I never really had an "Egyptology" stage as a kid, despite always being interested in history and archaeology, but I certainly understand why it has an enduring mass appeal.
A few weeks ago I went to the Tutankamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh exhibition at Saachi Gallery, because my travelling companion wanted a gander, and I figured that it would be interesting to see some very unique items, and also to see how the exhibition itself measured to the hype.
Oh there is hype. This is absolutely a "blockbuster" exhibition, proudly trumpeting in it's sales copy the record-breaking volume of visitors in other countries, and stressing the likelihood of tickets selling out.
I decided that rather than try to compile my thoughts into a review afterward (which would mean, realistically, I'd never get round to it), I'd drop a few live tweets to capture my thoughts and feelings as I went round.
Here are the compiled tweets in one spot for you!
The Exhibition continues in London to Sunday 3rd May 2020.
This was a thing of beauty.
They stood, seemingly engrossed in the details of the famous painting.
Entranced it appeared.
Staring in silence.
And then this.
Huge respect to the various arts and crafts events organisers making the most of making things without much to start off with.
When I read about this, I instantly had a flashback to a similar an instance with a teacher and a full class of 30 kids, which I may now be tempted to render in cartoon....
This is absolutely, utterly, not a dig at the many thousands of volunteers without whom so many venues and services wouldn't be able to remain open and functioning.
This is a conglomerate of the tales I have been told where volunteer staffing has increased, and the existing paid staff have suffered with mismanaged hand overs, miscommunication and outright false promises.
Paid staff with years of expertise, experience, stores of knowledge, thousands of pounds of education, seeing their positions packaged into chunks and those chunks handed over to volunteers (some of whom also posses all those qualities, yet can't get paid work) until they are left staffing tills, cleaning, and providing security detail. Paid staff reassuringly told that "we won't be replacing you, you will still have a job!" and slowly finding that their role now only features the tasks that managers can't attract volunteers to.
Yes, many venues need the voluntary help, but it has to be properly, honestly, decently managed.
It’s been a bit quiet around here, and I feel it’s worth explaining, rather than just letting the dust gather.
The reasons are threefold really.
I’m told less and less about the fantastic kids a FOH worker dealt with, or the comedic actions of colleagues, and more and more about the frustrations. The sad side of staff feeling undervalued, overworked and under-resourced by an increasingly financially squeezed workplace. Or outright redundant, and now scrabbling for one of the few paid roles remaining.
When looking for advice and support online about recording a collection, and creating accompanying documentation, from almost scratch:
Most Sources: Hire a trained Archivist.
Me: Do you think I'd be searching the internet if that was an option?
If you're looking for a small local history museum, perfectly set up to bring in the locals, and inform the casual visitor, by golly Banbury Museum seems to be on form.
I took a short walk along the Oxford canal from Banbury train station, and just as I was starting to mentally grumble at the modern shopping centre unceremoniously dumped beside the canal, I found the museum café entrance. At this point I gave my grumble a quick realign, as there seems to have been a lot of thought put into making the museum an easily reached and enticing prospect for passers by, including the museum gift shop actually being inside the shopping centre. The building being packed with excited families, ambling couples, brunch munching OAPs and tea sipping dog walkers, the intentions seem to work.
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