Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Handling of Museum Pieces Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Dominic Dellavalle




Location: NJ
Joined: 24 Jan 2005

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Tue 30 Aug, 2005 7:00 am    Post subject: Handling of Museum Pieces         Reply with quote

Greetings everyone,

I have what I hope is a rather easy question to answer. How difficult or feasible is it for someone to be able to handle a museum piece? I'm sure that if I were an archaeologist or historian of some merit it would be a much easier task, but such is not the case. I am just a hobbyist with a love for the swords and armor of medieval Europe.

With the NY Metropolitan a short ride away I certainly have access to a museum that houses some fine pieces. I'm not even looking to handle something specific as much as have the opportunity to hold a piece of history, if only for a few moments.

As always any information provided is appreciated.
View user's profile Send private message
Thomas McDonald
myArmoury Alumni


myArmoury Alumni

Location: New Hampshire
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 2,160

PostPosted: Tue 30 Aug, 2005 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Dominic

I know a few members here have handled pieces at the Met !

If you call ahead and make arrangements to study a piece, or two, the Met will accomodate !
It helps if you know the catalogue number(s) of the piece(s) you wish to see !
(viewing display items has to be worked around the museums hours of public patronage, etc!)

Good luck, Mac

'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
XX ANDRIA XX FARARA XX
Mac's PictureTrail
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jesse Frank
Industry Professional



Location: Tallahassee, Fl
Joined: 04 May 2005

Posts: 144

PostPosted: Tue 30 Aug, 2005 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've heard that it's difficult to do in the states, the European ones are much more accommodating in that respect. I had talked with Vince Evans about that one time, and that's what he told me his experience has been.
http://jfmetalsmith.com/
View user's profile Send private message
Dominic Dellavalle




Location: NJ
Joined: 24 Jan 2005

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Tue 30 Aug, 2005 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Mac. I'll try contacting them and see what kind of feel I get when I call.

Seeing as I have no specific pieces in mind, do you happen to know how one would go about getting the catalogue numbers you mention? Is it as easy as going to the Met's website or will more involved then this?

As you say I'm sure it would help with setting something up.

Also for those here that have had the opportunity to visit and handle pieces at the Met or otherwise, do you know how adverse they are to photos? They would be for personal use and study/discussion only.
View user's profile Send private message
Russ Thomas
Industry Professional



Location: Telemark, Norway
Joined: 25 Jan 2004
Reading list: 43 books

Posts: 323

PostPosted: Tue 30 Aug, 2005 9:13 am    Post subject: handling museum objects..         Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm not even looking to handle something specific as much as have the opportunity to hold a piece of history, if only for a few moments.


That is the problem really, If you are a researcher, armourer, historian or whatever, then most museums will happilly allow you access to originals as and when they can fit you in. If you are someone simply ' wanting to hold a piece of history ', which many are, try an antique shop ! They have to separate the serious from the curious for obvious reasons. Plus to be fair to museums, most of them are seriously understaffed and simply do not have the staff to deal with the merely curious.
The only time I have ever been refused access to any original was by Canterbury Cathedral with the armour of the Black PrInce, ( the armour , it must be said is very difficult to get at . Hermetically sealed cases and all ! ), and even then they did allow me to handle the various elements that had become detatched over the years. Other than that I have never been refused and lucky me, I have handled handled two of King Henry VIII's armours, Charles I's armour and the great helm of King Henry V ! along with a whole host of other various armours residing in museums in the UK.
However, I have , whilst handling the ' Worcester' harness ( II.83, Greenwich , ca.1570 ), in the Tower, seen members of the public been refused access to the same pieces that I was holding. Fair enough, curators have an obligation to safeguard the objects in their care and that must mean unnecessary handling. But if you can convince them that you are not merely curious, then probably they will at least show you some items that are in store.
Possibly some of the smaller museums may be more accomodating, but then again some of them are extremely wary of the 'treasures' in their possession and may be even more difficult to get by ! Sad

Good luck Happy

Regards as ever,

Russ

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero !


http://www.living-history.no
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Gary Grzybek




