The principal aim of The Arts Society Heritage Volunteers is to aid the preservation of our national artistic heritage for the benefit of the public. The Volunteers give their time and skills freely, providing an invaluable resource in the core areas of ‘Collection Care’ and ‘Knowledge and Access’. The role of volunteers complements, but does not replace, that of paid staff. Collections need to be cared for and sometimes Curators don’t have the time to carry out necessary routine tasks such as dusting, cleaning, packing etc. They may be mundane or unglamorous but they are vital to ensuring the long-term preservation of our heritage and this in itself is rewarding.
Any members of The Arts Society Arun wishing to join the group should contact Pat Willcox using the Contact Us form.
The Covid 19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our volunteering activities and regrettably some projects have had to be delayed for a considerable time while our hosts recover from the consequences of all the lockdowns.
THE ‘BOOK TROUSER’ PROJECT
During lockdown it has been impossible for many heritage projects around the country to carry on, although there have been some inventive re-arrangements which you will have read about in the emails and magazine from The Arts Society. One project which has taken some time to get started is related to the preparation of the Parliamentary Archives collection for a move. All the unboxed volumes in the Victoria Tower require barcoding to identify them ahead of the move, but because of age, fragility, historic bindings etc. they cannot be barcoded directly onto the book. Therefore they asked The Arts Society Heritage Volunteers for help in preparing “Book Trousers”. These are made of special conservation-grade paper cut to shape which will be wrapped around the volumes to enable bar coding and referencing. This was work that could be done at home and then posted back to the archives so was considered a good “lockdown” project. Unfortunately members of the archives staff were not allowed into the archives during the third lockdown so couldn’t send out the materials, so it’s become more of an end of lockdown project. Heritage Volunteers from all around the country are taking part including three from our Society.
Our Heritage Volunteers have been working at the castle for many years under the direction of the Arundel Castle Archivist. In recent years the teams of 4 have cleaned the books in the library, identifying volumes needing attention or repair on the way. Work in the archive rooms has including the cleaning of seals going back hundreds of years, as well as the cleaning and repacking of Estates correspondence up to the 20th Century. A new project relating to the Deed Archive will be taken up again when the volunteers return to the castle which will be in the Spring of 2022.
Worthing Museum holds one of the largest museum costume collections in the country. A team of 3 Arun members were working in the costume department making covers for the collection. They then moved on to making padded Tyvek covers and calico infills, repacking and cataloguing the 800 pairs of shoes and boots in the shoe collection – one pair dating back to 1740. This enabled the shoes to be put on display with the minimum of handling. The project came to a successful conclusion at the beginning of 2020.