   We numbered the boxes which we then updated in the Temporary Location field of Modes, so we could keep track of what had been boxed together and what had been put back once we were back at the stores.   The wooden shelving units inside the display cases were also dismantled, and will be reused by Andy for various techincal projects (a good example of reusing what you can from exhibitions or permanent displays!).  We also removed all of the drawers in the foyer which contained geology and natural history specimens, as well as the model skeleton much to the dismay of the cafe staff! I think they had become quite attached to him.

Architectural Salvage Store 4

Large sign inside the Architectural Salvage Store

Some of the larger objects such as shop signage which were fixed to the walls in Vernon Park are now stored in the architectural salvage store.  This is a secure storage unit which holds various large objects including shop doors, signage, outside lamps etc.  I hadn’t been inside the salvage store yet this year, so it was interesting to see all of the goodies inside!

Architectural Salvage Store 3

A door in the Architectural Salvage Store

Once back at the collections store, we initially tried to keep up with putting the objects back into the collection but the boxes soon built up. As mentioned earlier, some of the records on Modes were rather brief so needed retrospectively upating with more detailed description and images.  Many of the objects also needed properly marking to accreditation standard; they were previously labeled with a tag but not securely marked. So I did lots of sewing, marking with paraloid or writing with 2B pencil on the objects.  This was required  before the items could go into their new permanent location. Some of the objects also showed evidence of pests, such as Carpet Beetle caracsses or their frass (bug poop!) – and so required brushing and freezing before they could be put with the rest of the collection.

Infestation of carpet beetles on Spoonbill taxidermy

Infestation of carpet beetles on Spoonbill taxidermy

Some of the objects from Vernon Park were earmarked for use in the redevelopment of the Air Raid Shelters, for a new display of collection items in the reception and shop area. A new larger display case (which will also be better suited to protecting the objects from the harsh environmental conditions) has enabled us to choose a variety of objects, some which have not been on display before.  

Objects for new case at the Air Raid Shelters

Objects for new case at the Air Raid Shelters

A trip to the IWM North in Trafford Quays meant we could see the way in which they display their variety of objects; the stands and plinths they have used for objects of varying size were excellent and were a good inspiration for presenting our lovely objects.

Angela and Janny at IWMN

Angela and Janny at IWMN

Display of pins and badges at IWMN

Display of pins and badges at IWMN

Display of Home Front objects at IWMN

Display of Home Front objects at IWMN

Our objects are currently spread out on a table in the stores (as in the earlier image), and have been re-jigged to see what looks best in what order.  The most important issue is to give the objects height in the case and so we hope to have specific perspex stands for certain objects.   The Air Raid Shelters site has been closed for a few weeks whilst the refurbishment of the reception and the installation of the new interpretation panels has been completed. There has been new flooring, improved electrics for the lighting and the shop has been refurbished.  New interpretation panels have been installed by Andy and Katie, the new techincal trainee.  Today the Air Raid Shelters are open again to the public, but there will be an official launch of the site later in June.

Utility Clothing and Make Do & Mend interpretation panels. These were put together by Bronwen Simpson and Jo Dunn, and fixed to the Air Raid Shelter walls by Andy Pedroza and Katie Senior (photographed by Andy Pedroza)

Utility Clothing and Make Do & Mend interpretation panels. These were put together by Bronwen Simpson and Jo Dunn, and fixed to the Air Raid Shelter walls by Andy Pedroza and Katie Senior (photographed by Andy Pedroza)

Dig for Victory interpretation panel. This was put together by Bronwen Simpson and Jo Dunn, and fixed to the Air Raid Shelter walls by Andy Pedroza and Katie Senior (photographed by Andy Pedroza)

Dig for Victory interpretation panel. This was put together by Bronwen Simpson and Jo Dunn, and fixed to the Air Raid Shelter walls by Andy Pedroza and Katie Senior (photographed by Andy Pedroza)

Rationing interpretation panel. This was put together by Bronwen Simpson and Jo Dunn, and fixed to the Air Raid Shelter walls by Andy Pedroza and Katie Senior (photographed by Andy Pedroza)

Rationing interpretation panel. This was put together by Bronwen Simpson and Jo Dunn, and fixed to the Air Raid Shelter walls by Andy Pedroza and Katie Senior (photographed by Andy Pedroza)

Overall the move of objects from Vernon Park has been a great experience, albeit a challenging one! Moving so many objects to a deadline and sorting the documentation and integration at the other end has been a long process and is still going on.  With the Air Raid Shelters redevelopment happening simultaneously, as well as other day-to-day jobs, personal organisation (I love lists) and pulling together as a team has been crucial!