Location: Stillwater N.J.
Joined: 25 Aug 2003

Posts: 559

PostPosted: Tue 30 Aug, 2005 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Access to museum collections is not always possible. As others have said, if you are someone with particular credentials it really helps. One of my associates was able to gain access to the arms collection at the Philly Art Museum and took quite a few measurements and other data. Now it seems the curator he made the arrangements with is gone and he's lost that connection. I've had the great privellage of handling about twelve fine originals, all of which are in private collections. I must say it was an amazing experience.
Gary Grzybek
ARMA Northern N.J.
www.armastudy.org
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Alexi Goranov
myArmoury Alumni


myArmoury Alumni

Location: San Francisco, CA
Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Reading list: 72 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,191

PostPosted: Tue 30 Aug, 2005 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to agree with Russ on this one.

Narrow your scope of pieces you want to study and declare a specific purpose (personal research for example).

I have been visiting the Higgins armoury museum and the folks have been EXTREMELY nice to me. Every piece I have requested (short of being on display or loan) has been laid out for my personal examination including a 10th-11th century viking sword.

I contacted them ahead of time and listed the kinds of items I was interested in examining (13th-14th century swords for example) and I got back a list of items with info and pictures form their archive (I cannot grantee that all curators will be as forthcoming). From the received list I selected 3-4 items that I requested for examination. I this this sort of research visits couple of times and they were very productive.

I will try to do the same thing with the NY Met when I know when I can visit the museum. The have several 14-15th c. swords (some not on display) that I'd love to get my hands on.

If you manage to arrange a visit with the MET, I'd love to hear about it.

You should not be afraid to contact them by e-mail or phone. The only way to be sure that you do not get a chance to examine an item is not to ask for it Happy

good luck,

Alexi
View user's profile Send private message
Dominic Dellavalle




Location: NJ
Joined: 24 Jan 2005

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Wed 31 Aug, 2005 5:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks again for all the info guys. Been a big help and given me some leads to follow. I'm going to give the Met a call either today or tomorrow (work permitting as always) and see what kind of response I get. While I mentioned I don't have a specific piece I would like to look at I can certainly narrow the scope down as you said Alexi.

Alexi, since you've had first hand experience, albeit at the Higgins not Met, were you able/allowed to photograph anything you handled or was that a off limits?
View user's profile Send private message
Thomas McDonald
myArmoury Alumni


myArmoury Alumni

Location: New Hampshire
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 2,160

PostPosted: Wed 31 Aug, 2005 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dominic Dellavalle wrote:
Thanks again for all the info guys. Been a big help and given me some leads to follow. I'm going to give the Met a call either today or tomorrow (work permitting as always) and see what kind of response I get. While I mentioned I don't have a specific piece I would like to look at I can certainly narrow the scope down as you said Alexi.

Alexi, since you've had first hand experience, albeit at the Higgins not Met, were you able/allowed to photograph anything you handled or was that a off limits?


Hi Dominic

I remember a post that Alexi did that had photos of the pieces he handled, so yes, photography is allowed !
I would imagine as long as it's for personal use, and is not going to be reprinted for profit, that alot of these museums are open to photography !
The Met allows photography, too, as I've shot alot of stuff there, as have others around the Forums here !
(although I've yet to go there with an appointment to handle specific pieces ).

Sometimes certain pieces are forbidden to be shot as they may be on loan and not part of the museums collection, etc!
Than there are the private museums, like Blair Castle, that will not allow photography, per order of the owner !
Alot of paintings & textiles are also a No Photography Allowed situation, as the camera's flash (light) can supposedly cause damage !

Usually, when in doubt, ask ! ( unless your bold & brazen like me and enjoy being scolded ;-) Mac

'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
XX ANDRIA XX FARARA XX
Mac's PictureTrail
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Erik D. Schmid




Location: St. Cloud, MN
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 80

PostPosted: Wed 31 Aug, 2005 2:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most museums allow photography in some form or another of pieces on display. Items in the reserve collections are a different matter though. If you are allowed to photograph these pieces, you will most likely have to sign a waiver stating that you will not publish these images in any format whatsoever. This includes putting them on the internet. The best thing to do is ask what the museum's policies are on photography.

