Cultural Collections Projects Program

When I was looking the university website in the beginning of the semester, I came across a voluntary work called Cultural Collections Projects Program. It is designed to offer university students, alumni and people in the community with interests in cultural collections to work on conserving valuable works at the university. Since I had undertaken VCE Studio Arts and was interested in taking care of collections, I decided to apply to participate in the program. Fortunately, I was contacted by the program coordinator and became a volunteer at the ABP (Architecture, Building and Planning) Library at MSD. The project I officially began working on yesterday, is the rehousing of postcard collection by the Rev. James William Parkes (1896-1981), who is known for his contribution to the studies in Judaism and Christianity. The project involves classifying, assessing and considering the preservation of thousands of postcards Parkes collected. Those postcards are mainly of European architecture and art collections (thus it has been assigned at ABP Library).


With another volunteer who is taking masters degree learning conservation of photographs, I started looking through some of the postcards in wooden boxes (in two boxes in the image, we estimated that there are approx. 4000 postcards, and they are just a tip of an iceberg) that need better care. We began by recording kinds of objects/buildings depicted on postcards and the numbers of postcards for each building. Since I have been researching about the French and English Gothic cathedrals for my 3000-word essay (maybe I’ll talk about it in another post…), I was very fascinated to see numerous postcards showing different sections of cathedrals across France.


There were also many postcards of artworks and artefacts, such as collections of the Louvre and Musée des arts décoratifs. As I went through about a few hundreds postcards, I found that many of them may have had been sold as parts of postcard sets. The numbering system and distributors of those postcards might help us make a reference to which year they were printed, and to create a catalogue of them, however, we are still exploring ways in which they can be accessible to the general public.


Similar compositions, but different geometric patterns of rose windows and structural arrangements


I believe that this project is very important not only for providing rare visual references of those buildings to the community but also for finding out images of buildings that do not exist anymore, which were possibly destroyed during the wars in Europe. It is an enormous yet very exciting project to engage in.


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