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30 Apr 2018

Bye-bye Reveal!

Written by Demi Boyd – Inventory Officer Team West
Silvia Scopa, Demi Boyd, Sarah Heaton and Brian McDonough at the Hill House
Silvia Scopa, Demi Boyd, Sarah Heaton and Brian McDonough at the Hill House
I joined Project Reveal as an Inventory Officer in summer last year. I am about to move on to a new role and would like to share my experience of this fantastic project before I leave.

I have been part of the Project Reveal West Team, which consists of two Inventory Officers, an Inventory Photographer and the Team Manager. We have eight Trust places in our remit: the Hill House, Moirlanich Longhouse, Pollok House, Holmwood, Greenbank House, Weaver’s Cottage, the Tenement House and Wester Kittochside at the National Museum of Rural Life. Our region is due to be completed in November 2018, but as I am now leaving the Project early I sadly will not be able to assist with the remaining properties.

I have previously worked for the National Trust for Scotland as a Visitor Services Assistant at Pollok House and the Tenement House, so this project has allowed me to get behind the scenes and learn more about the curatorial side of the Trust. As an Inventory Officer I have had the opportunity to work with a large variety of collections and gain an understanding of the Trust’s valuable conservation work. 

Two team members with a shovel
A shovel, the first object Team West inventoried at the Hill House
Demi checking the underside of a chair for an object number at Greenbank House
Demi checking for an object number at Greenbank House

The role of Project Reveal is to complete a full inventory and photography of the collections held at all Trust places. A typical day for me includes object handling, marking and labelling, measuring, writing descriptions, creating records on the collections management database and, from time to time, assisting the photographer.

Team West working together at Moirlanich Longhouse
Team West working together at Moirlanich Longhouse
Team West working together in the Education Room at the Tenement House
Team West working together in the Education Room at the Tenement House

Project Reveal involves a lot of problem solving with regards to how we approach the inventory at each place. We discuss where we can set up and work, and how we resolve number discrepancies using old and new catalogues. The Hill House was our first property and it was a great learning experience, as we had to sort out the various dinner services and distinguish between the original and replica sets of curtains.

One of the original Hill House curtains
One of the original Hill House curtains

It is incredible to work with the objects in situ; however, it has made for some unusual working conditions! We quickly became used to working in cramped spaces, in front of visitors and, depending on the property and time of year, in cold and dark rooms. The greatest contrast in places was between the Hill House and Moirlanich Longhouse – we went straight from a very busy property surrounded by Charles Rennie Mackintosh objects to a rural setting surrounded by agricultural collections.

Brian, Silvia and Demi working in the Library at the Hill House
Brian, Silvia and Demi working in the Library at the Hill House
Demi and Silvia working in the Barn at Moirlanich Longhouse
Demi and Silvia working in the Barn at Moirlanich Longhouse
Demi and Silvia keeping warm at Weaver’s Cottage
Demi and Silvia keeping warm at Weaver’s Cottage

When the properties are open to the public we also have the chance to engage with visitors, staff and volunteers. This is especially the case when we work in full sight as part of Conservation in Action, which has been very rewarding. Another great aspect of Project Reveal has been the opportunity to research and write articles about the collection items – these have deepened our general understanding and reached a much wider audience.

All of the places we have worked in for Project Reveal have been special; however, my personal favourites have been Weaver’s Cottage and the Tenement House. I loved working with the textile collection at Weaver’s Cottage, especially the tartan, and learning about the different plants in the garden that were used to make the dyes. The Tenement House holds a special place in my heart as my gran grew up in a tenement flat in the Gorbals – the Tenement House is one of the last authentic examples of Glasgow life in the early 20th century.

Tartan fabric samples in a box at Weaver's Cottage
Some of the tartan samples at Weaver’s Cottage
Demi and Silvia all wrapped up at the Tenement House
Demi and Silvia all wrapped up at the Tenement House

Overall, Project Reveal has given me the opportunity to work with a variety of collections, properties and people, as well as helping to improve my curatorial skills which I will take with me throughout my career. As we are a small team, I have developed a close relationship with my colleagues. I will miss them very much and wish them luck with their remaining properties of Holmwood, Pollok House and Wester Kittochside.

Team West in the Loom Room at Weaver’s Cottage
Team West in the Loom Room at Weaver’s Cottage

Project Reveal is a Trust-wide collections digitisation project. It will result in an updated database with high-quality images and unique object numbers for every item in the Trust material culture collections. Six regionally based project teams, supported by experienced project managers, will work across all our properties with collections to complete the inventory in 18 months from July 2017 until December 2018.

Project Reveal

Find out more about this Trust-wide collections digitisation project.

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