Gordon McKenna

International Development Manager

email: gordon@collectionstrust.org.uk

Photograph: Gordon McKenna

For over 30 years my work in the cultural sector has been varied and rewarding. I began as an archaeological scientist, taking part in excavations, carrying out projects to source pottery and to analyse wall painting pigments.

Working in museums: I moved stores; documented a wide range objects (using MDA cards!); carried out basic conservation work; and created prints for a small exhibition based on a 19th century glass plate negative collection.

Just before joining the Collections Trust I obtained a Masters in Information Technology, with my dissertation looking at the use of project management software during large hardware relocation operation by British Aerospace.

[Standards] help to make life simpler, and increase the reliability and the effectiveness of many goods and services we use.
(British Standards Institution (BSI), the world’s oldest standards setting organisation).

Since joining the Collections Trust it has been my goal to make this view of standards a practical reality for collection-holding organisations and for the people working in them. In the years since 1991 I have:

  • Undertaken a wide range of paid projects for national, local and private museums both in the UK and overseas;
  • Authored standards and guides such as SPECTRUM InteractiveSPECTRUM Knowledge and Standards in Action – SPECTRUM IT Guide;
  • Advised organisations, particularly on collections management systems and other IT-related issues;
  • Worked in partnership with organisations and consortia like CIDOC, ICOM-UK, FISH, EMII and CIMI to benefit the sector both in terms of standards and the creation of practical tools;
  • Lectured and given presentations on the Collections Trust’s work throughout the world.

One of major task was as editor of Collections Trust’s SPECTRUM standard – the vademecum of collections management. Related to this was my management of the SPECTRUM Partners Scheme, and the Collections Trust Standards Advisory Committee.

For the last four years I have worked as a work package leader in a number of European Commission funded projects (ATHENA, Europeana Local and currently Linked Heritage). During these projects I have have written guides to:

  • The ‘standards landscape’ for European museums;
  • Persistent identifiers;
  • A new XML harvesting schema LIDO (Light Information Describing Objects) which I helped to develop.

More recently I have become the lead of a small team that is managing three EC-funded projects:

  • ENUMERATE – gathering and publishing intellegence about digitisation of collections in cultural heritage organisations in Europe;
  • Partage Plus – digitising about 75 thousand items in the Art Nouveau, and related, style;
  • Europeana Inside – enabling organisations to more easily contribute to Europeane from the collections managemet system.

One of my private pursuits is looking into my family history, where I have researched some of my ancestors into the late medieval period. I enjoy reading, going to the cinema and theatre, and building computers.