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Putting people first – ‘Pulling Together’ with Collections Trust

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This year’s Collections Trust Conference ventured out of the capital and travelled up to historic York.It took place in the 14th century Hospitium, a stunning timber-framed medieval building which stands within the picturesque Yorkshire Museum Gardens by the banks of the River Ouse.

York Hospitium. Photograph Nick Pearce-Smith

Pictured: The Hospitium, York Museum Gardens

An ideal setting for the conference - this exquisite building was originally part of the nearby St Mary’s Abbey and as the name suggests was used for hospitality purposes and the housing of guests.

It was smiles all round at the Collections Trust Conference for two lucky Modes users who won tickets for the opportunity to attend the event, courtesy of the Modes Users Association.

Pictured: David Harman (London Bus Museum, Brooklands) and Mirren Harper (Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond) with Nick (Modes)

 Modes Sponsored Delegates at the 2017 Collections Trust Conference

Our two Modes sponsored delegates, Mirren and David, heard from a variety of speakers discussing topics underpinned by the conference’s ‘Pulling Together’ theme. The conference looked at the human element of documentation systems and discussed the importance of ‘Pulling Together’- whatever your role - in collections management, emphasising the idea that the power behind collections is people.

Speakers addressed issues ranging from how to get the best from volunteer staff, to looking at how to plan for an emergency.

Dr Eve Poole, from the Ashridge Business School gave an inspiring speech about leadership and power within the workplace. She stressed that managers must first identify their own weaknesses and confront them to better manage their teams and to confront the challenges ahead. She also discussed the craft of ‘people-wrangling;’ building our skills to get things done using influence and charm.

Philip Claris, Head of Collections Management for the National Trust detailed how the Trust is applying Accreditation Standards as a ‘thread of quality’ running through its diverse collections and its indispensable body of volunteers.

Dan Hudachek described how involving ‘front-of- house’ staff and volunteers in collections management work at Beamish Museum has led to better understanding of ‘back of house’ activities and communication with visitors. You can have a look at the activities of these hard-working Modes users by visiting the Beamish Museum website.

Later in the day Dan received a commendation for the museum’s ‘Remaking Beamish’ project along with the Grant Museum of Zoology which also won a commendation for its ‘Whale Weekender.’

Anne Lord from Colne Valley Museum described the problems and rewards of working together in a museum run entirely by volunteers. Since volunteers only come to work because they want to be there – the museum needs to remain an appealing option.

Later that afternoon we heard a fascinating account of the teamwork which enabled the Jorvik Viking Centre to recover from the devastation caused by the floods of 2015. No doubt, all the collections managers in the audience were prompted to review their own disaster planning.

Staff from the Science Museum Group offered strategies for successfully tackling a backlog by suggesting it was viewed as an ‘opportunity to give added value’ to collections by uncovering forgotten objects and stories. They encouraged everyone in the museum to ‘buy into’ the value of this work so often considered ‘low priority.’


Changing Perceptions slide at CT's 2017 Conference

Picture: The elephant in the room: A slide from ‘Tackling the Dreaded Backlog.’

The presentations certainly fuelled some ideas for delegates to take back to the workplace.

The winner of the 2017 Collections Trust Award was announced by Kevin Gosling, Chief Executive of Collections Trust. In keeping with the theme of the conference, this year’s award recognised projects which demonstrated what can be accomplished when everyone in a museum – whatever their position within the organisation - works together to tackle a collections management challenge.

The National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, Hampshire won the Collections Trust Award for its ‘Keep Calm and STEAM Ahead’ project which gained them a very useful £2,000 to spend on an agreed collections management activity. Congratulations!

It wouldn’t be a Collections Trust Conference if SPECTRUMwasn’t part of the action – and this year was no exception! The conference finished off with drinks to celebrate the launch of the latest update to the U.K. collection management standard, the hotly anticipated Spectrum 5.0. So, it’s official; Spectrum 5.0 is now the collections management standard!

Spectrum 5 launch at CT Conference 2017 

Pictured: Kevin Gosling raises a glass to celebrate the launch of Spectrum 5.0.

As a SPECTRUM partner, Modes understands the importance of ‘Pulling Together.’ Collections management and the supporting technology (Modes software) relies upon the people who operate the technology, understanding and applying the standards. Cheers! to you Modes users!


Reminder - Modes Annual Workshop and AGM

Don’t forget that Kevin Gosling, CEO of Collections Trust will also be a speaker at the Modes Annual Workshop and AGM on Tuesday 3rd October at Derby Museum and Art Gallery. We expect to hear all about what’s new and improved with Spectrum 5.0. from him as well as celebrating 30 years of Modes! There are still a few places available and it’s FREE – so REGISTER NOW and join us for a day of collections insights.  Email: or Telephone: 01332 742552.


The Modes Workshop and AGM itinerary is as follows:

  • Meet Kevin Gosling – CEO of Collections Trust
  • Spectrum 5 – meeting the new standards
  • Knowledge Café – Sharing ideas and skills about Modes
  • Practical session – working with Grids as a reporting tool and for refining your records.


Registration starts at 10am, Welcome at 10.30am, Lunch at 12.30pm, AGM at 1.15pm and Finish at 4pm. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

*Please let us know of any special dietary requirements when booking.

Booking is essential, so get in touch – we’d love to see you there!



Getting there:

More information can be found on Derby Museum and Art Gallery’s website


The nearest off-site car park is Parksafe on Bold Lane, 50 metres from the museum, which has 350 daytime spaces. There is a charge of £4.40 for up to 4 hours. There are 11 Blue Badge parking spaces available free of charge. This car park is open twenty-four hours a day.


With a direct train from London to Derby, you can be at the museum in less than 2 hours.


There are frequent bus services into the city centre, operated by Trent Barton and Arriva. Derby Bus Station is a short walk.


There are bicycle racks outside the museum entrance on The Strand.


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