This year we were delighted to be asked to partner with Kingston University on their MA in Museum & Gallery Studies. The Museum Collections Manager, Head of Library and Museum Collections and Communications and Events Manager worked with students on a module for their MA called ‘The Challenge of Change’, delivering presentations to the students and inviting them to create a campaign to #SaveBH.
As part of the module students delivered their plans to the SAL team who were inspired by their enthusiam and progressive ideas. Our thanks to Dr Helen Wickstead, Senior Lecturer at Kingston University for this opportunity. This outreach project was a great example of how the Society can work with universities and students and we hope to continue this partnership with Kingston moving forward.
Lamp of Knowledge animation by Megan Strong.
Covid lockdowns have made life difficult for students this year. Even more so for Museum Studies students who lost valuable fieldtrips and placements. Kingston University students however, have been immensely fortunate to work with SAL on the Save Burlington House Campaign. Students produced posters, eflyers, podcasts and short films for #BurlingtonHouse. Each student developed their own new concept, preparing a ‘pitch’ which they presented to SAL staff in a specially devised one-day conference. Ideas ranged from pop-up tours, to exhibitions of Tudor queens and an ‘adopt-a-brick’ fundraiser. The students found working on a live campaign with national media coverage especially rewarding. Here are some examples of their work.
DISCOVERY SERIES, MEGAN STRONG
Megan Strong used SAL’s audience development research – which suggests audiences think of SAL as a “hidden gem” – to rebrand SAL’s visual communications around the theme of discovery. Megan’s new designs incorporated fragments of William Morris alongside images from items in SAL’s museum and archives. Her film trailer for “Discovery Series” set Sir Hans Sloane’s ‘Lamp of Knowledge’ alight to the sound of half-heard conversation. Another short teaser animated the Society’s copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry. “Discovery Series” included designs for eflyers, an animated ident and new headers for SAL’s youtube channel and twitter page. Megan’s mock-up of Burlington House decked out in her new banners and posters can be seen above.
SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES UNLOCKED, PERRILA TAMMANG
Perrila Tammang’s ‘Society of Antiquaries Unlocked’ project devised a series of museum podcasts complementing SAL’s public lectures and youtube channel. To demonstrate how SAL could use podcasting to promote the Save Burlington House campaign Perrila produced her own podcast, interviewing SAL’s Communications and Events Manager, Danielle Wilson Higgins. You can listen to Perrila’s podcast here.
LOVE IS LOVE, NAOMI BAILEY
“Don’t explain your philosophy, embody it”
Naomi Bailey took a popular quote from Epictetus’ Enchiridion as the motto for her programme of LGBTQ+ events and exhibitions. She was able to draw on SAL’s rich history of queer fellows and scholarship, incorporating a lecture on the camp sensibility of eighteenth century aesthete Horace Walpole FSA (whose collection at Strawberry Hill House is illustrated in engravings in SAL’s archives). She also reached out to living LGBTQ+ historians and artists suggesting new subjects for lectures and art residencies exploring LGBTQ+ themes in SAL’s archives and collections at Burlington House.
Naomi’s animation introducing her programme of events can be seen here.
LEARN FROM A FELLOW, HOLLY BASTABLE
Holly Bastable engaged productively with student’s anxieties about their future careers this year. ‘Learn from a Fellow’ devised workshops, talks and careers evenings in which fellows were paid to pass on their experience of developing careers in heritage, museums, archaeology, history, art history and conservation to the next generation. Holly’s year-long programme was run through a scheme employing emerging professionals in media and events. Showing awareness of SAL’s limited resources, she packaged her project report as an almost ready-to-go National Lottery Heritage Fund application, full of bright ideas like her suggestion that SAL join the free national Student Art Pass scheme.
You can watch Holly’s short film for ‘Learn from a Fellow’ here.
A GLIMPSE IN ANCIENT INDIAN CULTURE, SRUSHTI JADHAV
Srusht worked with SAL’s remit to encourage, advance and further “the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries”. Her project aimed to increase awareness of the international scope of fellowship among academics in India as well as developing Burlington House’s profile as a centre for study of Ancient Indian cultures at Burlington House. SAL has a long history of involvement with India. Its museum includes rare coins donated by the directors of the East India Company and eighteenth drawings documenting Europeans encounters with Indian sculptures and architecture. Srushti used her expertise in Indian archaeology to devise a knowledge exchange scheme connecting scholars from India with audiences in London. Her wide ranging project reached out to schools and universities and explored ways SAL could increase funding for educational activities in future.
The Save Burlington House campaign provided a context for students to debate live issues facing museums in 2021. We were able to use the threat to the learned societies of Burlington House and their accredited museums to explore wider questions: Why and how do cities and communities need museums? How is the nineteenth-century urban model with museums at its heart influenced by contemporary forces including gentrification, climate change and remote-working? What are the ethical considerations involved in museum disposals? What is value of maintaining collections in their historical surroundings? In September 2020 an ICOM survey found 6.1% of museums worldwide reported they would not reopen after the pandemic. In Britain, where the Mapping Museums Database shows more museums have closed than opened every year since 2015, it seemed as if lockdowns might compound the existing trends threatening museums. Nine UK museums closed this year – fewer than was expected. Losing museum premises and/or being unable to find new accommodation was a major threat leading to closure in the majority of these cases (Candlin 2021). Using the situation facing the learned societies of Burlington House as a starting point, our students Qian Pan and Maria Maddalena Torricella conducted research exploring the social consequences of museum relocation and closure. The costs associated with moving away from Burlington House would likely require SAL to sell items from its collections, and this predicament allowed Megan Edwards, Caylyn Sheldon and Sunyun Yang to write about the ethics of disposal. Lastly, Ruoya Dong and Ning Gao were inspired by the campaigning spirit of Save Burlington House to produce essays investigating some of the ethical dilemmas that can occur when museums adopt a campaigning role.
In a year when teaching has been especially challenging we felt blessed to be working with SAL. 100% of our students agreed that the Save Burlington House partnership was “interesting”, “helped them to learn”, “provided materials that supported their learning” and gave them “opportunities to participate”. Students told me they “enjoyed every moment” and there were some excellent examples of achievement. The students and I are especially grateful to Dunia Garcia-Ontiveros, Kate Bagnall and Danielle Wilson Higgins, for all their hard work making this possible for us. They supplied learning materials, delivered online talks, listened to students pitch concepts, patiently answered questions and helped students refine and tailor their ideas. Thank you SAL.
Dr Helen Wickstead MCIfA,
Course Director, MA Museum and Gallery Studies, Kingston University