The Wedgewood collection

SSN created for corporate collections

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 09.11.2016
Group to share knowledge and discuss common issues
A Subject Specialist Network (SSN) is to be created for corporate collections in order to address the challenges unique to museums that are owned and managed by companies.

At a meeting earlier this month, representatives from a wide range of corporate collections, including those of banks, retailers and designers, agreed that there was a “desperate need” for a network to share their knowledge and discuss the issues they had in common.

Some of the issues identified at the meeting included finding a voice within a larger parent organisation, increasing the public benefit of collections, intellectual property rights, the dichotomy of working across both corporate and charitable spaces, and the difficulty of attracting funding.

Other governance and ethical questions specific to corporate collections will also be addressed by the network.

Rowan Brown, the director of the Alfred Gillett Trust and one of the founders of the network, said: “Anybody is welcome to join. We’re particularly keen and sensitive not to step on the toes of other SSNs – this is not so much a subject specialist group as a governance network. We want to look at how we advocate on behalf of these collections and where they sit in the wider heritage sector.”

Many corporate collections had valuable insights to offer into social history but were not on public view, said Brown.

“There’s a lot that could be garnered into the public domain,” she said. “We need to make the case within our collections as to what public benefit they can offer so they’re looked on by funders in a slightly different way.”

A Jiscmail account is being set up to distribute information about the network, with another meeting planned in spring.

Those interested in joining should email to find out more.