Exploring Emotion, Care, and Enthusiasm in “Unloved” Museum Collections

With contributions from academics and museum professionals, this edited volume explores the role of enthusiasm, creativity, and affection in the stewardship of “unloved” or under-appreciated museum collections and archives.


£90.00 ISBN-13: 9781641890557

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Alison Hess

Anna Woodham

Rhianedd Smith

Millions of items are held in museum collections around the world but many museums have very few visitors to their stored collections. These stored objects are certainly not neglected by their professional custodians, and they are loved with a great intensity by some curators and enthusiasts. However, for all but a tiny proportion of the population they have little or no personal meaning. This book goes beyond strategic discussions of access to stores, information enhancement, or collections rationalization and focuses on the emotional potential of these objects.
The authors explore how “care” for objects has varied over time and consider who cares for objects that are generally considered to be unsuitable for display and why they care. They also consider how inter-generational and inter-disciplinary dialogue can enhance or engender engagement with “unloved” collections and offer strategies and reflection on interpreting stored collections. This book will be essential reading for scholars, students, and professionals in museums, especially those concerned with curation and collections.


Introduction: Exploring Emotion, Care and Enthusiasm in “Unloved” Museum Collections
Section One: Enthusiasts and Care for Collections
Chapter One: Unlocking the Meanings of Collections: Expertise, care and the Science Museum’s locks and fastenings collection, Alison Hess
Chapter Two: “A hawk from a handsaw:” Investigating enthusiasm for rural hand tools, Rhianedd Smith
Chapter Three: What’s in a Name? The ethics of care and an “unloved” collection, Anna Woodham and Shane Kelleher
Section Two: “Unloved” Collections
Chapter Four: “Storehouses of unimagined treasures:” Delightful rummaging and artists’ responses to “unloved” collections, Alexandra Woodall
Chapter Five: No data, No Use? Changing use and valuation of natural history collections, Mark Carnall
Chapter Six: Getting to Grips with Medical Handling Collections: Medical Memories, Specialist Knowledge and Community Engagement Around “Unloved” Objects, Mark Macleod
Section Three: Emotional Research
Chapter Seven: Emotions and Lost Objects, Sheila Watson
Chapter Eight: Care-full Academic Labour: Encountering Care in Collections-Based Research, Francesca Church
With a foreword by Rhianedd Smith
Volume Conclusion: how to put a little love in your stored collection, Rhianedd Smith and Anna Woodham