By Moya Sherriff, Intern, Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre
Over the course of this month, a couple of groups moved some additional large objects into the Recovery Centre. Some of these items, such as the pews, altar and other precious fixtures from the Nurses’ Memorial Chapel, do not quite fit the mould of ‘museum artefacts’. For example, the Chapel’s Carpet Runner will eventually be used for its original intended purpose – to be walked on – unlike most museum objects which are officially ‘retired’. As it is part of the cultural fabric of Canterbury, members from this group are still providing the highest possible care for the carpet while it takes a break in storage. (For more information on this fabulous object check out http://www.cnmc.org.nz/chapelrunner.htm)
Covering the Chapel’s Carpet Runner with Tyvek in preparation for storage
On a Saturday afternoon, Matthew O’Sullivan (Keeper of Photographs at the Air Force Museum) came over to chat with members from groups both inside and outside the Recovery Centre. He spoke about how to take photographs of objects and we had an overwhelming response with up to 20 people attending this casual event.
Members from St John prepare a jacket for photographing
Some of the key things Matthew brought up were:
- When using your digital camera, take pictures at the highest resolution the camera will allow, as you can always decrease the file size later on. If possible it is best to take one good image that can be used for publication and as a catalogue picture.
- Remember light causes damage to collections, therefore it is best to avoid unnecessary or prolonged light exposure to artefacts.
- Use a blank background.
- Think about the composition, make sure you get all of the artefact in the centre of the picture with a blank area surrounding it. Get the camera parallel with flat objects so you don’t get any warped edges (this applies especially to framed objects).
- Begin with an overall shot and shoot enough photos of the object so there is an accurate record of all the item’s identifying or unique features.
- If possible, pictures of the item should be composed to give a sense of its natural state, for example a leather flying helmet is best photographed on a mannequin’s head.
- Be sure to include shots of any engravings that may be used as evidence for security and insurance purposes (e.g. firearms or jewellery).
- Lastly of course, think about how you are going to name, store and backup these digital files.
As the formal internship is drawing to a close, I wish to thank all those individuals and groups who have supported the Recovery Centre over the past year. I’d especially like to thank National Services Te Paerangi, Friends of Te Papa, OMV, Canterbury Community Trust (through Canterbury Museum) and the Air Force Museum Trust Board for their continued support to allow the extension of my newly re-titled ‘Administrator’ role until the end of 2015.
Moya Sherriff – CCCRC Intern
Images: All images courtesy of Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre.
Other posts by Moya:
Diary of the CCCRC intern – month 2