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An Impressive Build


29 April 2014

Back in 2012, Black Country Living Museum received Designation status from the Arts Council England for the quality and significance of its collections. Following on from this, the Museum managed to secure funding from the Designation Development Fund for the implementation of a new collections management system, which included the temporary recruitment of two Documentation Assistants, Suzannah Brown & Bethany Phelps.

The time has passed very quickly and we are sad to see the Documentation 


Assistants are moving on to pasture new. To celebrate their achievements, Bethany Phelps wanted to leave the Museum with one last development. She spent 14 hours at home building her very own Newcomen Engine, although this impressive building wasn’t made out of bricks, it was a delicious treat for Museum staff, made of sponge, homemade jam, icing and chocolate sticks! Needless to say it didn’t last as long as it took to make, but thankfully we photographed it, as it was such a shame to eat the impressive structure!

So the least we can do is take a look back at the outstanding achievements they have both accomplished.

The aim of the documenting project was to improve access to the Museum’s collections for members of the public. We specifically hope to encourage people to /media/news/library/140428_230_1997-028-2892.jpgsearch for Black Country information & photographs for research and learning purposes, or simply for individual interest. Bethany and Suzannah have worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to document the kindly donated Black Country Society photograph collection, the extensive collection of 4000 local images, a total of 3,963 new Museum records have now been completed.

Bethany said “To briefly explain the process, we take each individual photograph /media/news/library/140428_230_room_one_mar_2013_resized.jpgand identify it by matching it to the database record, ensuring the correct unique object number is marked on the reverse. We record the physical characteristics of the photograph, such as the colour and dimensions, and include a detailed description of the scene in the image. Next we complete a brief condition report on each photograph in line with the Museum’s Collections Care policy; this enables us to monitor the collection effectively and ensure its longevity. During the cataloguing process, we try to identify photographers, locations, dates, and any information related to the history and provenance of the subject. The final step is to digitise each photograph by scanning the front and reverse.”

So a huge thank you to the Designation Development Fund which enabled the Museum to carry out this project and a big well done to Bethany and Suzannah, as the collection is now much more accessible, and will soon be used as pilot data for putting the Museum’s collections information online.

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