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Staff development in conservation issues

Ruth Fletcher
Training and Development Advisor

Readers of the Conservation Journal will know that the V&A Conservation Department sets and maintains very high standards of performance. However, you may be less aware of the extent of work carried out in the Department to further the skills and experience of a whole range of museum staff. This contributes to the targets set for the V&A by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). The targets are summarised below:

  • Access - improving the visitor experience
  • Learning - expanding opportunities for both visitors and staff
  • Excellence - improving our practices and promoting excellence
  • Social inclusion - engagement with under-served audiences and the Regions
  • Efficiency and effectiveness - development of IT and effective systems
  • Care of the collections

The key staff groupings that receive training from the Conservation Department include Curatorial, Front of House and Maintenance and Cleaning – essentially, all staff who work with and around the collections. By ensuring that these groups have a basic understanding of the risks posed by environment or mis-handling, the Department’s training activities:

  • increase the ability of staff to alert the experts to problems quickly and efficiently, avoiding damage to the collections
  • ensure that they follow best practice in care and cleaning
  • enable them to more fully inform visitors about works being carried out or why access may be restricted.

These outcomes contribute to Access, Excellence, Efficiency and Effectiveness, and Care of the Collections.

Conservation Contribution to Current Training

Conservation contribution to training

Conservation contribution to training (click image for larger version)

Unless otherwise indicated, full details of events can be found via the V&A ’s Training Schedule. Conservation contributors are listed, but many events are co-presented with colleagues from other departments within the Collections Services Division.

Future Plans

The Training Team is constantly reviewing and developing the provision of learning opportunities for museum staff. The following programmes are under development and will involve input from the Conservation Department.

  • Understanding Objects and Materials. This will offer a series of material specific modules covering aspects of Materials Science and Technology which will ensure a more advanced level of care and understanding of a wide range of material types.
  • Front of House Development Basic conservation awareness will be an important element in this programme, enabling Front of House staff to recognise potential risks to collections.

In Conclusion

The Training Team can only achieve its goals with the support of departments like Conservation. In so doing it allows us to promote Continual Professional Development and continue to maintain the standards required by the Investor In People Award.