Documenting collections since 1987
Newry and Mourne Museum, Northern Ireland
Newry and Mourne Museum in Northern Ireland, is a long-standing Modes User with a collections management team of three. Shane McGivern, the museum’s collections research assistant, tells us how Modes Complete has helped support the museum’s ongoing work.
How has Modes helped you in 2014?
Modes Complete was extremely useful for both staff and Museum visitors. For staff it has been a fantastic aid for guiding exhibitions. The Museum decides their exhibitions years in advance and having an easily searchable database in Modes enables us to very quickly see what in the Collection will be relevant. As the Museum runs two new temporary exhibitions a year, knowing what is in the Collection is of great importance. In 2014, one temporary exhibition looked at the local impacts of WW1, and the other looked at landownership in south-west Down.
In terms of visitors, as Modes allows the digitisation of collections, this has been a useful tool for opening access to documents without the visitor having to physically handle the original. This has two advantages, firstly it is good for the conservation of the original, and secondly it allows the user to look at details in a document much closer by zooming in. The guest user access for the public ensures that no data can be edited and also no private data such as donor name and address can be accessed.
As an Accredited Museum, what work is involved in the process?
The Museum has been Accredited since 2007 and in 2014 has once again retained this status. An important part of the Accreditation application is the conservation plan. This involves going through the entire Collection and assessing the condition of each item and also if it was a priority to be conserved. Modes was useful in this instance as a condition check is part of the cataloguing process. It simply makes the process easier.
What exhibitions do you have planned in 2015?
The Museum is currently working on an exhibition examining the development of local government, and will look at the major phases of this development in the Newry, south Armagh and south Down areas. It will start with the establishment of the Newry Town Commissioners in the early 19th century, the introduction of Urban and Rural District Councils in the 1890s, the setting up of Newry and Mourne District Council in 1973 to the reorganisation of local government in 2015.
Our second exhibition, called ‘The World has become Smaller: transport through the ages in Newry and Mourne’ Opens 28th May 2015.
The various types of transport which were important in the Newry and Mourne area from the prehistoric period up to the early 21st century including transport by sea, inland waterways, rail and road are examined in this exhibition. Imaginatively chosen documents, photographs and objects give this exhibition a strong reminiscence element.
Both of these exhibitions rely heavily on Modes to search for all items in the Collection that will be relevant for display. From this list of items the Curatorial staff can decide on how the exhibition can be laid out and it shows any gaps in the exhibition. These gaps can be filled by loans from other Museums or from the public.
Do you have any ‘top tips’ for getting the most out of Modes Complete?
When an item is donated to the Museum Collection, object entry details can be entered into Modes to create an object entry form, which looks exactly like those from the Collections Trust. This is useful as the data entered is typed and is therefore clearer for future users of the document. Added to this, the data from the object entry form can be used to generate a basic object record which makes the cataloguing much more efficient.
Have the Modes team helped you with support through 2014?
The Modes team have been absolutely fantastic. Richard and Nick are always available to answer any questions and work through any issues. Every time we have needed advice on the Modes system, the team always deliver.
You can read more about Newry and Mourne Museum in our news feature archive.
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