It’s been an action packed term so we thought we’d update you on some of the things that are happening. We’ve had Visit Days for new applicants, we’ve been visiting and researching our local museums and we’ve been watching as the changes to the Museum of English Rural Life start to take shape.
This term we have the modules ‘Museum History, Policy and Ethics’ and ‘Curatorship and Collections Management’ running. On Thursday one of our former students and members of staff Jen Allison is coming back to talk to our ‘Curatorship’ students about her role as Curator at REME Museum. They have a big move coming up soon so she’ll have a lot to tell our students about.
Our ‘Museum History, Policy and Ethics’ students were welcomed at Reading Museum last week. They got to see the early records of the museum and to explore how the collection was formed. Staff also talked about what it means to work in a local authority museum in the 21st century. We heard about the new Reading Abbey Quarter HLF bid, the long running loans box scheme, and the recent project ‘Hidden Voices’ which explores Reading’s LGBT history.
Blog wise we’ve been a little quiet this year. However, we have plans for much more regular updates which will explore Reading based projects, talk to people in the sector about their careers, and provide hints and tips for people interested in museums. Last but not least there is a new vlog series in town called ‘How Many Curators?’ It is an informal and light hearted look behind the scenes of our museum, library and archive service. We hope you enjoy it.
An art historian friend visited recently and there was a concerted effort to show her the culture that Reading had to offer. Walking around Reading with an art historian you become much more aware of the buildings that you usually ignore. She had made the journey because of an exhibition at Reading Museum John Tweed: The Empire Sculptor, Rodin’s Friend. She had even got a copy of the catalogue in advance. It was great to see that the book was authored and the exhibition co-curated by a former University of Reading student, now art historian, Dr Nicola Capon. I couldn’t take photos in the exhibition but there are some in the link. Tweed is dubbed ‘The Empire Sculptor’ and archival documents provide a fascinating insight into how these kinds of projects were negotiated, and the role that they played in the expansion and expression of empire. His “ideal” statues are also just really gorgeous to look at.
The same weekend I made good on a promise to visit an open studio, after my post on ‘slack spaces’ and artist run initiatives in Reading. After tweeting on that subject, Reading-based photographer Salvo Toscano got in touch to mention his open studio. He has some beautiful photographs from further afield but I was really drawn to the images from around Reading. Salvo lives not far from the Museum of English Rural Life (where I am based) and seeing local streets transformed by a photographer’s eye demonstrated the need to look again at my surroundings. It may be dangerous for somebody as clumsy as me to walk around staring up at buildings but I’m going to make a more concerted effort to stop and (don’t laugh) admire the beauty of Reading.