вход по аккаунту

код для вставкиСкачать
Enhancing the learning and
teaching potential of samian ware:
Recent work on Durham University’s
Oswald-Plicque collection
Robin Skeates
The Oswald-Plicque collection
• The Oswald-Plicque
collection was the personal
samian collection of Dr. Felix
• This collection was acquired
by Professor Eric Birley for
Durham University in 1950.
• It is now housed in Durham
University’s Old Fulling Mill
Museum of Archaeology.
The collection today: artefacts
The main part of the collection comprises:
64 boxes containing nearly 5000
sherds of decorated figured samian
from large bowls.
10% is South Gaulish material, mostly
acquired by Dr. Felix Oswald from
Roman London and annotated by him
in great detail.
The other 90% comprises Oswald’s
section of the Plicque Collection
acquired sometime between 1931 and
1936 from Mme. Plicque, the widow of
Dr Alfred-Edward Plicque. This
contains Central Gaulish samian of the
2nd century, from both the production
site of Les Martres-de-Veyre on the
Allier, and from Dr. Plicque’s late 19th
century excavations at Lezoux.
Anchor Potter
The collection today: archive
8 boxes of unsorted pottery
sherds, labelled by codes, but
lacking index cards or other
6 boxes of plaster casts of some
of a lost collection of moulds,
accompanied by original drawings
4646 samian drawings by Oswald,
and photocopies of some of these,
accompanied by detailed notes
listing figure-types and quoting
Letters exchanged between the
collectors and other
correspondence, sketchbooks,
and photo albums
Museum documentation relating to
the collection, including a card
index with a paper rubbing of each
The collection today: display
• Currently, only a small
proportion of this
collection is on
display in the
Museum of
• The majority remains
in storage, in the
Museum and in the
Department of
The inaccessible collection
Before our project to enhance the accessibility of this collection:
Informal and formal questions revealed that both staff and students
regarded the collection as inaccessible:
The large size of the collection, and generally small size of the artefacts,
were regarded as off-putting;
The disorderly and cramped conditions of its storage made the collection
physically inaccessible;
The limited, even chaotic, museum documentation system and database,
which had been added to by many different people over the years, made
information about the collection inaccessible;
The lack of public information about the collection meant that none of the
students had previously heard of the Oswald-Plicque collection.
The Durham project
• The Durham project comprised a pilot study for a
broader HEFCE-funded project on Archive Archaeology.
• The core aim of the Durham project was,
‘To enhance the accessibility of the Oswald-Plicque collection of
Roman samian ware in the University’s Old Fulling Mill Museum
of Archaeology as a learning and teaching resource’.
Specific project aims
1) Improving intellectual and physical access to this
internationally significant museum archive of artefacts
and associated records, central to Roman studies
– which both Oswald and Birley were anxious should
benefit samian studies and not lie ‘idle in some
2) Establishing new ways of learning and teaching with this
collection of samian ware, using assignments that
involve active learning;
3) Providing opportunities to improve the employability of
students by engaging them in detailed studies of this
ubiquitous pottery.
Proposed outcomes
• From the perspective of the students, the hope was that the project
would enable learners:
1) To gain a critical understanding of the theory and practice of
samian studies;
2) To extend their knowledge of Samian ware by undertaking close
examination of the physical features, construction, function, design
and value of samian ware;
3) To gain and develop confidence and skills in handling, analysing,
interpreting, recording and exhibiting samian ware.
• But did we achieve these outcomes?
Enhancing the collection
• We enhanced the value of the OswaldPlicque collection as a learning, teaching
and research resource in the following
1. Key museum-based practical
1. Dispersed elements of the collection were tracked down
2. Lost elements of the collection were identified and investigated. In particular, it was
discovered that 199 clay moulds had been missing since 1985.
3. The boxes of samian sherds were cross-referenced with the card index.
4. The collection of sherds was sorted, cleaned, repacked and renumbered.
5. The casts of the moulds were sorted and cleaned, and some research was
undertaken in order to identify them.
6. The paper archive was sorted and repacked.
7. The additional boxes of unsorted samian ware sherds, which had been ‘absorbed’
into the collection over a number of years but are not necessarily attributed to
Oswald’s collection, were subject to preliminary research and identification, and were
8. An ADLIB searchable collections documentation database and user manual, which
was secure yet accessible to museum staff, students and researchers, was
developed by the Museum’s Documentation Officer and by the University Library’s
Database Administrator.
