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Museum appeals for help to bring records into 21st century

PUBLISHED: 19:30 04 February 2019

Catherine Tournay with an old fire engine lamp  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Catherine Tournay with an old fire engine lamp Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Suffolk's Museum of East Anglian Life is appealing for volunteers to help an ambitious project documenting and photographing 40,000 artefacts to create one of the largest online museums in the country.

The Museum of East Anglian Life are currently undertaking a huge project documenting all of their items to an online museum  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Museum of East Anglian Life are currently undertaking a huge project documenting all of their items to an online museum Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The project is being carried out by the Stowmarket museum, which has already recruited volunteers from as far afield as the USA and Canada.

People can offer their services either at home or on-site and the museum is encouraging anyone who is able to help to lend a hand cataloguing the vast collection.

So far, photographers have only taken pictures of 120 of the 40,000 artefacts in the museum’s collection.

Museum curator Caitlin Peck said: “We have a big volunteer team but with the people we have we think the project could take four to five years.

Some of the team taking part in the documentation process   L-R Maria Child, Caitlin Peck, Lois Garrod-Smith, Jo Biggs, Susan Howlett, Catherine Tournay  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSome of the team taking part in the documentation process L-R Maria Child, Caitlin Peck, Lois Garrod-Smith, Jo Biggs, Susan Howlett, Catherine Tournay Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Our remote volunteers are going through records at home, transferring them to a new online system and picking out star items that they think would be particularly interesting to people.

“However, we don’t have enough people to help take photographs of the exhibits and that’s why we are starting our photography project.

“We need photographers to create high-quality images of our objects to illustrate the new online catalogue.

“We don’t actually know exactly how many objects we have so this will help us count them.“

A 1939 ARP (Air Raid Precautions) first aid kit which was identified as a star item by volunteers. Picture: MEATA 1939 ARP (Air Raid Precautions) first aid kit which was identified as a star item by volunteers. Picture: MEAT

One of the highlights is the first fire engine used in Stowmarket.

It is made from wood and was used following the famous Stowmarket guncotton explosion that killed 23 people.

Another star object picked out is a 1939 ARP (Air Raid Precautions) first aid kit, containing items such as bandages, slings and dressings, along with shell dressings and anti-gas ointment.

A wedding dress worn by a bride at Combs around 1912, made from linen with a silk train and lace trimming has also beenhighlighted by volunteers.

Heritage trainee, Lois Garood-Smith amongst the large items  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNHeritage trainee, Lois Garood-Smith amongst the large items Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Caitlin said: “We have some really interesting objects in storage that we want people to be able to access.

“Some people may be unable to travel across the county to come to the museum for various reasons so we want to make sure they can access our information from home. That’s why we are pushing this appeal across Suffolk to see if anyone would be willing to help.”

For more details go to the museum website.

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