Sunday, 12 August 2012

The British Museum

British Museum: Photo by Jenny Collins

Chances are if you've taken any kind of ancient history class, or had a section on it in your high school class, you've seen at least 10 items currently housed in the British Museum. Maybe more, probably more, I'm not sure that I managed to see everything that was in the museum. Our visit was to the Central Archives with archivist Stephanie Clark. The Central Archives is responsible for storing items pertaining to the history of the Museum itself. That includes but is not limited to the following:

Staff applications and evaluations
Donations and Gifts
Artifact Acquisition 
Exhibition Planning History
Building Plans

What kind of more you might ask? Well one of the items held in the Central Archive is the bomb that fell on the museum during World War II. There are other items as well, sketches done by janitorial staff,  records that allow artifacts to be traced (mostly to make sure they came from legitimate sources). 

British Museum entrance to the central archive: Photo by Jenny Collins

Stephanie has a lot of responsibility, she is the only archivist working in the Central Archive and had her work cut out for her in terms of organizing the space to make sure researchers can quickly find items when they need them. The history of a building and an institution might not seem like the most important thing to preserve but Stephanie did an excellent job of making it apparent that the history of the British Museum itself is equally important as the items inside of it.

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