Enlightenment! trip to London – November 2010
November 17, 2010 1 Comment
On the 4th of November 10 of us – from the three partner museums – went down to London. The first stop on our tour was Sotheby’s Auction House where we went to the ‘Travel Maps, Atlases and Natural History’ auction. This was followed by a viewing of the ‘Antique and Decorative Print’s’ auction at Bloomsbury.
After lunch we headed over to the British Museum where Kim Sloan (Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery) and Francis Carey (Head of public programmes) gave us a fantastic and in-depth tour of the Enlightenment Gallery. The day was finished off with tea and cakes in the British Museum canteen. Below is some of the feedback from the day;
“I thought it was a brilliant and inspiring day. I’d never visited a big auction house before and was amazed at the speed of the buying process, also very interesting to see how many of the bids were done by phone or online -all quite a revelation! Kim Sloane gave us a wonderful and comprehensive introduction to the Enlightenment Gallery. It was very interesting to hear about how the development of the gallery involved so many different curatorial departments and a fascinating insight into the design concept of the gallery – gentleman’s study, cabinets of curiosities and a library. I was also particularly interested in hearing about how environmental monitoring and management were undertaken and this was really helpful in terms of the conservation course I’m currently taking. Kim and Frances Carey then took us to the amazing BM canteen for tea and cakes and gave us a very honest and informative insight into their work.”
“The Sotheby’s auction, although we weren’t bidding ourselves, was a fascinating chance to see a large auction house at work, and I feel that the experience will benefit anybody who has to go and bid at an auction in future. The amount of telephone and internet bidding was definitely a surprise!
The curator led gallery tour at the British Museum was, however, the highlight of the day for me. The presence of both Kim and Francis was testament to the standing of the Enlightenment! project and the potential opportunities that exist for closer co-operation with the collections and expertise of the British Museum. The openness and honesty of Kim’s tour was as enlightening as the gallery itself, and it is always strangely reassuring when hearing about the problems others have experienced to realise that whatever the size of the museum, the importance of the collection and the size of the budget, the problems we encounter are invariably the same. It was a credit to Kim that she discussed such problems openly, and I know that it provided the group with much food for thought which will benefit future gallery and exhibition design projects for us all, during the Enlightenment! project and beyond.”