On Friday 2nd December the Library of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin will host the public lecture, ‘Museums in Libraries, Libraries in Museums' by Beth McKillop. Beth was Deputy Director of the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum from 2010 to 2016, leading collections, curatorial and research programmes. Her lecture will reflect on museums and libraries in the 21st century, from her unique perspective of 11 years at the V&A and 20 years in the British Library’s Asian Department. Her talk will have an international perspective, and will look at changing patterns of provision and engagement in museums and libraries around the world, with a focus on recent initiatives at the V&A.
The V&A is home to the National Art Library and the Archive of Art and Design. Beth will explore how these rich curatorial and information sources are incorporated across the physical and virtual museum. She will discuss plans for V&A East, a new museum for East London, in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford, and will outline new thinking about museum and library collections as a kind of encyclopedia of the material and digital world.
Beth moved from the British Library to the V&A in 2004, becoming the Museum’s Deputy Director in 2010. Her early training was in Chinese language and culture, and she began her career by cataloguing and researching China’s books and manuscripts. Later she broadened her interests to include Korean collections. Her gallery projects at the V&A have included the Samsung Gallery of Korean Art (1992); the V&A New Ceramic Galleries (2009/10) and the Buddhist Sculpture Galleries (2009).
In the information management sphere, Beth championed a digital infrastructure project at the V&A, the award-winning ‘Collections Management System’, which ran from 2010 until 2014. The system benefits were: reduced duplication and reuse of data; consistent processes and data management; elimination of backlogs; and savings on IT licenses.
Most recently Beth has worked with her colleague Professor Bill Sherman, to develop a V&A initiative to transform museum-based research by establishing VARI, the V&A Research Institute. VARI has secured multi-year funding from the Mellon Foundation to create a unique space for nurturing curatorial/conservator expertise, scholarly training and practical skill. Since January 2016, the new Institute has been pushing ahead with teaching and training, and with collaborative research projects. In time it will publish its work in print and digitally. It will work through discrete and diverse projects including ‘Encounters on the Shop Floor: Embodiment and The Knowledge of the Maker’; ‘Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities’; ‘The Leman Album: An Enhanced Facsimile’; and ‘Digital Dickens’.