On the tourist trail

Well  I’m finally back behind my desk, after a busy few weeks and an Easter break chez Paton, attempting to write this my very first blog for MGS, actually my very first blog for anywhere.  In mid March there was a break in the otherwise cauld and snowy weather which made the journey to Dingwall (plus guaranteed return to home and hearth) possible. I stayed for a couple of days while I visited some of our members in the lovely Black Isle and beyond.

There was lots of snow sparkling but refusing to melt in the bright and actually very warm sunshine which added to the picture postcard views as I drove between Tain, Dingwall, Rosemarkie, Cromarty and all points in between. Although I’ve travelled over much of Scotland it was my first visit to the Black Isle – my only knowledge of the Cromarty Firth  was memories of news items featuring it as major manufacturing base for North Sea Oil Rigs in the 1970’s and 80’s.  The remaining rigs looked rather alluring and interesting, now as much part of the beautiful scenery as they are part of the history of the area but the Firth is also very important for sighting seals and dolphins, so something for everyone. Unfortunately they decided I wasn’t worthy of an appearance.

The trio of museums offer different visitor experiences. In Cromarty Court House you can witness a trial from the 1770’s and follow the convict’s journey to the cells below and from this summer it will also be a civil marriage venue (no jokes about gaining a ball and chain please!). They also offer research and genealogy resources which they want to develop. Tain and District Museum, located in a church caretaker’s cottage, has a beautiful and nationally important silver collection reflecting a long tradition of silversmith’s craft in the area.  The curator and the museum’s volunteers have been actively shaping and developing this collection. Groam House Museum in Rosemarkie is an important Pictish Centre for the area with a marvellous collection of Pictish carved stones. They are also developing the george Bain collection and provided training to help their volunteers work with the collection.  George Bain is regarded as the father of modern Celtic design. Part of his collection was acquired in 1998 and they are gradually adding to and developing this wonderful resource.  I hope to feature a case study about both in the near future on the Collections Development web pages.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been busy organising a Collections Review and Disposal Seminar which took place in Perth on 30th March.  Again snow threatened to throw a spanner in the works but I’m glad to say that despite that (and my absence, thanks to colleague Georgina Ripley for covering for me) the day went ahead. It proved to be informative and generated lots of discussion and questions. Consultant Paul Webb who has worked extensively in this area of collections development introduced our three guest speakers from Perth Museum, Stockport Museum Service and the STiCK specialist network. Our partner organisations were the Museums Association and University College London who took delegates through a collections review workshop using UCL developed methodology. Keep a look out on the Collections Development web pages under Disposal and Loans where I’ll post up more information. You can also find links to other resources about collections reviews and disposal on these pages. If you have carried out a collections review or disposal please get in touch with me if you want to share your experience on our web pages or offer advice to colleagues.

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