UKRG AGM and ‘In the News’
The Banqueting Suite, The New Armouries, Tower of London, London
On 6 November, members of the UKRG met in the impressive surroundings of the Tower of London for the 2014 AGM. Jane Knowles, Chair of the UKRG Committee, started off proceedings with a summary of the Committee’s activities and objectives for the year 2013/2014. In the last twelve months, the Committee has raised the profile of the UKRG on an international scale by representing the group at the Australasian Registrars Conference in Brisbane in March 2014 and the European Registrars Conference held in Helsinki in June 2014. The Committee has also strengthened links to organisations closer to home, including the Collections Trust and Arts Council England. A new student membership package has also been introduced to encourage the next generation of Registrars to engage with current hot topics of interest at our events and gain access to our network of contacts and resources. One such hot topic of interest included the UKRG Constitution – reviewed and revised by the Committee over the last two years. Alice Rymill did a great job of providing a brief summary of the main changes to the Constitution; namely the important amendment to the Definition of an individual member according to the Constitution – clarifying the position of our colleagues in the commercial sector – and a more in-depth look at the different membership opportunities. A vote to adopt these revisions to the Constitution was carried by the Membership. The new and improved Constitution will be up on the website very soon.
Reports from the rest of the Committee revealed a new series of Corporate packages, the addition of 2 new Corporate members (bringing the total to 24), more regular meetings with the Corporates, 64 new individual members (bringing the total to 344), improvements to the UKRG website and an increased social media presence to encourage existing and prospective members to share opinions and ideas and engage in debate. The Treasurer’s report reflected a healthy current balance of funds and the Events Officers reminded us of the excellent events Members have attended in the last twelve months.
As a previous Committee member, I appreciate the time and energy that goes in to managing the Membership, maintaining the website, balancing the books and keeping the events stimulating, engaging and interesting. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Committee for twelve months’ hard work!
The Tower of London: A Joint Venture in Collections Management
Rebecca Wallace, Registrar at Historic Royal Palaces and Laura Walsh, Registrar at the Royal Armouries
Taking on the newly created post of Registrar for Historic Royal Palaces with gusto, Rebecca Wallace informed members of plans to centralise the collection (currently spread across 90 stores) and develop the collections management systems. All with just three permanent Collections Care staff to assist her! (Go Rebecca!)
As a major Lender to many of Historic Royal Palaces’ buildings, including the venue for the day, Laura Walsh from the Royal Armouries joined Rebecca to outline the successes and challenges of Partnership working. Laura emphasised the importance of a carefully drafted Memorandum Of Understanding and bi-monthly planning meetings to share the responsibilities associated with these loans – such as joint salvage plans, care and maintenance and exhibitions – between the two organisations. Rebecca and Laura reflected that good communion and strong working relationships are, of course, also key; as well as a careful management of key stakeholders from both organisations, namely press, marketing and interpretation.
The Gurlitt Affair: Some Thoughts on the Legal Issues
Alexander Herman, Institute of Art and Law
Expert talks from the Institute of Art and Law never fail to absorb and engage UKRG members – and this session from Alexander Herman on Cornelius Gurlitt and the Munich Art Trove didn’t disappoint!
Members were captivated by Alexander’s account of the 1700+ artworks stashed in Gurlitt’s apartments in Schwabing and Salzburg, the subsequent seizure of works by the German authorities, the questions raised by this discovery and the inevitable ‘What happens next?’ following the owner’s recent death and the ticking time bomb that is Gurlitt’s bequest to the Kunstmuseum. Alexander considered, Why did it take so long for the trove to be discovered? Why did it take so long for the authorities to investigate? Is the son guilty for the father’s sins? Is it possible to demonstrate an absence of good faith in Cornelius Gurlitt? Faced with the prospect of being offered these works as a bequest, how would the Kunstmuseum deal with the task of completing due diligence for over 1700 ‘lost’ works, whether they’ve been looted, confiscated or purchased through a forced sale during the Second World War?
We’ll just have to wait until 26 November to find out the Kunstmuseum’s position on this tricky ethical and legal issue.
Latest copyright developments: new exceptions and orphan works
Naomi Korn, IP Consultant and Chair of the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance
The third and final instalment of the afternoon came from Naomi Corn, IP Consultant and Chair of the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance and delved into the complex and intricate subject of copyright.
Naomi described a current project she’s been working on as a consultant working with the Imperial War Museum on an unpublished text in their collection – Ethel Bilborough’s (?) diary, written during the Second World War. Through their efforts to publish the diary, Naomi followed a copyright trail leading from the author’s widow to the niece of the author’s widow’s second wife(!); demonstrating that obtaining the copyright of unpublished texts is no easy task! As the text also included illustrations by third parties, Naomi was also faced with tackling the difficult issue of unpublished ‘orphan works’ – where copyright owners are unknown or untraceable. Issues concerning orphan works are considered under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, which came into force in 1989; meaning that these works will be in copyright until 2039 at the earliest, regardless of how old the work is. This is particularly pertinent to Museums, Libraries and Archives, where much of the collection is unpublished. Where permission from the copyright holder cannot be obtained, licencing and reproduction rights can be requested from the Intellectual Property Office. Naomi encouraged Members to sign the petition organised by The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)’s Free Our History campaign ‘ calling on the UK Government to reduce the term of copyright protection in certain unpublished works from 31 December 2039 to the author’s lifetime plus 70 years, as per provisions laid out in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (ERRA) 2013.
Naomi’s talk was followed by an opportunity to attend the roll of honour and hear The Last Post in the moat of the Tower. Surrounded by the beautiful 888,241 ceramic poppies making up Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by Paul Cummins, this proved to be a poignant and moving experience to round off a thought-provoking and engaging afternoon.
Loans Officer, National Museums Scotland
Please see the event reports section of the UKRG website for an actual copy of the presentation provided by the speaker for this event.