Students can now access this at the University Museums, with a special password.
9. The Museum’s Photographic and Documentation Officers digitally photographed each
piece of the samian collection: every sherd with a front view, and some also with rear,
cross-section and detail images.
10. Collections data, including written information and the digital photographs, were then
entered into the documentation system.
2. The student support officer
• A key figure in the transformation of the Oswald-Plicque
collection was the project’s Student Support Officer, Mrs
Christine Tallentire, who was appointed using the FDTL5 project funds to work with students on the development
of the collection.
• Chris worked with students, supervising their work in a
variety of ways:
– Training and supervising them in the handling, sorting, cleaning,
repacking and documentation of the collection;
– Helping them to choose artefacts to be exhibited in their
– Undertaking informal and questionnaire-based evaluations of
their experiences of working with the collection.
3. Embedding the collection in
learning and teaching
• We successfully embedded the use of the
collection as a learning and teaching
resource in a variety of assignments,
modules and degree programmes, at both
undergraduate and postgraduate level:
e.g. Level 3 ‘Museum Archaeology’
exhibition project
• The Museum Archaeology module was one of a group of
undergraduate Level 3 modules designed to provide students with a
sound knowledge of core professional techniques related to the
recording and analysis of classes of primary archaeological
materials, and thus to develop skills required for their analysis and
• The student assignment was to contribute to a group exhibition in
the temporary exhibition gallery of the Old Fulling Mill Museum of
Archaeology on an aspect of archaeology, using artefacts from the
Oswald-Plicque collection, accompanied by a press-release and an
information pack.
• The students undertook this project under the guidance of the
Department of Archaeology’s Lecturer in Museum Studies, the
Deputy Curator of the University Museums, and the pilot project’s
Student Support Officer, as well as with the assistance of other
members of the Archaeology Museum’s staff.
The Level 3 exhibition project
• The students chose to draw upon the whole of
the Oswald-Plicque collection and archive to
explore themes such as:
– the history of the collection,
– the manufacture and decoration of samian ware,
– the distribution, uses and archaeological deposition of
samian ware,
– the values of samian ware to us today.
• The culminating exhibition at the Museum was
entitled, ‘From Clay to Collection: the Life and
Times of a Roman Pot’.
‘From Clay to Collection: the Life
and Times of a Roman Pot’
Evaluation of the Level 3 exhibition
Student portfolios and questionnaires found that around 75 percent of the
students felt that that they had benefited from working with the collection
during the course of the exhibition project, by gaining new, or enhancing
existing, knowledge and skills.
In particular, they valued:
– Working as part of a team;
– Gaining hands-on experience with museum objects;
– Learning more about samian ware, particular through undertaking research on
the collection. Indeed, the students’ initial, somewhat negative to neutral,
attitude towards samian ware was transformed into a positive one;
– Learning about the interesting history of the collection;
– Learning more about museum work, by actually working in a museum.
– Contributing something to the wider community in Durham through public
Overall, it is fair to say that the students found the whole experience slightly
stressful, but very rewarding.
e.g. Level 3 Dissertation
One of the students who undertook the exhibition project on the Museum
Archaeology module also chose to write an 8,000-word Dissertation related to the
samian collection.
The title of this Dissertation was, ‘The Museum Display of Samian Ware in the North
East and London’.
The idea behind this Dissertation was to place the current permanent display, and the
temporary student exhibition, of material from the Oswald-Plicque collection in the
Museum of Archaeology in a broader context.
The Dissertation found that samian ware is a highly versatile artefact that is used in
different museums for a range of purposes, to:
Inform about many aspects of Roman life,
Explain archaeological practices,
Illustrate an individual collection.
It also found that, although in existing museum displays text plays the largest part in
explaining samian ware, other exhibition media can communicate information about this
pottery equally, if not more, effectively. These include:
Illustrations, especially when integrated with the text;
Tactile ‘interactive’ experiences, including contextual reconstructions.
e.g. Level 3 Archaeological
Illustration project
• The ‘Archaeological Illustration’ module
was another one of the group of
undergraduate Level 3 ‘professional skills’
• In this, one student chose to use some
pieces from the samian collection in their
illustration project.
e.g. Level 4 (Masters) ‘Museum Principles and
Practice’ weekly museum work placement
• As part of the ‘Museum Principles and Practice’ module, the MA
Museum and Artefact Studies students also undertook a weekly halfday work placement in one of the Durham University Museums, over
a period of around six months.
