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Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Jan, 2007 3:20 pm    Post subject: Handling antiques in a museum?         Reply with quote

Greetings everyone!

As you can easily figure out looking at many of my previous posts, I have been fascinated with the study of the balance of swords, and hand-held weapons in general, for quite a long time. At this stage of my studies, I think I would profit immensely from actual data measured on antique weapons.

The measurements I need are mainly of two sorts: geometry and mass distribution. The only ways I know of measuring mass distribution require handling. Light handling, that is, so nothing putting the object in danger. Just locating the center of gravity and a few pivot points.

Of course I could go on nagging everyone owning antiques to obtain measurements Happy, but as the saying goes, if you want a job done, do it yourself. Plus, I would be able to correlate my own perception of handling with the measurements I get, which in itself is valuable information.

Fortunately, I live just a few dozen miles away from the French Musée de l'Armée, which has one of the richest collection in Europe. I was especially thrilled when I last visited the museum, to see that they had a room called the Arsenal, which they present on their website as a "visible reserve", and which is indeed filled by plenty of swords and armour that were not deemed worthy of better display, but that would be perfect for me to measure. As an illustration, I attached a poor shot of some of those (sorry for the quality, I was zooming through a window, with light right in front of me, not the best conditions).

I'm quite sure I'm not the first person thinking of going into a museum to handle antiques (especially on these forums Wink ). I'm however completely unsure of how one should organize such things... And of how museums respond to such requests.

I'm not an art student, nor an historian. I do not have any professional interest in swords. I'm a hobbyist, and my only reason for my inquiry is in fact pure curiosity. I wonder if a museum lets anyone who asks enter, but I suspect it is no the case. I do however have a strong scientific background (starting a PhD), so I can detail my intended manipulations in depth, if need be. In fact, it's indeed possible that I use some applied mathematics methods (which is right in my field) to analyze the results.

So, I'm interested in members' experience about all this. Who did you contact? What reasons, if any, did you give? How did it go? What were you allowed to do? What did you bring with you (I'm thinking gloves are a good idea)? And of course if anyone was able to handle weapons from this exact museum...

Regards



 Attachment: 77.89 KB
arsenal.jpg
The Arsenal.

 Attachment: 35.68 KB
swordWall.jpg
A wall of the Arsenal, with many swords...

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Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Jan, 2007 3:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent,
As for what to do when you get there, check this out: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_eval.html . As for getting access, your success will depend on the organization. I would contact the curator and be straight-forward about who you are and what you want to do. If he says yes, then ask what you need to wear/bring/etc. Good luck!

Happy

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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Jan, 2007 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm. I wonder if Nathan Robinson has noticed the five schiavona in the second photo that Vincent posted? They look like a very nice group!
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 20 Jan, 2007 5:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Grisetti wrote:
Hmmm. I wonder if Nathan Robinson has noticed the five schiavona in the second photo that Vincent posted? They look like a very nice group!


Yes, yes, I did.

Sigh. Wink

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Shawn Shaw




Location: Boston, MA USA
Joined: 07 Jan 2006

Posts: 115

PostPosted: Sat 20 Jan, 2007 8:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I actually wanted to look at some of the pieces at The Higgins Armoury Museum, which is fairly close to where I live.

Does anyone know what their policies/procedures are for viewing/handling pieces of the collection?
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Sun 21 Jan, 2007 5:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaargh! That makes me wish the museums in my country weren't such pieces of crap. I'm planning to visit some of them and try asking if I could handle their collections, though--there were a couple where I spotted nice sets of old Dutch sabers and possibly spadroons.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 21 Jan, 2007 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shawn Shaw wrote:
I actually wanted to look at some of the pieces at The Higgins Armoury Museum, which is fairly close to where I live.

Does anyone know what their policies/procedures are for viewing/handling pieces of the collection?


In the past, they have allowed some people access. Please see Alexi's great profiles of items from their collection. Access will vary greatly by circumstance; the best course is to contact them directly.

Happy

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Colin F.




Location: Bradford, UK
Joined: 30 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sun 21 Jan, 2007 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal experience is limited to the Royal Armouries in Leeds. I was able to go into the stores to see what they had, but only concerning what I was studying, which was British troopers cavalry sabres/swords for my uni dissertation.

Anyways, the process there was that I went to introduce myself and explain what I was studying and why to those in the library that forms part of the armouries. Once that had been covered, I had to fill in two forms IIRC detailing what I had told them originally, so that my presence in stores would be formally recorded.

