10.10.2005 | what’s on
by RCAHMS, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
Early June 2005 saw 21 representatives of six UK icam member institutions come together in Scotland to discuss issues of mutual interest and to explore the potential for greater collaborative working. Participants included both institutions and individuals who cannot normally attend the icam international congresses. The first day was hosted by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland in Edinburgh and focussed on issues concerning the acquisition and curation of architectural collections. Discussion was stimulated by a series of short presentations that covered topics including the use of collections for family history research, the conservation of twentieth century drawings, and the curation of digital archives. It became clear that all icamUKI institutions are working towards widening the audience who use and know about their collections but that raised public expectation and demand requires careful management.
Two of the presentations clarified that there was scope for closer collaboration between conservators working on architectural papers, in order to share the results of their research. One of the issues that came out of a discussion on digital archives was the need to find ways to preserve the ‘look and feel’ of drawings when archived in digital media. The formal business of the day was followed by a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of the new Scottish Parliament, designed by the late Enric Miralles in collaboration with Scottish practice RMJM, and a convivial dinner in a Georgian former assembly hall on the fringe of Edinburgh’s New Town.
For the second day the meeting moved to Glasgow and The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Architecture Design and the City. A detailed tour of the Lighthouse building looked at the conversion by Page & Park Architects of a Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed newspaper headquarters. Formal discussion focussed around issues of education and outreach, with a series of brief presentations on the wide variety of work in this area being undertaken by the Lighthouse, RCAHMS, the National Monuments Record, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as a university research project building a biographical database of Scottish architects.
Again the issue of widening the audiences that use and understand architectural collections was raised, and the strong influence on this that comes from the bodies funding education work. Considerable debate took place on the different approaches to ‘virtual’ (online) and ‘real’ (in person) learning and engagement. For the former it was agreed that a collective portal to UK architectural archive resources merited further exploration while for the latter participants were inspired by plans by the RIBA and V&A to devise programmes that bring together the exploration of archive material with visits to the buildings depicted.
The two days were rounded off with broad agreement that a network of education staff from UK icam institutions should be formed to provide a basis for partnership working as well as mutual support and inspiration.
Rebecca M Bailey, Head of Education and Outreach – Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh