Wednesday, 10 December 2014


I've recently written a chapter for a forthcoming book edited by Helen Chatterjee and Leonie Hannan at UCL about using objects in higher education. My piece is all about the idea of 'rummaging' as something that needs to be taken a bit more seriously, but also a bit more playfully in museums, as a way in which people can engage creatively with things without needing to 'know' anything.

Rummaging is a word that we used a lot when exploring the Mary Greg collection at Manchester Art Gallery (you can look at the project blog Mary Mary Quite Contrary to find out more, and we must acknowledge our colleagues Liz Mitchell and Sharon Blakey too as the project was, and continues to be, a real team effort and labour of love). It is a word I use a great deal now in my research and practice. I love a good rummage. Perhaps we all do. There's often something serendipitous about what you might (or might not) find, and it almost always leads to even more rummaging or discovery. In fact I have just been rummaging through my digital photo library to find some pictures of Hazel rummaging... A meta-rummage.

Hazel finding some spillikins (I think)
Sometimes we have to wear gloves, and sometimes we don't. These blue ones are horrible. They soon get sweaty and smell of rubber and are a bit restrictive. I have thought quite a lot about this too and have interviewed different museum staff and artists about rummaging about in the stores, and inevitably the subject of wearing gloves has cropped up. It's always a bit controversial and people are quite passionate in their love or hate of gloves. I wonder what others might think?

Mary Greg's nature diary in the Sheffield Archives


At 10 December 2014 at 06:43 , Blogger hazel said...

I think those bits in paper are indeed the bits and bobs of broken Noah's ark animals... bits of hoof and ear...

At 10 December 2014 at 07:01 , Blogger Alex W said...

Oh, so they are! How brilliant. I hadn't zoomed in closely enough to see that. 'Loose Parts'. I have a photo of the loose parts envelope somewhere. Is the zebra's head there, or was it after that incident?


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