Working on an installation of 173 coffee makers. Still more to come…
The special exhibition area is abandoned. Where only half an hour ago artifacts were put into racks or cleaned by conservators, everything is quiet. The last working day before Christmas. Usually, that’s the day to arrange papers and thoughts, review the past year, look ahead to upcoming projects and share some of these thoughts with colleagues.
This year is different. Christmas „catches“ me in the middle of the installation of our upcoming special exhibition, on electrical household appliances. Last year was packed with taking care of vacuum cleaners, pressing irons, food processors, hair-dryers, coffee makers… well over 1500 objects were picked for exhibition, many more were researched and their data corrected in the data base. Now everything must be put in the right place, get individual treatment (i.e. fixing of loose parts or cleaning) and a correct label. No contemplative working process that invites reflectiveness. But I don’t want to leave for the holidays without my own personal review and outlook, especially because this time I can share it with colleagues all around the world:
Aside from the challenges of the aforementioned collections exhibition the last year was defined by the start and growth of Registrar Trek. We went live on January 2nd and I’m sure that there will be time for a special review on our first anniversary. It’s great to see how a weird idea from two people has developed within one year into a project that is known and supported by so many colleagues around the globe.
Christmas tree at the TECHNOSEUM: decorated with household appliances… TECHNOSEUM, picture by Klaus Luginsland
The financial crisis in North America and Europe is clearly noticeable, especially in the cultural sector. I know that many of our readers and some members of the Registrar Trek team are trying desperately to get back into a job in the field of collections management. Unfortunately, all that we can do is keep our fingers crossed and wish them the best of luck, courage and the power of endurance.
Those who are in permanent contracts feel the growing pressure of taking over more responsibilities because the work must be done with fewer colleagues and declining budgets. Combining professional ethics and financial needs is a difficult task. Amidst of all this trouble, let us not forget that the collections field is not the only one affected by the crisis. I have seen many discussions on professional groups and listservs about how money is spent on the wrong things and wrong projects, and it seems to me that every colleague envies the other for funded projects. Personally, I feel that’s not a successful approach. As registrars, collection managers, curators of collections or documentation officers we are in the same boat as conservators, educators, guides, guards, curators, marketing people… The boat is called „museum,“ and we will need each others’ skills to avoid shipwreck.
…obviously, our marketing department likes the upcoming exhibition as much as we collections people do. TECHNOSEUM, picture by Klaus Luginsland
So, for the new year, let us do what we collections people do best: take care of the things that need close attention to detail, help with paperwork and organizational tasks, and, in the figurative sense, wrap the frayed nerves – our own and those of our colleagues.
I’m really glad that the Registrar Trek Team does consist of so many professions: there are of course registrars and collection managers, but also conservators, curators, marketing specialists, visitor guides and people from totally different fields. This variety keeps the exchange of thoughts interesting and the development of this project joyful. For the upcoming year, we have more exciting stories and articles in the pipeline, so stay tuned.
Now I’m going to gather some waste and stack a few pallets before I leave for Christmas. But before that, in the name of the whole Registrar Trek Team:
We wish you Merry Christmas and a happy healthy and successful New Year 2014!
This text is also available in Italian translated by Silvia Telmon.