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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

 

Table knives
19th or 20th century
Provenance unknown
TEMP.01829, TEMP.01830 & TEMP.01831


"I am intrigued by the boxes of objects we know nothing about. Some have lost any identifying information; many were never formally entered into the museum. With only 15 minutes per object, we do the best we can, preparing the groundwork so that their identities can eventually be restored."

- Veronika Lorenser


No time to waste

As Move Manager for the Stores Move project, I get to see the big picture as well as the finer details. It's very rewarding to see boxes pulled from the shelf, prepared for transport and finally installed at the Centre for Material Culture. I am proud to be part of such a dedicated team. 

Opening a new box is always exciting. The Collections Assistants (CAs) carefully unpack each object, check it against the box list and begin processing. They reflect on the last person who may have cared for this object, maybe months or decades before. Sometimes they find objects which have been noted as missing for years, and sometimes they are the first to note that an object is not where it claims to be.

 

Each object is carefully assessed for hazards (e.g. poisons, pesticides or mould) and damage (mechanical or pest-related). Months of specialised training provide the Case with the skills necessary to deal with these issues quickly and safely. Hazards are recorded on the database and recommendations made for future handling. Objects are measured, described, and photographed before being packed. Each CA has developed their own unique packing technique and they can often recognise each other's work on sight!

This process holds true for objects which have lost their histories, too, such as these knives. Occasionally they have labels or markings which give us a clue to their identity. Sometimes, though, all we can do is give them a presence on the database where we can begin to gather data. By the end of the project, the CAs will have seen more of what this museum has to offer than anyone else. And within their 15 minutes "quality time" per object, they might even be able to solve some of the mysteries they've uncovered.

Explore these objects further:

https://collections.maa.cam.ac.uk/objects/587313/

https://collections.maa.cam.ac.uk/objects/587314/

https://collections.maa.cam.ac.uk/objects/587315/

Explore the full collections database:

https://collections.maa.cam.ac.uk


Veronika Lorenser - Move Manager (Stores Move)

 

Veronika is an Art Historian (BA, MA) with a background in exhibitions, risk and collections management. In her role as Move Manager she is responsible for managing the Stores Move Project (2022-2025), supporting its brilliant team of nine Collections Assistants, a Workshop Technician and the Collections Team Coordinator.

Before coming to Cambridge she worked as Collections Manager and Assistant to the Chair at the Department of European Decorative Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago, and as Registrar at the Leopold Museum, Vienna. 

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.