The aim of the “Seeing the Light of Day” project is to develop sustainable solutions to the management, accessibility and long-term preservation of archaeological archives in the SW. As new housing has been built over the last few years, archaeologists have been busy excavating sites to record archaeological evidence before it is destroyed. Unfortunately, no financial provision has been made for these finds to be looked after by museums. Most museums stores across the SW Region are now full and there is a backlog of some 50 cubic metres of finds waiting to come to museums – the same size as a double-decker bus! The backlog is growing at the rate of 5 cubic metres a year.
The project is looking at how this important evidence of our past can be properly looked after and made available to people in the area where these excavations have taken place. Our museums need to be able to safeguard the paper and digital archives and finds for future generations of researchers.
The project is funded by Arts Council England. It is led by the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes but is a partnership project intended to engage and benefit museums across the South West, their audiences and the wider heritage sector. The project has the support of the SW Museum Development Partnership, SW Museums Federation, SW Historic Environment Teams / Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers in the SW, Historic England, the Chartered Institute for Archaeology Archives Group, the Society of Museum Archaeologists and the 5 largest archaeological contractors active in the South West.
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: ‘This is a great example of how museums working together can move towards developing sustainable solutions to shared issues and we’re delighted to be supporting them.’
David Dawson, Director of the Wiltshire Museum, said ‘This support will help tackle a problem faced by museums not just across the South West, but also across the country.‘
Two consultants have been appointed to work on the project. Kate Fernie is working on issues related to Museums and Paddy McNulty is working on issues relating to planning archaeology and archaeological contractors.