Hazel Neill, the newest member of the Icon Scotland Group Committee, describes the group’s recent away day to Kelvin Hall in this week’s blog post….
A Glasgow institution, Kelvin Hall has been the setting for every conceivable cultural and sporting event since it first opened in 1927. It is entirely fitting therefore [its former purpose having been usurped by new facilities across the city] that it should be re-developed as a repository for collections from the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Museums and the National Library of Scotland, as well as retaining its services as a sporting centre.
Collections Manager, Lizzie O’Neill conducted Icon Scotland Group Committee on a tour of the facilities, during their annual away day on Wednesday 7th February 2017. She explained the diversity of the collections to be eventually housed there and the complexity of the planning and re-development of the building, particularly from a conservation standpoint.
Accessibility is a pivotal tenant of the re-development: a series of teaching, research and conservation labs will allow students to learn through direct access to the Hunterian collections whilst the general public can see object displays in the Collections Showcase, have free access to the Moving Image Archive and digital collections of the NLS and will eventually be able to tour the secure, storage areas.
To date, the Zoology collections are the first to be re-housed. Maggie Reilly, Curator of Zoology was working on Edwardian duck specimens as we came through. A fascinating conversation ensued on the history of the use of arsenic in taxidermy, the complexity of the classification of birds and the usefulness of the humble, plastic, bakery tray.
Alan Russell, Moving Image Archive Preservation/Technical Manager led us on a tour of the Telecine, Video Preservation and Digital Restoration Rooms. He discussed some of the machinery, both historic and modern, used to digitise the film, video and audio collections. Over forty years of video recording equipment, some more familiar than others, is preserved in working order to enable material to the played and digital copies taken. Alan explained the necessity of having to occasionally ‘bake’ tapes first to reverse sticky tape syndrome and allow them to be played and immediately copied. He also demonstrated the remarkable results of the digitisation of an early twentieth century ‘Kinora’ reel.
Many thanks to Lizzie O’Neill, Alan Russell and all at Kelvin Hall for a very successful ‘away day’ and a fascinating and informative tour.