Managing Collections – Week 3

This week I added 2 new aims and 1 additional objective for our group project. The new aims are:

  •  [in]visibility aims to take an intersectional approach; to explore how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the diverse but inseparable identities represented in our intended audience. 
  • [in]visibility aims to use a hyperlocal strategy, by concentrating the project around a well-defined community and targeting specific localities.

These are rough first drafts again and will be edited or reworded by the group leader for the purpose of the proposal. I wanted to include an aim about how we intend to explore how class is an interconnecting factor, underpinning each sub-theme, but realised that what I was trying to describe was intersectionality. Discrimination faced by the communities we are hoping to work with cannot be separated from socioeconomic background. I also wanted to include an aim about hyper-locality as this may impact the engagement methods we choose.

The objective I added is purposefully concise:

  • To increase familiarity with the arts for Kaleidoscope Creatives. 

This was based on my intimate knowledge of the audience group – I understand that KC’s have little confidence engaging with the arts sector, and don’t feel as though traditional or mainstream institutions or events are “for them”. Achieving an increased sense of familiarity is a realistic objective for a project of this time scale, rather than aiming for complete familiarity which would no doubt require a longer-term project.

Alexandra Park, November 2020
  • During this weeks meeting we further discussed the concept of hyper-locality; what it means for our project and how we arrived at it. As the audience spectrum statistical appendix is so detailed, we are able to see the geographical location of audience groups but also what kind of housing they live in and what kind of social activity they are likely to engage in. For Kaleidoscope Creatives, just under 50% are in London, but a large proportion live in the North West, in Greater Manchester. They are likely to live in terraced housing, council housing and use housing associations. At first it occurred to me that this perfectly indicates specific locations to advertise the project. KC’s rely heavily on local community networks for support, and are likely to have lived in the same area for most of their lives. This indicated that the community may be missing the local community networking and that an alternative way of providing this could be beneficial to them. We are therefore able to target local community organisations such as community centres, leisure centres and religious houses. I have been looking at Moss Side where I live, I walk past council houses every day. I know how diverse this area is and understand it’s reputation for crime and to an extent for poverty. Organisations that could be approached include Salaam Community Association: and Moss Side & Hulme Community Development Trust who are likely to provide the kind of support that KC’s rely on : .
  • During a meeting about the design considerations of the group project, another student came up with the idea to recreate an outdoor space inside for our online exhibition. This was based on the knowledge that our intended audience lack confidence in traditional gallery environments. They decided we will avoid a minimalist white cube gallery space. I thought this was a brilliant idea as it’s so focused towards our intended audience. The same person suggested a park could be used, as an outdoor space that is open to the public, free and one which doesn’t have any access barriers. Again I started thinking about the Moss Side Kaleidoscope Creative community, and identified Alexandra Park as the nearest park. I spent a lot of time walking around Alexandra Park during the first lockdown, it was frequently very busy and very well used by seemingly diverse communities of people. I suggested this to the group, but also kept in mind that we could use a Street, pocket-park or other well known and used public/outdoor spot. The other student conducted some research into the demographics of the surrounding areas (Moss Side and Whalley Range) and also identified that the Manchester Carnival takes place in Alexandra Park. According to the Kaleidoscope Creative Statistical Appendix, Carnivals are one such event that they enjoy attending – suggesting that Alexandra Park is not only within the geographic locality of our audience group, but that they are likely to have visited it for cultural events.

Alexandra Park November 2020, photograph by the author.
  • We discussed the definition of Indirect Collaboration slightly further this week. I had done a small amount of research, but haven’t found any literature which discusses it in a museum context yet. The general impression I get is that it is quite literal: remote collaboration, not face to face. I will need to do further research to expand on this.
  • Two member of the group have been discussing design elements of the exhibition this week – including accessible font and colour schemes to include in the proposal
  • I wanted to find a suitable way to record all the ideas I’ve been having for objects; before now I’ve saved text, photos and screenshots across different devices but needed to organise them and visualise them better. I know that in a couple of weeks we will be practicing using EMU collections management software, so I googled what information needed to be included for a brief catalogue record for a pre-acquisition object. Some of the information I’ve used in the document includes: object title, description, date, material, related objects, condition, current location, copyright issues and sub-theme (which is project specific).
  • I started reading the second Contemporary Collecting book edited by Owain Rhys, Theory and Practice. I have highlighted the following quotes:

…traditional museum collections are rarely representative of place, period or people – there are gender, race, sexuality and faith gaps, as well as the presence of untypical objects accepted in the past (House of Commons 2007, 124).

Contemporary collecting […] attempts to be objective, current and representative, using local voices and memories – therefore the research, recording and interpretation elements are crucial…

The question of whether or not to collect contemporary objects or intangible alternative forms of representation was further complicated… by the trend to create exhibitions based on topical narratives rather than on the objects available in the collection. One reason for this was that most museum collections were considered inadequate for conveying the complex stories of under-represented groups such as women, ethnic minorities, the working class, and other disadvantaged sections of society – oral history, photographs and other methods were preferred to record and display the stories of these groups.

With regards to community collecting, balancing all the different views within a group or over-representing minorities in the collections are problems which certainly need to be considered, especially if only a short amount of time is allowed for projects.

…multi-cultural and contemporary collecting are often synonymous” (Crook 1993, 272).

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