Geddes Pioneer Chair Collection

Margaret McBean’s internship at the Gold Museum.

I am a Deakin University Cultural Heritage student and have just completed an internship at the Gold Museum.

Margaret photographing a chair from the Geddes Collection (Photo: Liz Marsden)

Margaret photographing a chair from the Geddes Collection (Photo: Liz Marsden)

I have been fortunate in having the opportunity to work alongside Collections Manager, Elizabeth Marsden, who generously shared her knowledge and provided many experiences in supporting my learning.

My project involved auditing the Geddes Pioneer Chair Collection, a fascinating assortment of early Australian chairs and stools acquired by Sovereign Hill in 1975.

Most of the items have been handmade and they demonstrate striking improvisation, practical skills and creativity.

Improved storage space has made this project possible and the Vernon collection database presents the opportunity for optimal recording and future uploading to the website.

The internship focus was on familiarisation and practical application of collection management standards.

Existing records for each object were checked then the items were assessed for conservation needs, photographed, given new location codes and placed in the relevant storage area.

During this process, comments for future action and observations were noted and basic preservation attention was provided if necessary.

Data was added to Vernon which gave me useful experience in professional collection recording.

Wire chair from the Geddes Collection (Gold Museum, 77.037)

Wire chair from the Geddes Collection (Gold Museum, 77.037)

Further research was required at times and I was also pleased to learn new skills in object handling, digital photography and editing.

I was amazed with the way a photographic studio space could be created with minimal resources.

The key realisation for me was the importance of policies and methodical practices for collection management. A clear location system is obviously vital.

The chance to become familiar with a professional heritage organisation has been valuable.

In appreciating the relationship between the Gold Museum and Sovereign Hill, it was interesting to observe the helpful and collaborative interactions between staff and volunteers in varied roles.

I have particularly enjoyed the teamwork and problem solving aspects and am grateful to develop many understandings and skills.

My appreciation for the collection and individual objects has been cultivated through the internship process and I have many ‘favourites’!

Written by Margaret McBean, student enrolled in Deakin University’s Graduate Diploma of Cultural Heritage.

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