Friday, 11 April 2014

first steps in a museum career

Kirsty Bennell, MoDA's temporary cataloguer, tells us what she's been up to over the past few weeks:

Over the last few weeks we’ve been delighted to have Kirsty Bennell working with us at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) as a temporary cataloguer.  This was Kirsty's first paid job in a museum, and one which we are sure will lead on to greater things.  Her work at MoDA is nearly done, so we caught up with her before she leaves.

Q: Kirsty, you were at MoDA on a six week contract – can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been doing?

I have been working on the Silver Studio collection, cataloguing original designs on paper for wallpaper and textile designs. This has involved locating paperwork in the collection store and checking this information against other records such as daybooks and the original Studio photographs, then entering this data onto a spreadsheet.  From there the information will be uploaded onto the collection database, MI+. I have also been responsible for accurately describing the designs, specifying what they depict and the artistic movement.
  

Q:  what has been the most interesting aspect of the work?
  
For me, the most interesting aspect of the work has been to study the original designs. My personal research interests focus on exploring the role of human figures in art and I have been fascinated to examine the manipulation, exploitation and decoration of the body and understand their application and aesthetic symbolism in domestic interiors.
  
Q: did anything about the work surprise you? what have you learnt?
  
Although I had previous experience cataloguing museum collections, I had limited knowledge of describing specific artistic motifs and themes that were required for recording the Silver Studio designs to an appropriate standard. Over the course of the project I became familiar with the patterns and was able to identify the designers through distinctive characteristics within the designs.  It surprised me to see the range of material that is held in the collection store at MoDA, and to learn how these can be used as a valuable resource by students and researchers.
  
Kirsty showing Middlesex University's new Chancellor, Dame Janet Ritterman
some designs from the Silver Studio Collection
Q: what’s next for you now? how will this experience help you get your next job?
  
For the next couple of weeks I am fortunate to be remaining at MoDA to work on another project to acquire copyright authorisation for images used in MoDA’s publications ‘Thirtiestyle’ and ‘Fiftiestyle’. These titles form part of a series of colourful guides to all aspects of decoration and design in the home and due to their popularity the museum is aiming to reprint them. This will require me to take on more of an administrative role, but  as a fairly recent graduate, I feel it is important to gain as much experience in different aspects of the museum and heritage industry as possible. Hopefully this will open up new opportunities for me in the future.



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