It’s all getting exciting now as we enter the final stretch of the exhibition planning. There are people working on conservation, photography, planning, mount making and text writing. The website is being developed, and there’s a real sense of anticipation in the air. We’ve had the usual glitches and hiccups: one of our team here had to disappear to the other end of the country to collect an object; and I’m pretty certain that plans for one of the cases got as far as ‘artefact assemblage plan G’ before we settled on a final option. Anyway, we got there: we have a great range of objects and hopefully a fascinating story to tell.
Last time I wrote on this blog I referred to learning from each other, which after all is one of the things we intended to get out of this. So what have we learned to date? Well, we know that Cambridge Museums appear to have a wide range of beautiful objects, far more so than we ever envisaged. I suppose that’s the benefit of holding a collection that dates back to the mid-19th century. It’s also been quite humbling to see the enthusiasm from other museums for this project: once our objective had been explained it seems to me others were really keen to be involved. Hence we have exhibits covering from the lower Palaeolithic to Victorian, so fairly eclectic. Or so it seems to me: perhaps it’s usual for museums!
I also want to pay tribute to those involved in this project: the curators and team at MAA, the officers here at CambsCC and all those who have been brought in to add their thoughts and ideas to the process. When we open on 30 January you will be seeing the fruits of the wide collaborations that have been behind this project. How do I know we’re onto a good thing? I was at the recent celebration of 25 years of PPG16 and developer funded archaeology (https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/building-the-future-transforming-our-past/) and a colleague who had heard Imogen speak at the recent SMA conference congratulated me on a joint project between local authority archaeologists and museums. I think she meant congratulations to all of us.
Quinton Carroll, Historic Environment Team Manager