Friday, 3 May 2013

A Story of Museum's Model Collection, a Guild and a Community Success - Modelers Work Continues - Part 3

Lynn-Marie Richard, Registrar, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic Part 3 of 3

While work on the Franconia was underway, the shop on the 1st floor was still steaming along at full speed.  Some of the models they were working on included: a French Prisoner of War model from the 1700s made from beef and pork bones and a privateer schooner model that we had in our collection since the 1950’s in an unfinished state -  just to mention a couple. 
1) Restoring the 18th Century Prisoner of War Model

We were running out of ‘easy fixes’ for them to work on. After another museum reorganization and loss of more permanent museum staff, we thought it was time to revisit this partnership project with a new question:  Would we continue with the volunteer / museum partnership, or not? 
We worked hard to build this relationship and it was working so we really did not want to STOP, so we reviewed our options . After much discussion and head scratching we decided to proceed with ‘new builds’. This would give us the models we needed to fill the gaps in our collection and it would allow the model makers to continue doing what they loved, building models.
Now I am happy to report that we have more than 15 newly-constructed models and the volunteers have continued to clean and repair all newly donated models as they are acquired.  
We even have our very own RMS Titanic model which was unveiled to a huge crowd April 2012. This year (2013) we will unveil another model just as significant, it is a diorama model of the Halifax Dockyard as it was in the War of 1812.
2) The museum's new volunteer-built RMS Titanic model

To date the model volunteers have clocked over 30,000 + hours by a dozen or so very dedicated and talented men.   
Today, in 2013 we still consider this project very much a success. Our models are now the part of our collection that we are the most proud of because they in the best shape ever!!!
Yes, there were a few bumps we had to overcome.  This program takes a lot of time from our core duties,  but we feel it is a well worth it and definitely a program we are proud of and like to boast about.  So if anyone out there is thinking of starting a volunteer program,  we would be happy to share our experiences.  
We all win. The museum wins because we get our model collection conserved, the modelers win because they get to do what they love, work on models,  and the public wins because they get to see the work being done first hand and get to enjoy the company and wisdom that these men have to offer.  As one of the model makers told me, “the old gal wins too, cuz she gets rid of me for the day!”

Oh yeah, the conference in Edinburgh.   It too was a success and my paper a big WIN, as I had several inquiries and much interest in our program.  While there, I took the opportunity to visit four local museums and meet curators who took me behind the scenes to look at their collections and the use of volunteers.  Although a huge pond separates us, we have many commonalities in our ever changing work forces, volunteers are becoming increasingly more important.

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