I had hoped to keep up on writing in this blog after I started my new position, but as we all know life and work gets in the way. My new position has required a lot more responsibilities than what had been detailed in the job description and interview. However, I was able to use that to my advantage. At the evaluation of my introductory period, I asked for a title change and pay raise. My new title is Curator of Collections now. While the new wage is nowhere near what it should be for the type of position and expected responsibilities, it is a step in the right direction. I am hoping this coming summer there will be another raise after my one year evaluation.
As for an update on how things have been at work since I last wrote… A few major projects of note that I worked on include: coordinating a migration of our collection data and images to a new system, putting together two exhibits (our annual holiday exhibit and an exhibit on the origins of steam locomotives) and collaborating on another at a neighboring museum. Most of the leg work on our exhibits was done on my own with of course some support from coworkers in reviewing content and install/de install of the exhibits. However, the support was not to the extent that I had anticipated. Both exhibits were well received from what I have been told so far, but I know that they always can be improved on. The experience was humbling, and there are a few issues I am working to address as we plan our next exhibit that is set to open in early June.
The most important issue I am addressing is I am working to take on less exhibits responsibilities as I need to make managing the collection my primary focus. I believe that I would be further along in improving the management of the collection had this been my sole focus.
Despite juggling the responsibilities of what should be three positions, I have made a number of significant improvements in the collections room as I have turned my focus back on managing the collection. The first improvement involved purchasing proper housing materials for the collection in order to not only ensure their safety, but also maximize our limited storage. While our limited budget prevents me from purchasing the exact materials I would like, I was able to make due by purchasing archival quality stackable trays. One of these days I’ll try my hand at making boxes for some of our larger artifacts.
The new housing materials are also labeled with the accession numbers of the objects inside to limit any unnecessary movement of objects and increasing the ease of locating them as well. The second improvement involved digitizing and reorganizing all of our donation receipts and ownership documents. While doing this I made notes and copies of paperwork that documented objects previously noted as a Found in Collection item with no known donor. This process has really helped me to identify a number of objects, properly catalog and number them. Once this process has been completed and all objects have been identified, I will work on properly digitizing them. I have so many ideas for our collection. I’ll save my next blog post to talk about one in particular.