Thursday, September 15, 2011

Postcard from the museum storage depot

One problem with museums is that they only have a limited amount of space. So visitors have to look at what has been chosen for display by the curators. Which is all very well, but when the museum actually owns thousands of other objects it's a bit of a shame. So I loved having a root around the Museums Collection Centre which is a big warehouse storing all the items owned by museums in Birmingham which aren't part of current exhibitions.

It's more akin to having a rummage around an antiques shop than going to a museum. Items are arranged more by whether they fit the storage space than their relation to the object next to them. So a carved horse from a merry-go-round sits next to some engine parts; empty gilt frames lean against a model of the canal network in the Black Country. Wandering at random down aisles stacked like a surreal warehouse, or peering into cabinets packed with odd assortments of household items, sparks ideas and memories.

There's a writing workshop as part of the Birmingham Book Festival this year in which you could spend the night locked in this place. I'd love to read some of the work produced on the night, but you couldn't persuade me to stay overnight. Who knows what's lurking in among the artefacts to jump out after dark?

4 comments:

Lexi said...

That bike is so old it was made before they thought of pedals!

The Centre sounds more fun than the museum, except you can't buy what you fancy, which is the nice thing about shops. Perhaps museums should sell what they have no room to display?

postcardsfromk said...

I wondered if it could work like a library: you borrow an item, have it at home for a while and swap it for another when you fancy a change. I suppose the insurance would be prohibitive...

Lexi said...

Yes. Though Downing Street does that with paintings from the national collections. But I suppose they think the PM is to be trusted...

Hmmm.

Timberati said...

"But I suppose they think the PM is to be trusted..."

Bwa ha ha...

The fools!!