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The View from Here - Landscape Photography from the National Galleries of Scotland

Jennifer Lightbody - Cohort visit to National Galleries of Scotland

Jennifer Lightbody, Outreach and Engagement Trainee, Glasgow City Archives

16th December was spent in Edinburgh, at the National Galleries of Scotland.

In the morning the trainees visited the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Archive at Mod 2, where Kirstie gave us a comprehensive tour of the building and told us about its history as an orphanage.  This gave an insight into the challenges associated with working in a building not specifically designed as an archive.

The reading room was set out for us with a selection of holdings, showcasing some of the Sir Roland Penrose Collection, including correspondence with Picasso.  Particularly popular was the Tauba Auerback volume [2,3], revealing a series of 3D structures when opened and appealing to my mathematical brain!  It highlighted for me the difference between archive holdings in different organisations as it was so unlike the documents I work with at Glasgow City Archives.

Kirstie showed us the Keiler Library, a storage and exhibition space.  This currently houses the Ian Fleming Christmas card collection, which we all loved!  This collection was also a useful discussion point on how to arrange a display, which will be useful to us for future projects.  The Paolozzi studio has been recreated to reflect the artist’s studio, housing a vast collection with its own challenges for maintenance and cleaning!

The visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in the afternoon showcased the digitisation project, with the three trainees there demonstrating the photographic set up and processes involved in digitising thousands of works.  The introduction to the Kardex storage and retrieval system was interesting as I hadn’t come across one before and showed best use of space while protecting the documents held there.

Conservator Charlotte then gave a tour of The View from Here photographic exhibition and explained the factors which have to be taken into consideration when selecting and preparing items for display.

For me it was a really useful visit to see an organisation very different from my own, and understand how to display items to best effect, whilst caring for them.  Many thanks to the staff and trainees at NGS for hosting us.