I’ve made it to the final week’s worth of learning for Future Learn‘s ‘Understanding Museums as a Site and Source for Learning’.
This section of the course focuses on the role of a conservator in museums, especially when working with contemporary art that might have been made from less-than-sturdy materials. How do you preserve and record, and do you need to preserve it at all in some cases?
The main function of a conservator is to look after the artworks in their organisation’s collection – so proper installation and storage instructions are very important. A wide range of skills are necessary, and an understanding of a huge range of possible materials. The course didn’t mention it, but I assume you would also need to know may specialists in this job! We are asked the question – when it comes to caring for an artwork, who’s opinion is more important, the conservator or the original artist? I feel I would slightly come down on the side of the conservator, as their organisation is in a position of responsibility – frequently to the public, if an artwork is purchased and maintained with public funding.
There was a discussion around conserving the installation ‘Inner City’, which I mentioned in my previous blogpost for this course. This was able more than preserving the physical aspects – there were sound files on obsolete disc technology that had to be recreated, and a lighting system that needed updating for current health and safety regulations. In a digital age, these kind of issues will be more and more common in the future. However, there is also the issue of whether the degradation of an artwork is a part of the artwork’s history, or whether you should keep it exactly as it was when first created.
The next section revolved around the basics of how you would create a collection and the basics of an exhibition. This was really interesting to read, but harder to write about! Plus, I’m about to pay Future Learn/University of Glasgow to have this course accredited, which as well as getting an exciting certificate, it means that unlike some previous Future Learn courses, I get to go back to this course whenever I like!
This has been a very different, fascinating course for me to do, and while I promised myself that I wouldn’t be taking any Future Learn courses just for the sake of Blaugust content, I may have to sign up for something else verrrrryyyy soon…