Thursday, 20 December 2012

Visit to Nitshill - Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC)

Hello again,

Within the last couple of weeks before the coming festive holiday I have been continuing with the cataloguing of Cordelia and George Oliver's articles and photographs, along with some personal research into the period. Besides this the volunteers of the project had, and took, the opportunity to go on a field trip!

Within the past week both the volunteer archive assistants and researchers paid a visit to the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) at Nitshill. I can honestly say, I was astonished by the scale of the available resources and goals of this facility. To give you a little background; the GMRC is a purpose-built facility that stores materials and artefacts owned by Glasgow when they are not on display in any of the City's museums or galleries. As we were repeatedly informed by our lovely tour guide, that is a million-or-so objects conveniently stored in one space, ranging from: an armoury of medieval weapons, paintings, animals suffering from taxidermy, stone monuments, to fish-shaped coffins. Impressively, this facility is not only built to store these artefacts but to make them publicly accessible; providing eager support to researchers and to anyone showing an interest in any of the materials or their backgrounds.

Photo courtesy of the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre

( please follow this link for more information on the GMRC, including the learning opportunities for children and schools, its collection and how to get in touch if you wish to pursue this further).

This made viewing the materials particularly interesting on the tour as we could see how the storage was designed to facilite this with the best example probably being how the paintings were stored. If you imagine a shelf of CDs and how you might pull out each one to find the correct artist, and then replace those CDs with several warehouse sized walls which can be pulled out, and on which several paintings are hung, you will have some idea of what I mean. It is truly impressive how the facility is looking to accomodate public access to these materials, and is well worth a look if you have the time.

Besides this, the GMRC is currently in the process of cataloguing their own library, as well as the library materials of other museums in Glasgow (The Burrell, Transport Museum and Kelvingrove), which can be used to provide background into many of the objects stored there. Again this is open to the public, and you will find the head librarian incredibly helpful in providing information if there is anything you are particularly interested in.

I was also made aware of some of the attempts of the centre to digitise their materials. In particular, the tour guide highlighted the creation of an online resource which is attempting to photograph every painting in the GMRC's possession (an incredible undertaking). If you follow this link, you will be able to see some of their vast collection (3000 uploaded so far and counting).

Overall I found this an exceptionally interesting visit, and was delighted by how engaging the GMRC staff were. Their enthusiastic response to questions made them very approachable and a pleasure to deal with. If you have the time and inclination it is well worth a visit.

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