The Collections Trust Award highlights the often-unsung achievements of those who manage the collections that lie at the heart of all museums. The award for 2020-21 ‘Celebrating Collections Management’ has been won by Kiplin Hall and Gardens for their work on the Annie Marchant Kitchen and Dairy Collection. As well as industry recognition the award also brings a cash prize of £1,000 for the museum.
The Annie Marchant Project has seen the team at Kiplin achieve exceptional outcomes under lockdown conditions. The collection of kitchen and dairy objects was secured by Kiplin as a bequest after the sad passing of Kent based antiques dealer Annie Marchant at just 68 years old in early 2020.
Project Officer, Alice Rose, who was recruited especially for this project explains how the work was initially undertaken. “Kiplin Hall is in North Yorkshire, the Annie Marchant Kitchen and Dairy Collection (around 300 objects) was in Kent. Working with Museum Development South East, we recruited a freelance curator to inventory the collection in Kent. This facilitated discussions between the team at Kiplin Hall, the freelance curator and the executor of the collection to select objects in line with our collections development policy. This was achieved via email, telephone and video calls due to travel restrictions. We then worked remotely with a packing firm to arrange transport to Kiplin.”
But that was not the end of the story. “Once the objects were on site at Kiplin Hall (August 2020) and checked against the inventory, organic materials (for example those made of wood or textiles) were separated. These objects (approximately 150) were repacked and transported to Leeds to be frozen in a specialist freezer to reduce the risk of incoming pests before being returned to Kiplin Hall in North Yorkshire.”
Meanwhile museum grade storage facilities were put in place at Kiplin Hall to allow for the full cleaning and documenting of the collection. Working with a team of dedicated volunteers each and every object is photographed, cleaned, labelled and placed on display or in storage.
The Collections Trust held an online awards ceremony via Zoom on Thursday 1st April where the shortlisted nominees were invited to present their projects and the winner was announced. Alice Rose, representing Kiplin Hall and Gardens said “Having seen the exceptional work undertaken by the other nominees it is even more thrilling to win this award against such stiff competition. I’d especially like to thank our volunteers for their work, which is still ongoing, to properly care for and research this unique and informative collection.”
Long term plans for the collection are currently underway as Director, James Etherington, explains. “This new collection helps us to fill a gap in the histories of Kiplin Hall. The objects in the hall are mostly the possessions of the owner families who lived here. But we have little evidence of the everyday lives of the people who lived and worked on the estate. These newly acquired objects will help us to tell those stories to our visitors.”
An exhibition introducing the collection has also been installed at the museum this spring, but due to lockdown restrictions was launched with a video online, featuring local MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. The museum will re-open to visitors once restrictions allow. For now, visitors can enjoy exploring the historic grounds and gardens at Kiplin Hall which are open 6 days a week, closed on Thursdays. You can also find out more about volunteering at Kiplin Hall and Gardens on the website www.kiplinhall.co.uk.