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Monday, July 11, 2011

British Museum Archives

The British Museum is huge and holds such valuable pieces inside of it such as the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, Egyptian antiquities, and many others. In addition to these items which are known around the world, the museum also used to house the British Library; the round reading room still exists today.

For our tour, we met with Stephanie Clarke, the museums one and only Archivist, ever! This was an interesting fact to learn about the museum. Being such a large museum with a huge collection, one would have thought many archivists would be needed. During our tour with Ms. Clarke, we learned about the history of the collection; what is contained and housed in the archives, some of the history of the museum and library, and some notable library users.

The archives of the British Museum hold a lot of interesting items; some more intriguing than others.  Ms. Clarke explained that the archives contain finance, staff, and building records, a long with some records from the British Library which include library applications for use and for jobs. As part of our tour, we were able to look at the records and read applications from notable people such as Beatrix Potter, Bram Stoker, and even Karl Marx.

Meeting with the archivist was an exciting experience; it was the first archive visit of the trip and I must say it was very interesting. While the job of an archivist is similar to that of a librarian, it is very different as well. Ms. Clarke also explained to us that digital records for the archives are not being pursued at the moment, which was very interesting to me. In a museum with vast amounts of knowledge at its fingertips, funding and budget cuts are also affecting them and the public. Overall, I truly enjoyed my tour of the archives along with my visit to the museum after!

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