Drawing the Object

Hello everyone, Michael here.

There is a hidden treasure in Ipswich Museum! A group of objects that are rarely, if ever seen by the general public. These are the Accession Registers, a group of unique books cataloging each object that has come in. They have a very important function. They help curators, conservators and researchers understand exactly what we have, when it came into the collection, how and where from.

I feel very privileged to be handling these books as part of my  work on the Collections Information Programme. Ipswich Museums are currently updating and digitising all the information about their objects. This is a mammoth task when you consider that there are around 77,000! Some of my time is spent photographing objects or transferring information from index cards onto a spreadsheet. I’ve also been packing and unpacking items and recording where they are located.


Part of researching an object can involve looking it up in the Accession Register. These beautiful, decade by decade records are often hand written. They are full of carefully observed drawings and elegant hand-writing, and I have become a little obsessed with the simple beauty of the drawings. They are both elegant and functional. I love to draw. I find it the best way to really study what a thing looks like, so I find it fascinating to see how carefully these objects have been rendered. They seem to be mostly anonymous and the fact that they are hidden away in a book, inside a locked cupboard demonstrates the humility and dedication of the draughtsmen.

To me, they are quiet little masterpieces. I love the warmth and humanity that is conveyed in the simplicity of the black ink lines. They make me think of all the dedicated curators and museum illustrators that have come before me in this building. The examples I have used are from the 1920 register, but there are many, many more.

That’s all for now. I need to get back to those Accession Registers…



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