|National Archives of the Czech Republic||
Strategy of Exhibiting Archive Materials
The main task of the archives is to collect documents of permanent value, and to process, protect and provide access to them. Exhibitions are one of the means of providing access to and presenting archive materials (and also archives and archiving as a field of endeavor).
Archive materials consist of various types of organic and inorganic materials that can be irreparably damaged under unsuitable climatic and light conditions or unsuitable handling during exhibitions. From this point of view, exhibitions always constitute a risk and thus their preparation and provision for them must always be approached with maximal care, responsibility and knowledge of all the potential risks. However, in general, it can be stated that archives can hold short-term exhibitions of the original copies of archive materials, however under conditions of care for the complex safety of the exhibited memorials. If it is not possible to ensure the safety of the exhibited archive materials or a long-term or permanent exhibition is involved, it is essential to exhibit good-quality reproductions and facsimiles of the originals.
The principles of exhibiting archive materials in the State Central Archives in Prague were drawn up on the basis of a three-year grant1 "The effect of light and ultra-violet radiation on archive documents", work on which was carried out in 1998 - 2000. Considerable attention is paid especially to the aspect of lighting of archive materials during exhibitions and new approaches to lighting sensitive archive materials constitute the cornerstone of overall exhibiting strategy. These principles are intended primarily for the institution in which they were formulated, but could constitute an example for other state archives or an inspiration for libraries, museums and galleries.
Consent to exhibiting archive materials (or lending materials for an exhibition) should always be obtained from the director of the archives. However, this consent is dependent on the consent of the director of the restoration and conservation department. The director of the archive should obtain the request for exhibiting the archive materials at least 6 months before the start of the exhibition. Otherwise, the applicant risks that it will not be possible to lend requested archive materials that will have to be restored before the exhibition.
On the basis of the application, the director (director of the archive department) designates an employee who will be responsible for professional and organizational aspects of provision for the exhibition or lending. This employee alone, or in cooperation with other professional workers, selects and collects the archive materials requested for the exhibition, which (s)he then submits to the restorers. In addition, as required, (s)he provides for creation or reproductions, arranges for timely establishing of insurance sums, preparation of an "Agreement on Lending", submits the archive materials to the commissioner of the exhibition and, after the end of the exhibition, ensures that the archive materials are again returned to the restorers for final assessment of their condition.
If the archive materials are lent for an exhibition outside of the building of the State Central Archives in Prague, the lender is sent a detailed Questionnaire on lending archive materials for the purpose of exhibitions.
The restorers at the archives carry out a detailed evaluation of the physical condition of the requested archive materials and, on the basis of knowledge of the physical condition, type of archive materials and evaluated questionnaire, decide whether and which of the requested archive materials will be exhibited or lent for the purposes of the exhibition.
For selected archive materials, prior to lending, the employees of the restoration department fill out a Protocol on the condition of the archive materials prior to the exhibition. The protocol can be supplemented by a good-quality reproduction (black-and-white or coloured photograph, slide, digital photograph, microfilm) and constitutes part of the Agreement on Lending. Selected archive materials are packaged and submitted to the responsible employee for expediting.
Archive materials must be insured prior to lending. In determining the insurance sum, consideration is taken of the historical and art-craft value of the archive materials and the cost of restoration in case of damage thereto. The insurance sum is determined by an employee of the State Central Archives and is also stated in the Agreement on Lending. A written document of conclusion of insurance must be sent to the State Central Archive prior to lending the archive materials.
At any time during the exhibition, the employees of the State Central Archives in Prague may control the state of the exhibited archive materials and compliance with the required exhibiting conditions. Similarly, these employees should be present during installation of the loaned archive materials and during liquidation of the exhibition.
Following closing of the exhibition, a responsible employee shall ensure that all the archive materials are returned back to the restoration and conservation department, where the restorers evaluate their condition in the presence of a representative of the borrower and fills out a Protocol on the condition of the archive materials. Then the archive materials may be returned back to the depositary.
1. Strategy of Exhibiting Archive Materials in the Central State Archives in Prague. ( RTF format, 49 kB)
2. Questionnaire on lending archive materials for the purpose of exhibitions. (RTF format, 7,5 kB)
3. Agreement on Lending (RTF format, 16 kB)
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Last change this website - 2004, February