The items in the reserve collection at the Met can only be photographed if you sign a waiver. If you are looking at the card catalogue you may be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement as well. The man to contact at the Met is Dirk Breiding. Please bear in mind that they are extremely busy with the upcoming Tibetan exhibit right now and may not have time to help you out. If you do go, make sure it is on a Monday as that is the day the museum is closed because then the staff have much more time to devote to serious scholars and enthusiasts.

http://www.erikds.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Alexi Goranov
myArmoury Alumni


myArmoury Alumni

Location: San Francisco, CA
Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Reading list: 72 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,191

PostPosted: Wed 31 Aug, 2005 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dominic Dellavalle wrote:
Thanks again for all the info guys. Been a big help and given me some leads to follow. I'm going to give the Met a call either today or tomorrow (work permitting as always) and see what kind of response I get. While I mentioned I don't have a specific piece I would like to look at I can certainly narrow the scope down as you said Alexi.

Alexi, since you've had first hand experience, albeit at the Higgins not Met, were you able/allowed to photograph anything you handled or was that a off limits?


I was allowed to photograph as much as I wanted including pieces not on display. I had acquired explicit permission to do so. Also any article featuring photographs from the museum was approved by the museum curators before publication.

Here is an example

There are few more articles like that currently awaiting production at myArmoury.com. I did have to sign waivers and what not but it was mostly for taking responsibility for any damage I may do to the objects while examining them.

Alexi
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2007 6:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just received this via email and have been asked to post it here.

Dirk Breiding wrote:
Dear Sirs,

A colleague pointed out to me that on one of your publicly accessible webpages (Discussion Forum - Handling of Museum Pieces", a member of yours advises other members to contact me in order to "handle pieces" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I am afraid that for various reasons, we cannot allow random people (no matter how interested or enthusiastic) to come into the museum to handle random pieces just so they can say "they have handled a piece of history"! We have a responsibility to guard and preserve these objects for future generations, and for that reason alone (apart from constraints on our time, research, and other projects) "handling" on a general basis can and will not be permitted. In exceptional cases -and entirely at our discretion-, we may allow the examination of specific objects by accredited scholars and researchers for a particular research project or publication, but -as stated- these are exceptions.

Accordingly, I must ask you to please either delete or edit said posting by your member. Alternatively, you may want to post this email (in its entire length and unedited only!) at the top of that discussion thread under the heading 'CORRECTION'.

Thank you for your cooperation,
Sincerely,

Dirk Breiding
Assistant Curator
Department of Arms & Armor
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,170

PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2007 9:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dominic Dellavalle wrote:
Thanks again for all the info guys. Been a big help and given me some leads to follow. I'm going to give the Met a call either today or tomorrow (work permitting as always) and see what kind of response I get. While I mentioned I don't have a specific piece I would like to look at I can certainly narrow the scope down as you said Alexi.

Alexi, since you've had first hand experience, albeit at the Higgins not Met, were you able/allowed to photograph anything you handled or was that a off limits?


Maybe a few visits to the Museum to collect information about what is on display first hand and maybe they have a catalogue of photographs of armour or arms or even a book(s) if they have a small bookstore/souvenir shop.

If you can narrow down to specific pieces or at least " types " you could then make a more focused request for what you wish to see or even handle ? Being well informed/documented can't hurt. Wink Just saying I would like to see " STUFF " is not going to make you sound like a serious student of historical arms or armour. Razz Laughing Out Loud

Oh, and looking at " stuff " at the Museum may help you as you should then find out what does attract your interest most !
Might even write for yourself specific questions you would like answered or what you would be trying to get a personal impression of by handling. ( Could even ask here what people would like to find out/questions about a specific piece ?

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,170

PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2007 9:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, I hadn't noticed that this was an older Topic thread. Eek!
You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Edelson




Location: New York
Joined: 14 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,032

PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2007 9:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
I just received this via email and have been asked to post it here.

