UK Screen Heritage Network
Today saw the launch at the British Library of the Researcher’s Guide to Screen Heritage. This is the the result of a project, led by the UK Screen Heritage Network, to map artefacts held in UK museums and archvies which relate to screen history. So this isn’t the films, or television programmes, but rather the costumes, sets, cameras, projectors, toys, documents, scripts, sheet music etc, and embracing a broader idea of screen history to inlcude magic lanterns, other kinds of slide presentation, digital media artefacts of today, and even art installations.
The resultant directory has been combined with an existing directory of moving image collections in the UK and Ireland, so that you can now search across the full range of moving image-related collections which are open to researchers. It a collection-level database, so you’ll find information on collections rather than individual titles; and it’s not everything, but it’s a strong start in attempting to map what what has generally lain scattered across the museums and seldom known about by film (or screen) historians.
So you are encouraged to explore for yourselves, but some of the gems from our area that you may learn about are:
- the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, which includes a complete 1920s cinema reconstructed and placed within the museum, plus a complete cinema percussionist’s kit used at the Picture House, Willenhall from 1923-27;
- a collection of cinema slides dating from the First World War, consisting mainly of hand painted film publicity/advertising subjects, at the Clevedon Curzon Community Centre for the Arts;
- the Barnes Collection of material relating to early film production in the South East, including Brighton and Hove pioneers George Albert Smith, James Williamson, William Friese-Greene, Esme Collings, Alfred Darling and Charles Urban, held by Hove Museum & Art Gallery;
- early trade catalogues, oral history interviews on cinema-going and working in cinemas held by Beamish, The North of England Open Air Museum;
- the collection of magic lantern slides used by the Congo Reform Association in their campaign to raise awareness about the abuses taking place under King Leopold II of Belgium’s regime in the Belgian Congo c.1880 to c.1909, held by Anti-Slavery International;
- record of the Hepworth and Nettlefold studios at Elmbridge Museum.
As well as collections tucked away in unexpected corners, there are the leading museums in the field in the UK: the National Media Museum, Kingston Museum, the Cinema Museum, and the University of Exeter’s Bill Douglas Centre. The Researcher’s Guide to Screen Heritage is hosted by the British Universities Film & Video Council, and was developed for the UK Screen Heritage Network by the BUFVC, the National Media Museum and Screen Archive South East. Go explore.