Managing Our Collections


Collections Management supports the Museum with core procedures, policies and guidance that ensure we keep our collections both safe and accessible.

Here we take you behind the scenes in DCM (Documentation and Collections Management) and Resource Planning to give you a taster of the work we do to manage our collections effectively, issues that may affect access to our collections, and some highlights of our cataloguing and digitisation programme.

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Guard Books – It`s The People That Matter.

A Museum without Staff and Visitors is simply a large building with (mostly) nice objects, with no-one looking after them, or studiously appraising them. It might be a little like this… you would expect, even very early in the morning, somebody, anybody, to be walking the pavements, travelling in very expensive motor vehicles, as seen here in […]

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The Guard Book Project – A Sculpture in the Making

Statue - Mankind, by Arthur Eric Rowton Gill (1882 - 1940), Hopton Wood Stone, 1927 - 28.

In our sculpture gallery is an item, Loaned to us by The Tate Gallery, (LOAN:TATE.161-2006) Mankind; Carved Hopton Wood Stone; by Eric Gill (1882 – 1940). Here on display. …but here in the Guard Book as it was being carved, in his studio in 1927, with the small reference model next to it. With the […]

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The Guard Book Project – Snapshot of More Reflections

Mirror in a carved wood frame, English; 1730, from Cumberland House.

This is the first of some small snapshots of items of interest that the Guard Books of black & white negatives are finding.. Remember these…. in a previous blog I mentioned the reflections both intentional & unintentional… Early photographs of mirrors in the 1850s,   Mirror with carved & gilt frame, Venetian; by Charles Thurston […]

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The Guard Book Project – A Reflection

Mirror with carved & gilt frame, Venetian; by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816 - 68), Albumen Print; from the album, Furniture Exhibited at Gore House, Vol.2 by John Webb, 1853.

Seeing Other Things in an Object. The V&A recently had an exhibition in the Photography Gallery – The Camera Exposed, where every photograph had an image of least one camera, either as deliberate portraits, snapshots, collages, shadows & reflections. Probably the most famous in the Guard Books are early photographs of Mirror Frames by Charles Thurston Thompson, […]

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The Guard Book Project – A Glimpse Into the Past

Central View of The Octagon Court ; with room sets displays;

The Museum as it Was, 1929 – 1950. Take a look at this interior from 1936, and where do you think it is?.. …no, it`s not the main entrance, this is Gallery 40, without the Mezzanine floor, and not a costume in site. It was known at the time as The Octagon Court, Furniture Displays Gallery, each […]

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The Guard Book Project – A Resource for Research

Portrait miniatures submitted for appraisal in 1939.

Well… I never knew that….. This digitisation project is providing a unique opportunity for various areas of research about the museums collections, the history of the building, exhibitions, activities, and items that were here for a short period of time for displays, or appraisals, and those that left the building never to be seen again, with examples in this blog, of […]

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The Guard Book Project – Photographic Styles and Techniques : A Snapshot of Change

10 Iinch by 8 inch plate camera by Bukre & James

Photographic Style & Techniques : A Snapshot of Change 1930 – 49 The current sequence of this digitisation project involves the pages of the Guard Books 1930 – 1949, and it has enabled us to look some of the differences, or indeed, the similarities of the process of photographing an object, during this period as compared […]

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The Guard Book Project

Portrait of a female by Raphael, pencil drawing, said to be the model for his Madonnas

This project is the digitisation of The Guard Book Archive of Black & White Photographs taken by the Museum between 1856 – 1997. First of all what is a Guard Book?, other terms could be, an Album, Store Book, Scrapbook, Folder, Guard Box, the list could go on, but one word is important, the word Guard, to […]

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Culture Change and Resource Planning

  Show stopping blockbusters and plush refurbished galleries give the visitor to the V&A the impression of the swan gliding on the lake. Ever wandered what you don’t see? You might have heard the expression ‘back of house’ and maybe thought about Conservators, Technicians, Photographers and Cataloguers beavering away behind those pesky doors with the […]

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From School to Sailors: Childrenswear from the Museum of Childhood on Europeana Fashion tumblr

As the summer nights draw in and children return to school, my mind drifts off to childhood memories of days by the sea, and reluctantly getting dressed in an ill-fitting uniform at the start of another school year… oh to have that time back…. Photograph, tinted and mounted on card, of a girl in a […]

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