• This activity was intended to develop the practical and judgmental
skills of students to professional standards, working alongside
museum professionals.
• As part of this, some of the students worked in the Museum of
Archaeology alongside the Student Support Officer on the OswaldPlicque collection of samian ware.
• In particular, they learnt about and helped with the sorting, cleaning,
repacking and documentation of the collection.
What the students gained from this
placement work
Evaluations confirmed that there are real benefits to undertaking such
placement work on museum collections.
From the perspective of the students, the work:
– Increased their interest in and knowledge of samian ware, potters and
technology, including the variety of colours, decoration and potters’ marks found
on the pottery sherds,
– Increased their skills in the identification of samian decoration, which one of the
students thought would be of possible help to them in their ambition to undertake
postgraduate research (i.e. a PhD) in the future,
– Gained a better understanding of museum collections management issues
surrounding backlogs of undocumented and unpublished material,
– Developed their professional museum skills and knowledge, through:
receiving training in the correct handling of museum objects,
working on the packing and storage of the collection,
working with a computerised museum documentation system,
using a digital camera.
e.g. Level 4 (Masters) ‘Artefact
Studies’ artefact report
• As part of the ‘Artefact Studies’ module, the Masters students had to
select, research, analyse, record (document and describe) and
interpret a chosen inorganic artefact, and write it up in essay form,
accompanied by photograph(s) and drawing(s), and by
acknowledgements of all specialist assistance provided.
• The report had to begin with a catalogue-style entry of around 300
words and an accompanying photograph of the complete object, and
then be followed by an extended discussion of the object of around
2700 words and further illustrations, including a discussion of its
manufacture (materials, processes and tools), decoration (materials
and techniques), alteration, use, damage, discard, burial, and its
existence in the museum collection.
• A few students selected items from the Oswald-Plicque collection.
What the students gained from this
This exercise helped those students to develop their knowledge and skills in a
number of valuable directions:
They gained a thorough and critical understanding of the material composition, technology of
production, uses and cultural context of samian ware;
They gained direct experience in, and a competent ability to, handle, examine, analyse,
identify, classify, interpret, document, describe and report (in written and graphic form)
samian ware, using appropriate methods carefully, safely and accurately, summarising
critically their physical nature, structure and composition, key features, condition, use,
history, significance, age, provenance, relationship to other relevant objects, in line with a
research plan;
In the process, they also gained direct experience in and a competent ability to:
Use computer and information technology,
Access library, museum, archive and World Wide Web resources,
Undertake advanced independent study, research and problem solving,
Communicate information and arguments effectively, in written, visual and computerised form, to
specialist audiences,
Take responsibility for personal, professional and ethical development within the museum and cultural
heritage sector or within academia, responding actively to critical feedback,
Manage time effectively, working to time-tables and meeting deadlines.
e.g. Level 4 (Masters) Museum and
Artefact Studies exhibition project
• The ‘Museum Communication’ module of the MA in Museum and
Artefact Studies was focussed on helping the student group put on
an exhibition at the Museum of Archaeology.
• The exhibition was undertaken in collaboration with the staff of the
University Museums.
• The teaching included a series of training seminars on general
themes relating to museum communication, a series of field-trips
examining relevant existing types of museum display, and a series
of combined tutorials and group-work sessions on the student
• Self-directed learning was integral to this module, and involved a
considerable number of hours of individual and group work and
meetings undertaken outside of formal teaching sessions.
• The exhibition was completed and opened to the public in mid-June,
and finally dismantled in mid-August.
The assignment
The 10 students were initially informed that the exhibition was to be based on the
Oswald-Plicque collection of samian ware.
They were also informed that the following core elements had to be undertaken by
the group:
Preparation and mounting of a temporary exhibition in the upstairs
gallery of the Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology,
Preparation of an exhibition catalogue (either printed or on-line),
Preparation of a resource pack for use by school teachers,
Organisation and running of one or more related educational activities
or events, with in-put from the staff of the University Museums,
Formal evaluation of the exhibition and related activities;
Evaluation of the project as a whole and of each individual student’s
The student group entitled their project and exhibition,
Fire Your Imagination: Stories from Roman Pottery.
Front-end evaluation
• One of their early activities was to
undertake front-end evaluation on the
general public in Durham City.
