RMN’23 – “I’m an archivist, not a merchandiser!” The (im)practicalities of commercial opportunities from collections

Image credit: The Museum of English Rural Life/University of Reading

The first seminar of the Rural Museums Network’s autumn Rural Voices series saw us joined by Guy Baxter, archivist at the Museum of English Rural Life, to discuss the opportunities and challenges of collections commercialisation.

In what proved to be a fascinating insight, Guy shared his experiences of dealing with the constant demands for The MERL’s vast photographic archive from researchers, the media, and the wider community.

This session was hosted by Rachael Thomas, Rural Museums Network Secretary.

Guy Baxter has led the archive service at the University of Reading – including The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) archive – since 2008, achieving UK Accredited status and contributing to several interdisciplinary projects across stewardship, access, research and engagement.

He convenes the department’s working groups on Income Generation and Digital and is a member of the Research Libraries UK working group for the Digital Shift. Guy has long-term professional and research interests in copyright and compliance, cross-domain and interdisciplinary working and in image collection management.

Rachael Thomas (Secretary of the Rural Museums Network) is a museum curator and conservator, based in Inverness, who has worked with collections across the Highlands of Scotland. Most recently this has included time as Assistant Curator at Auchindrain Township in Argyll, and as Project Conservator during Gairloch Museum’s award-winning reinterpretation.

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