Assessing collections

Nigel Larkin has recently undertaken a series of collection surveys for museums, mostly in the East of England. These include: Cromer Museum, Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life, Lynn Museum (Kings Lynn), Great Yarmouth Museums, Southwold Museum, Swaffham Museum, St Albans Museum Service, Hitchin Museum Resource Centre and Narborough Heritage Centre. Also, York Museums Trust.

These visits were to assess the various geology collections to produce a Collection Level Description in each case. Also, to advise on curatorial issues and remedial and preventive conservation strategies, quantifying and costing the various tasks required. This information enabled the curators to seek funding for specific prioritised projects - such as manually re-organising a disparate collection with the result that space was saved in a severely crowded storage area. Also identifying specimens, and numbering and labelling them and creating databases of the information.

At Narborough, Nigel worked with local volunteers (above) to clean hundreds of Ice Age specimens including horse, bison, wolf, woolly rhino and lots of Woolly mammoth.

For Dorset County Museum, Nigel undertook a conservation audit of the geological and palaeontological material in storage and on display, looking at every single specimen and recommending what action was required where necessary. This included discovering a worrying crack along the top of a wall-mounted ichthyosaur that weighed over 250 kg and had a history of pyrite decay issues - and was positioned above a public stairwell. Luckily, funding was found to dismount, investigate and treat the specimen. See

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