it sez ....has worked in archaeology full time since 1984 and is deeply committed to broadening participation and inspiring communities to use their historic environment resource in a positive fashion. oh and likes pots.

Eclectic day at Museum of London

As previously mentioned lots to do but scant little archaeology, is that a bad thing? Modern museums are becoming different beasts now a days. Today was actually one of those days with no appointments in the diary. So what the hell have I done today well looking at my email sent box reminds me.

A light touch concept document for a 2D display about Shakespeare but potentially morphs into the Great fire of London. Had a conversation about a bunch of skeletons from Greenwich had another conversation about another bunch of skeletons from Bromley. Had a little spate with the communications department about the number of tweets about a current exhibition, redeemed myself with them by proofing a press release, about the Gladiator Games, with precisely 33 minutes left until the deadline. Agreed to provide guidance and mentoring to a new archaeology graduate, (subtext: get out, get a proper job, or even broaden your experience range and volunteer…) Had anxiety about 1st quarter budgets. Spoke to a colleague in a local museum about what should be retained from a local archaeology society’s archive. Read correspondence from Society for Museum Archaeology committee members about the worrying situation in Surrey, whereby the County Society will be compelled to leave the local museum, and what a right mess that could make. Thought impure thoughts about how difficult to tell the assets apart, and then remembered that Surrey has a long term interest in South London i.e. historic Surrey….

When out at lunchtime for some holiday money, got soaked, drank tea and ate chocolate biscuits; good to have intangible heritage traditions like chocolate biscuits on a Friday.

It is an interesting time at MoL, we have distanced ourselves from field archaeology, and are in the throes of ambitious plans for the Smithfield central market site. So a ‘New Museum’ is not just about a new space, it is about a new way of working, a new approach to the personality of the Institution. Branding is not just about logos and typeface, it is about a reinvention of approach, so watch our web presence as we are in the middle of a summer season of thought provoking sessions about content provision, brand and audiences.

Hang on, what’s this email about checking the window frames are not about to fall out…

Day of Museum Archaeology

A day of archaeology, as previously eluded the world of Museum Archaeology inevitably takes you into other spheres. On the face of the Archaeology collections of the Museum of London, including the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC) and the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology (CHB) should be enough for any day. The job brings you into contact with a host of other related and not so related matters.

Recently we had sixty interns form Bloomberg to learn about Roman London and have after hours access to the gallery.  So perhaps the first question is why?  Bloomberg are the client for Museum of London Archaeology (MoLA) excavations in the Walbrook Valley, and although the excavations are largely complete its important to carry on the conversations with Bloomberg, and speaking to a group of interns puts this major MoLA programme and its place in a wider Roman London landscape into the minds of people some of which may be the first occupants of the new building.

This week we saw the retirement party for Cath Ross, the Director of Collections and Learning Division, that public archaeology is part of at the Museum of London. There was a fine ‘eat less protein’ cake, possibly instructions I will not be following.

The position of archaeology within a division that includes Learning is vital, we have close links to our learning colleagues, this year’s training and community excavation had a huge input from learning, and flourished as a result. The evaluation revealed very high level of satisfaction form both community and training excavation.

How could Day of Archaeology be complete without @adamcorsini running LAARC bingo at Eagle Wharf Road. Folk in the twittersphere call out shelf numbers, and Adam and others investigate and disseminate what is on the shelf in the world’s biggest archaeological archive. The results of the bingo can be seen here

It just under lines what a great job the LAARC staff do, they are not specialists in any of these material types, but know London archaeology and have a broad subject knowledge and can engage at the drop of a hat.

Onwards with what to do the CHB database, I guess you osteologists out there still want to see all this top quality data on line?

Not much real archaeology, but loads of stuff to do..

A Day of Archaeology at the curatorial side of the Museum of London

 The Department of Archaeological Collections and Archive, which includes the award London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC),  the curators of the early collections (up to 1714) and the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology.  It is a stressful and varied job, and sometimes a tad unsatisfactory as there is never enough time other than to skim over so many compelling things.

 The day started with e-mail on the train about getting resources in place for the London Archaeologist Association contribution to FoBA, then wrote a review about the Museum’s new iPhone app, feeling slightly aggrieved by a previous review on iTunes that said it was ‘unambitious’, felt the need to refute. As a lot of work has gone into getting the sponsorship and building it, then found out could not load my review because I have not downloaded the product, of course I still have the trial version, and now need to delete it and reload via iTunes, bummer, save that for home tonight as we not allowed iTunes at work. If you are iPhone or iPad enabled, do have a look, it’s a tip of the iceberg look at the Romans in London, it brings together content from the Museum of London Collections, the MoLA Londinium map, sparky little videos made by HISTORY floating on top of Google maps.

 The conditions are not great back of house at the Museum of London, heating and ventilation are poor, offices are cramped, although work is underway to improve the roof and insulation, but it was off putting to see another Head of Department spraying their armpits in advance of another steamy day. Me? I managed that before I left the bathroom this morning.

 Staff briefing meeting where, among other things, the separation of MoLA is spun and tempered by the Director telling us a little about ongoing commercial projects including Convoys Wharf and a site on Holborn that is a 16th century tavern and brewery. The Director also revealed a plan to build a mini Louvre-style glass pyramid within a void on the roof to create more office space, and apparently he travelled (in his own time) to Rwanda to name a gorilla.  He also said we would have no building works during the Olympics, …or leave (at the moment).

 Then sorted out a external enquiry about an identification of Post-Medieval earthenware vessel, curiously I thought it was North Devon Gravel-tempered ware, huge bits of gravel showing through the glaze.

 Correspondence with GLA about teaching classics and Latin in London schools, invitation to lunch at City Hall next week, the phrase ‘no such thing as free lunch’ running through my head.  Dealing with a request to borrow the Head of Mithras from Prof. Grimes excavations for an exhibition on the Livery companies, but the dates coincide with Londinium 2012, our Stories of the World exhibition, decide to consult with Junction the youth panel as co-curators of the exhibition.

 Trying to get my head around the Greater London Historic Environment Research Strategy, but actually mostly sorting out cock-ups with invoices to do with the project.

 Ensuring the catering is in place for the Finds Processing course being held at LAARC next week, great, a pile of receipts from M&S Lunch To Go to process.

 This afternoon meetings about how to fund Community Archaeology over the next three years, so cunning plans in the offing, although disappointed to have missed out on the CBA bursary scheme this week, is it because we are London? Or is it because I didn’t spend enough time on the application? Or a mixture of the two?  Then a super meeting about how to stop water getting into where we store excavated human bone, hoping it does not rain is not going to be a long term solution….

 Then bracing myself for a full on FOBA weekend, events at London Wall, and the Gladiator Games in Guildhall yard.  I think I get to spend quality time checking tickets and showing people to the seats, but it is a warm up to raising awareness about the forthcoming campaign to build new Roman Galleries at the Museum of London.

Roy Stephenson

Head of Archaeological Collections and Archive, Museum of London