Sebastiaan Beschoor Plug at the British Museum, Department of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas - summer 2017
Sebastiaan_Beschoor_Plug_with_FloraOne of the most vivid parts of my placement at the British Museum was spent in the vast and exciting photographic collection. By assisting in recording and describing these micro-collections I was able to glimpse the social lives of different types of photographs in the Africa, Oceania, and Americas collection. This ranged from working with the negatives made by a British colonial officer in Nigeria, Charles Partridge; to Mission photographs taken in the Solomon Islands in the 1950s; to Alfred Maudslay’s unique and important glass plate negatives, comprising the first photographs to be made of the Mayan sites in Central America. I found the photographs taken by Dorota Starzecka, a retired assistant keeper at the AOA, during her tour of Vanuatu in 1965/7, particularly fascinating. Working on these micro-collections of photographs facilitates their future retrieval and accessibility to a wider audience. It also gave me invaluable insight into the lives of collections behind the scenes at the museum, and the ways in which scholars are currently making new knowledge about them.