Uncovered: bringing Fife’s collections back to life

In 2017 OnFife Collections staff, and a fab team of removal professionals, transported more than 82,000 objects (including 1,000 works of art) from a variety of locations across Fife to a new museum and archives store within our Collections Centre at Bankhead Central in Glenrothes.  This move meant that most objects would be kept in one building, secure and free from damage in stable, environmentally controlled conditions. 

Since the move our Museums Collections team have been working hard to update the locations of these objects.  This is important work as we need to know exactly where our objects are in the stores so they can be used in new exhibitions and made available to researchers.   

Some objects, those too big or unusually shaped to fit into boxes, were wrapped for the move but others had been wrapped for years, to protect them from the less than ideal stores we had previously. In July 2021,  I started working in the stores to unwrap and photograph these ‘Unboxed’ collections and to update their locations on our Collections Management System (Museums database).  I also check and record the condition of the objects, clearly label each one with its accession number (unique numbers we use to identify each object) and improve the description and/or details of the objects on our catalogue. 

Black doll's pram wrapped in bubble wrap. Black doll's pram without bubble wrap

Before and after: Black metal Triang doll’s pram, from around 1950s. DUFDM:1990.0063

OnFife colleagues within Local Studies at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries have helped us discover new information on some of our objectsThis trunk was used during the second World War by Captain D Drysdale, but we had little recorded information on him

Rectangular metal trunk painted black. Metal hasps and lock. A painted inscription on the lid reads "Capt. D. Drysdale R.A. 78817"

Metal trunk of Capt. D. Drysdale. DUFDM:1993.0198

We now know much more about David Drysdale, his military service, details of his career in banking, his involvement in many local organisations, service as Honorary Sherriff Substitute for Fife and as a Justice of PeaceThese important details are now recorded on our catalogue. 

Challenges including the pandemic and issues with technology have caused some delays in the project, but big strides have still been made.  Over 500 objects have now been Uncovered, their locations updated, and information on the object records enhanced. 

Painted clock faces in wrapping

Painted clock faces in wrapping.

Swathes of tissue paper and bubble wrap have been removed and improvements within the Collections Centre store can be seen every day. 

Museum shelving with objects. Objects are wrapped in bubble wrap on left side photo and unwrapped on right side photo

Before and after: rows of objects, previously wrapped in tissue and bubble wrap, are now accessible to staff and visitors.

Thanks to Museums Galleries Scotland’s Small Grant Fund for funding which has allowed us to purchase new equipment and to trial the use of new technology as part of the Uncovered Project. 


This blog was written by Susan Goodfellow, Collections Support Assistant, Uncovered project.