• In total, 53 questionnaires were
completed, which shed some light on
peoples’ preconceptions about Roman
‘Would you be interested in seeing
an exhibition on Roman pottery?’
• In response to this question,
– 31 respondents answered ‘Yes’
– 9 were unsure
– 11 said ‘No’.
• One of the ‘No’ people said: ‘I find pottery quite dull to be
• One challenge for the students, then, was to try to create
an exhibition that might overcome the negative
preconceptions of the ‘Unsure’ and ‘No’ groups.
‘What would you expect to see in an exhibition
entitled “Fire your Imagination: Roman Stories
from Roman Pots”?’
The responses to this question revealed the wide-range of materials and
themes that potential visitors expected to see in the exhibition, in addition to
Here is a small, but representative, selection of these responses:
Pots, pots, pots, pots and pots.
Roman pots
Broken pots
Different types of pot
Domestic pottery, decorative pottery – dishes and cups for wine drinking
Pottery used for peaceful and warlike purposes – e.g. fire in the kitchen and
boiling oil catapulted over the enemy
Big kilns
Demonstrations of how pottery is made - people working handling clay
Where the Roman pots originated
Scenes from life
Roman history and myths
Latin poetry
Exhibition project aims
• Building upon this, and other information, gathered in the initial
stages of the project, the students defined the following aims for
their exhibition:
1) To generate an interest in the Roman way of life, and to raise
awareness of Samian ware,
2) To create a high quality, visually exciting, display that
communicates information in a clear and easily understandable
manner, and in an entertaining manner,
3) To provide a range of opportunities for visitors of all ages and
abilities to engage with and learn from the objects on their own level,
through both staff- and visitor-led means,
4) To introduce greater numbers of visitors to the Old Fulling Mill
Museum of Archaeology.
Practical museum-related tasks
• In practice, the exhibition project set out to meet these
aims by:
– Using a narrative-based approach to engage visitors,
– Focussing on manufacture, as well as on the images on the
– Creating a marketing campaign focussed on families,
– Following learning guidelines, such as the National Curriculum
and Generic Learning Outcomes,
– Consulting with professional designers,
– Creating a strong programme of staff-led events targeting
schools and families,
– Creating a highly informative display,
– Having layers of complexity in the exhibition text, which would
allow visitors to access information appropriate to their
comprehension levels.
Object handling
On-line catalogue
Education pack
Visitor feedback
• Visitor comments on the exhibition,
recorded in the visitor’s book and on
feedback forms, demonstrated that the
exhibition had been successful in
achieving its original aims.
What visitors learnt
• Here is a representative sample of some of the most
interesting things that people learnt:
– That samian ware exists
– How samian ware was made – e.g. how a raised decoration was
created on a pot
– That Roman pottery tells a story, as well as having a functional
– That spectators could buy pots depicting their favourite
– That the Britons were inspired by Roman pottery
– That Roman remains have been found near to where I live
– “We forget that the Romans were just the same as we are today,
with their wants and needs. They just had a different way of life.”
What visitors enjoyed
• Some of the things that people enjoyed most:
– The well chosen and interesting artefacts – ‘Love
those pots!’
– The handling session
– The locally found artefacts
– The informative labels
– The stories
– The children’s activities
– Seeing my daughter’s enthusiasm
What visitors didn’t like
• Some of the things that people enjoyed
– You can’t see the images on the pottery very
well, due to the small size of the objects and
poor lighting.
– The limited size of the exhibition – they
wanted more!
– There wasn’t any hot water for a cup of tea!
What the students gained from the
• Learning about working as a team to achieve shared
• Communicating effectively as a team;
• Gaining understanding and practical experience of a
range of museum principles and activities – e.g. securing
loans, text writing, evaluation;
• Gaining experience of working alongside museum
• Gaining experience of curating a museum exhibition to
professional standards;
• Overcoming exhibition problems.
Recommendations for best practice
The following recommendations are based upon the lessons learnt during
this project:
Archaeologists based in universities, museums and archives should cooperate, communicate effectively and work together to enable students to:
1) Access information about the existence and contents of collections,
2) Experience working within the museum/archive environment,
3) Work with collections by integrating collections into university curriculae,
4) Enable students to learn actively, enjoyably and effectively through
hands-on experience of multi-valent artefacts in collections;
5) Contribute to the process of improving the accessibility of collections and
dealing with backlogs in their documentation,
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа