Written following the UKRG event on CPD and Insurance “It’s Good to Talk” at the Cinema Museum in London on Friday 6th July 2018.
There is a sense of defiance about an old building nestled between modern flats and high rise living. One of the best things about the members meetings is experiencing different Museums and Galleries, challenging perceptions over what a Museum is and how the role of the registrar fits within modern museums and galleries. Is the biggest challenge explaining to others what registrars do in a modern institution?
The day itself had a really wide breadth of speakers and experiences they are sharing are real.
If you’re wondering about attending a UK Registrars members meeting, I can tell you it’s definitely worth coming along, I find the chance to meet fellow UK Registrar members is so valuable.
Following on from the security theme at the members’ event in York, it was perfect timing to look at insurance during the first half of the day, and I really enjoyed hearing first from Blackwall Green about how a commercial insurer works with museums and galleries. It was particularly applicable where you might be dealing with a high number of loan items, in a temporary exhibition scenario for example or you deal with loan items going out of your institution.
An Absolute Liability Clause (a clause whereby you as borrower will be liable for anything not explicitly covered by your policy) tends to be more common where private lenders are concerned but is also becoming more frequently employed in institutions in Europe, particularly Germany and Austria.
We can’t completely escape the complexity of getting the right balance of insurance and indemnity, and the three things that really struck me were:
- Take a practical approach
- Seek advice where needed (so you need to know when to ask for help!)
- Blackwell Green can provide support to institutions
- Make sure there are no gaps in cover, or contradictions
Nickos Gogolos from the V&A gave an update on National Museums applying to use commercial insurance. A piece of work has been undertaken jointly with DCMS, V&A and the Arts Council to gave a practical approach to the application process and discussion is ongoing to explore whether a threshold could be introduced, below which no formal application need be made. DCMS can also assist in advocating for indemnity if required.
The rest of day was devoted to the discussion of CPD opportunities. There is an amazing breadth of CPD opportunities available to the Museum and galleries sector and CPD is something that is very relevant and has real personal resonance as I have recently taken quite a dramatic career detour.
I am studying for a MA in Museum Studies and currently volunteering as a Collections Volunteer at Salisbury Museum documenting the Rex Whistler archives. I have worked for National Trust for 9 years focused mainly in Visitor Engagement with latter roles involving key representative duties, practical conservation and liaising with curatorial teams; it was these areas that I felt most at home with and could contribute most towards in our sector.
Hazel Shorland gave a really useful insight into her experience of applying (with success) for the “2017 Institute of Art & Law Diploma in Law and Collections Management Course” The course itself was delivered over the period of a week with a different theme each day. Practical examples were provided including issues around copyright and ownership, with case studies including Star Wars & Lucas film and Henry Moore’s public sculpture. Lots that can be applied in the role of the registrar.
Fiona Thornton and Cassia Pennington from National Museums Scotland shared their work on the NMS Knowledge Exchange. It has not only strengthened staff and volunteer skills but also looked at the learning and engagement opportunities with collections for different audiences. I was really fascinated by the “Next of Kin” project, it commemorated the centenary of the First World War with a touring exhibition, learning programme and online resources.
It was really inspiring to hear about the different ways of learning, including the V&A’s learning academy. The programme is well publicised and constantly evolving with a wide range of courses with different funding options. I found it really useful to hear about the process of designing a training course from Malini Balluck. The V&A team gets to know the course participants and work with organisations to produce courses that are in tune with their career paths. It makes for a powerful programme of offerings and enables the V&A to design bespoke packages when required.
I wasn’t aware that Sotherbys offer a training programme so I was intrigued to learn how a commercial organisation offers learning and how it can be utilised in a museum setting. Katie Robson from the Royal Armouries attended the Art Market course, this was largely via online delivery and was fairly flexible. It also included a day in London at Sotherbys institute. The course gave an insight into the links between Museums and auction houses and how the relationships work and the part we play as registrars.
We broke into small groups to discuss our experiences of CPD, and both the group sessions and the remaining talks demonstrated the breadth of training opportunities available across the heritage and cultural sector. One thing that did strike me was how difficult it can be to find the right courses, and also to attend (ie funding and time etc.).
In our small group session there were some common themes about what makes for a really good course including:
- Well organised in the lead up, on the day and post course
- Course participants are engaged in the learning experience and willing to share experiences
- The course delivers what was promised
I always think the acid test of a great course is one that sits in your memory, informs your practise and you feel confident in sharing your learning. A course that delivered that for me was Emergency Salvage training. It was devised by English Heritage, Historic England and National trust. It was delivered by a number of industry professionals including Steve Emery, Fire Safety Adviser for English Heritage. It was well organised and you knew what to expect from the 3 days. It brought together a real mixture of staff and volunteers including Museums, heritage sites, country estates and even an aquarium! We worked with firefighters in a non-emergency situation prior to a simulated salvage exercise at the fire station. We also had time to share experience and also network over dinner. The follow up post course also helped reinforce the learning experience.
Rachel Coman, student & Collections Volunteer, Salisbury Museum