GEMMA WEBBERLEYThe Gallaugher Bequest Churchill Fellowship to examine the sustainable practices required to maintain house museums in the 21st Century - U.K.
I am a Tasmanian born (1958) on the North West Coast but have resided in Hobart for over thirty years. Tourism and Hospitality were the industries I worked in before being employed by the National Trust in 1991. As Property Manager of Runnymede I have a varied role which incorporates tourism, hospitality, volunteer management and caring for a heritage building and collections. I had just turned 50 when I undertook my fellowship – perfect timing for my family as my three sons had left home allowing me more time to concentrate on study.
The fellowship travel was undertaken between April and June 2009 to the United Kingdom. The aim of the fellowship was to identify innovative practices which assist managers of house museums to address some of the challenges facing heritage properties in the twenty first century. The study included preventative conservation housekeeping, building maintenance and its role in conservation housekeeping and climate change and its impact on interiors and collections. Organisations included the National Trust UK, Spitalfields Trust, Bath Preservation Trust, Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and English Heritage.
FELLOWSHIP CONCLUSIONS & OUTCOMES
The Fellowship allowed me to build on my skills find new ways of caring for interiors and collections and broaden my understanding of conservation housekeeping. On returning from my Fellowship I went straight into using the knowledge and skills I had obtained when the National Trust was given grants to undertake conservation works at Runnymede. These works were completed in a seven month period and included re-wiring, installation of fire systems, plumbing, archaeological works, paint and decorative finishes and a review of the interiors and collections. During these works I was able to draw on my experience with heritage organisations and properties from the UK. The Fellowship has also allowed me to pass on my knowledge to the community and individuals who are caring for heritage places through talks and presentations.
Being a Churchill Fellow has enriched my life and my experiences during that period of travel and learning are used every day.