Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beyond Curation-Teaching Collections Care & Management

By Doug Kendall, Curator of Collections

As Curator of Collections for Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmer's Museum, I expect to spend much of my time here at the Museums managing and caring for those collections. One aspect of my job that is unlike that of my colleagues at other museums is my involvement with the Cooperstown Graduate Program.

CGP is well into its fifth decade as the premier program for the training of museum professionals in the United States. Each year, there are about 30 students enrolled in the program. As a program combining academic rigor and technical training in all aspects of museum training, CGP produces graduates who go on to careers not only as curators, but as directors, educators, exhibition designers and development staff at history museums, art museums and even some science museums.

Assistant Curator of Collections, John Hart, works with students to make custom housing for small objects.

First-year students in the Program take Collections Care and Management during the spring semester. I get to put on my Adjunct Professor hat and teach about the current professional standards for collections care (the physical preservation of the objects) and collections management (all the legal and ethical aspects of maintaining museum collections), with the help of other staff members. One week, we may be considering the potential dangers to textile collections, the next reviewing current debates in the museum field about deaccessions or repatriation of cultural objects to their countries of origin. Not only do I get to teach the students, they always help keep me and the other teaching staff up-to-date on issues in the museum field.

Curator of The Farmers' Museum, Erin Crissman, discusses the condition of a buffalo hide lap robe with 1st year students at the museums’ storage facility.

This spring the students in Collections Care and Management are submitting blog posts about the class as one of their assignments. I hope that I’ll be able to share some of them with you in the coming weeks.

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