The Association of British Transport & Engineering Museums (ABTEM) is a network which exists to provide a forum for the discussion of matters of common interest to transport and engineering museums and to provide a means of representing their views on issues of national and regional concern. It was formed as the Association of British Transport Museums in 1962 and broadened its scope in 1989 by opening membership to museums having engineering exhibits, but not necessarily a transport collection. Membership of ABTEM currently numbers around 70, a mixture of institutional members including the National Railway Museum, National Tramway Museum, SS Great Britain, London Transport Museum and individual members with involvement in the sector.
Following the award of a Subject Specialist network grant by Arts Council in 2012 the association became the SSN for the transport and engineering sector and has made good progress with the assistance of funding. This funding also enabled ABTEM to provide support for the Motoring Collections SSN, a relationship which will continues. In 2016 the association joined with the STI (Science Technology & Industry) Subject Specialist network broadening its remit further.
2018 saw the completion of the biggest project undertaken by ABTEM – the updating of the Museums & Galleries Commission ‘Standards for the Care of Larger & Working Objects’ originally published in 1994.
Following the award of a grant of £47,645 from Arts Council England, the association worked with consultants IRHC to produced the new ‘Guidelines for the Care and Operation of Larger and Working Historic Objects’, published in February 2018. More information about the Guidelines can be found at http://www.abtemguidelines.org
Like many organisations, Covid-19 has severely limited the activities of ABTEM but planning is now taking place to hold a ‘virtual’ seminar in the spring – more information will be shared here soon!