The National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu has won the 2017 Collections Trust Award for its Keep CALM and STEAM Ahead project. The award recognises the achievements of those who manage museum collections – the teams who are often behind the scenes and whose work can go unnoticed.
This year the award celebrates projects that show what can be achieved when the governing body, staff and volunteers in a museum work collaboratively to tackle a collections management challenge. With the theme of Pulling Together, the award comes with a prize of £2,000 for the first time this year.
Generously funded by the Arts Council England Designation Development Fund, the Keep CALM project began in July 2016 and concludes in March 2018. It has provided a much-needed opportunity for the National Motor Museum to focus on aspects of stewardship, which had become a priority. Importantly, the project has been devised to create impact beyond collections management, providing new opportunities for people to engage with the collections, including activities for families, schools and colleges.
Keep CALM has extended the use of the museum’s CALM collections management system and supported review and research on under-used parts of the collections. Improved documentation has enhanced collaboration between collections and strengthened team-working. Unlocking information and encouraging working across departments is supporting the development of new initiatives for visitors to Beaulieu. The project is building on the Museum’s Education Service by generating new programmes linked to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in response to National Curriculum changes.
A creative take on STEAM has also been adopted, using the newly researched and recorded material to inspire a range of lively Automotive Steampunk-themed activities, which explore the collections in imaginative ways. Students from the Costume and Performance Design course at the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) researched key cars and collections material to inspire the creation of nine Automotive Steampunk costumes. These striking costumes, which were on display in the museum until recently, have been viewed by thousands of visitors who were also able to dress up in Steampunk style with special clothing provided for photo opportunities. The project has also enabled the museum to make connections with the wonderfully creative Portsmouth And Southampton Time-travelling Steampunks (PASTS) group.
Andrea Bishop, Director of Collections at the National Motor Museum, said:
“The Keep CALM project has been aptly named, since it has challenged us to change the way we work and manage collections behind the scenes, standardising practice to improve exchange of ideas and information. We are now beginning to see the benefits of that legacy for our audiences and I am grateful to Arts Council England for having confidence in the value of this project for the museum and its users.”
To find out more about the Keep CALM and STEAM Ahead project, see http://www.nationalmotormuseum.org.uk/ACE_funding.