My presence in stores was also there with company, as obviously can't let people in to wander round on their own Wink Too much stuff to see in a place like that!!!!

The staff there were extremely helpful and generous with helping me with my work.

Melchett - "In short, a German spy is giving away every one of our battle plans."
Cpt. Darling - "You look surprised, Blackadder."
Edmund - "I cerainly am, sir. I didn't realise we had any battle plans."
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Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

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Posts: 843

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jan, 2007 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:

Steve Grisetti wrote:

Hmmm. I wonder if Nathan Robinson has noticed the five schiavona in the second photo that Vincent posted? They look like a very nice group!

Yes, yes, I did.

Sigh. Wink


Hehe Happy I sure will try to get a better picture of these next time!

Who knows, maybe I'll even get to handle them one day... *wanders in dreams*

Anyway, thanks everyone for the advice. And thanks to Chad for the article, I
had read it a while ago, but somehow forgot it was there...

Regards

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Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

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Posts: 918

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jan, 2007 6:45 am    Post subject: Re: Handling antiques in a museum?         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:
Greetings everyone!

As you can easily figure out looking at many of my previous posts, I have been fascinated with the study of the balance of swords, and hand-held weapons in general, for quite a long time. At this stage of my studies, I think I would profit immensely from actual data measured on antique weapons.

The measurements I need are mainly of two sorts: geometry and mass distribution. The only ways I know of measuring mass distribution require handling. Light handling, that is, so nothing putting the object in danger. Just locating the center of gravity and a few pivot points.

Of course I could go on nagging everyone owning antiques to obtain measurements Happy, but as the saying goes, if you want a job done, do it yourself. Plus, I would be able to correlate my own perception of handling with the measurements I get, which in itself is valuable information.

Fortunately, I live just a few dozen miles away from the French Musée de l'Armée, which has one of the richest collection in Europe. I was especially thrilled when I last visited the museum, to see that they had a room called the Arsenal, which they present on their website as a "visible reserve", and which is indeed filled by plenty of swords and armour that were not deemed worthy of better display, but that would be perfect for me to measure. As an illustration, I attached a poor shot of some of those (sorry for the quality, I was zooming through a window, with light right in front of me, not the best conditions).

I'm quite sure I'm not the first person thinking of going into a museum to handle antiques (especially on these forums Wink ). I'm however completely unsure of how one should organize such things... And of how museums respond to such requests.

I'm not an art student, nor an historian. I do not have any professional interest in swords. I'm a hobbyist, and my only reason for my inquiry is in fact pure curiosity. I wonder if a museum lets anyone who asks enter, but I suspect it is no the case. I do however have a strong scientific background (starting a PhD), so I can detail my intended manipulations in depth, if need be. In fact, it's indeed possible that I use some applied mathematics methods (which is right in my field) to analyze the results.

So, I'm interested in members' experience about all this. Who did you contact? What reasons, if any, did you give? How did it go? What were you allowed to do? What did you bring with you (I'm thinking gloves are a good idea)? And of course if anyone was able to handle weapons from this exact museum...

Regards


It shall depend on your country laws and regulations, plus you should add the Museum's policy to your equation.

I would write a beautiful letter on personalized paper, well written in good french and I would add surely a degree qualification if I could vaunt one.

An endorsing by one of your professors if you are a math student would just add a lot of weight.
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Colin F.




Location: Bradford, UK
Joined: 30 Oct 2005
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 134

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jan, 2007 11:33 am    Post subject: Re: Handling antiques in a museum?         Reply with quote

Bruno Giordan wrote:
It shall depend on your country laws and regulations, plus you should add the Museum's policy to your equation.

I would write a beautiful letter on personalized paper, well written in good french and I would add surely a degree qualification if I could vaunt one.

An endorsing by one of your professors if you are a math student would just add a lot of weight.


Ah the things I forget. I also had to write a covering letter, addressed to the head of the library detailing why I wished to go into the stores and look at the contents. As Bruno rightly pointed, an endorsement by your professor or a explanation of your work and how it fits in would be very useful to those at the museum.

Melchett - "In short, a German spy is giving away every one of our battle plans."
Cpt. Darling - "You look surprised, Blackadder."
Edmund - "I cerainly am, sir. I didn't realise we had any battle plans."
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