BA Hons 1988 and PhD 1998 at University of Sydney; Keeper of Collections/Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, London, since 2005.

Meetings, Musings and misplaced virtue

Here is me hugging a pot from the collections

Here is me hugging a pot from the collections

I’m Keeper of Collections at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, a job I juggle with my role here as a lecturer and Near Eastern archaeology specialist. This can make my day-to-day tasks both varied and unpredictable, as no matter what the diary says, you can never tell what you might be called on to do.

Some objects from the Institute of Archaeology Collections - how lucky am I to work here?

Some objects from the Institute of Archaeology Collections – how lucky am I to work here?

My day begins in soggy London Town, striding across a string of parks in my daily walk from Holborn to the Institute in Gordon Square. Today I’m wielding my second best umbrella, after a disastrous gust of wind demolished my rather fine Book of the Dead parasol yesterday. There’s a brief encounter with a former colleague en-route, during which we admire each other’s rain protection gear, then I arrive to see what the day holds. (more…)

All change please! Acid-free tray renewal makes an old curator very happy

My name’s Rachael Sparks, and I’m Keeper of the Institute of Archaeology Collections at University College London. My role here is document and manage our collections, deal with queries and visiting researchers, provide objects for classes, and manage our small army of volunteers, in between teaching, marking, supervising postgraduate work, fielding ethics queries from our students and doing my own research. And whatever else is required. (more…)

Tours, Tatty Bags & Bits in Boxes

Showing my visitor around the stores. I’m the one wearing the attractive ID card jewellery.

I’m a lecturer and Keeper of Collections at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. At this time of year, teaching has finished and our students have started to wander off to do fieldwork or work on their dissertations (or at least that’s what they tell us). Things tend to calm down a bit as a result, and we get a chance to wrap up the last bits of marking and turn to our own research projects. For me, this often means a chance to work on sorting out problems on the collections side of things, although we usually see a steady stream of visiting researchers through the summer, as they exploit their own semester breaks.

For today, my main concern is finishing off some postgraduate marking, but already I’ve a couple of other things booked that might distract me from that for a while. We’ll see how it pans out. (more…)

Managing the Monster

I’m Keeper of Collections at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, in London. The collection was founded back in 1937, and has over 80,000 objects from all around the world, with a sum total of two staff to manage the monster. Mine is an academic post, so I’m expected to combine teaching duties with museum work. My day is often an eclectic mix of activities – with my lecturer’s hat on I might be writing or giving lectures, marking, meeting with students, reviewing chapters my doctoral students have drafted, revising course handbooks, attending meetings or writing papers. But with my museum hat on I might be getting objects ready for other people’s handling sessions, cataloguing backlog material in the collections, updating our databases, writing a blog post for the collections, fielding research queries, supervising visiting researchers or finding jobs for my volunteers. I never really know what the day is going to throw at me, and when I do make plans I often find they get overturned the minute I get to my desk.

Today I have four researchers booked to visit the collections, so I’m hoping this will give me some free time to work on other things. But we shall see … (more…)