Quote:
Dear Sirs,

A colleague pointed out to me that on one of your publicly accessible webpages (Discussion Forum - Handling of Museum Pieces", a member of yours advises other members to contact me in order to "handle pieces" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I am afraid that for various reasons, we cannot allow random people (no matter how interested or enthusiastic) to come into the museum to handle random pieces just so they can say "they have handled a piece of history"! We have a responsibility to guard and preserve these objects for future generations, and for that reason alone (apart from constraints on our time, research, and other projects) "handling" on a general basis can and will not be permitted. In exceptional cases -and entirely at our discretion-, we may allow the examination of specific objects by accredited scholars and researchers for a particular research project or publication, but -as stated- these are exceptions.

Accordingly, I must ask you to please either delete or edit said posting by your member. Alternatively, you may want to post this email (in its entire length and unedited only!) at the top of that discussion thread under the heading 'CORRECTION'.

Thank you for your cooperation,
Sincerely,

Dirk Breiding
Assistant Curator
Department of Arms & Armor
The Metropolitan Museum of Art


And herein lies the problem...

According the letter from Mr. Brieding, only "accredited' scholars will be permitted entry to the Met. The problem is, how many of us are acredited?

Let me put this another way...of all of the most knowledgeable people in our circles, how many of them are 'accredited' in the traditional sense?

And how is someone with a doctorate in history, art history or related discipline supposed to know how to evaluate a sword for balance, pivot points, harmonic properties, etc. unless that person is also a WMA scholar or at least has spent enough time in WMA circles to know that these things are important?

Not to long ago I sent them an email requesting permission to examine one or more antique swords. We at NYHFA have begun researching how the harmonic properties of swords affect their cutting ability. Specifically, in a discussion with Randal Graham, our curiousity was piqued about the potential existance of harmonically "dead" swords in medieval Europe (as opposed to Japan, where all swords are harmonically dead). I was hoping to be able to briefly examine a few period pieces to evaluate their harmonic properties to see if any of them are harmonically balanced in the way that Gus and TInker describe or if one or more of them might be harmonically dead. Our current theory is that "dead" swords are superior cutters, as less energy is lost in vibrations. Katanas certainly do seem to support this, as do the stiffer of our Western swords.

Unfortunately, I was given a polite brush off. After all, none of us are "accredited". Perhaps I will have more luck at Higgins Armory.

New York Historical Fencing Association
www.newyorklongsword.com

Byakkokan Dojo
http://newyorkbattodo.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,440

PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2007 9:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Grzybek wrote:
Access to museum collections is not always possible. As others have said, if you are someone with particular credentials it really helps. One of my associates was able to gain access to the arms collection at the Philly Art Museum and took quite a few measurements and other data. Now it seems the curator he made the arrangements with is gone and he's lost that connection. I've had the great privellage of handling about twelve fine originals, all of which are in private collections. I must say it was an amazing experience.


My only experience with originals has also been from private collections. I think people sometimes overlook collectors as resources. There is a robust community of people collecting only orginals,not reproductions. In my expereince if you can find a few of them and have genuine interest in their hobby, accesibility is a non-issue (once you establish trust).

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy


Last edited by Joe Fults on Sat 07 Apr, 2007 9:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,440

PostPosted: Sat 07 Apr, 2007 9:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perhaps lacking credentials, a good place to start might be doing some volunteer work at a local institution with an armor display if possible. Networking has to start someplace, and lacking an introduction to establish credibility, credentials serve as a mechanism to assign some level of trust when dealing with an unknown. Anything that helps with the transition from an unknown entity, to a known entity, has the potential to open doors.
"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
View user's profile Send private message
Andreas Auer




Location: Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria, Europe
Joined: 15 Dec 2006
Likes: 2 pages
Reading list: 11 books

Posts: 122

PostPosted: Thu 12 Apr, 2007 8:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hi folks...

try as we as a group did. we got in contact with the chief restaurator in "schloß Ambras" (castle ambras in innsbruck this is.) on the phone...got a meeting on a day with no public acsess. so he had time to get his belly holed with questions, and we saw thing we never had bevor...(i never knew they had slotted screws in the 15th...he promissed they are originals..he also showed us the "screwdriver" )...
...so asking for a special tour for really interrested people is never a problem i heard from several guides...

Greetings

Andreas
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Handling of Museum Pieces
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum