Historical accuracy

an area to discuss dinghy developments
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Ancient Geek
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Historical accuracy

Post by Ancient Geek » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:44 pm

Despite my nom de guerre, I am not a pedant, and am a practising "slysdexic" but even I note the howlers in for the Maritime Museums web site which for instance says the first Merlin was planked up in Marine Ply! It is unfair to pick out the NMM alone, museums generally are very bad at getting things absolutely right and if these errors do not get corrected then they become the fact! NMM doesn't seem interested just acquiring stuff and getting people in the door.
Does anyone else notice these howlers?
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by davidh » Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:31 pm

They do indeed pick them up - BUT... I hate to say, water and ducks backs springs to mind.

Recently they quoted the British Moth as being a Jack Holt design - another howler, but again one that seems to slip through the net.

Sadly, they are still very much the guardians of our hertitage and as such, take the lions share of the available cash for keeping this straight.

Unless private funding can be found, this situation will remain

D
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Michael Brigg
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Michael Brigg » Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:43 pm

This is an issue that was dealt with in a recent discussion on BBC Radio 4, where the subject of accuracy of imformation and its scources. The debate ran essentially on the referrences used in University and other examination dissertations. Who should be most trusted: The World renowned expert or the gemeral hearsay and legend.

The concept of "Wisdom of Crowds" was raised, which perhaps applies to this website.

The average time taken to correct an innaccurate fact published in Wikepedia is apparently 1.4minutes.
Image

On the other hand it is not subject to any "expert peer review" and is generally condemned as a reference tool that would get you marked down if used in an academic essay. There is considerably more detail entered on the propulsion and mechanisms of space travel in Star Treck than there is on the technical data available from NASA and other comparable Space agencies.
Image

On the other hand I suspect that to say the "Death Star was constructed from marine ply" would probably be more accurate than the suggestion that the original Merlins were similarly constructed even if they were rockets! Have we a "Darth Vader" pseudonym in our membership? Perhaps "The Dark Side" could advise us!

I understood the merlin developed as a design offshoot from an experimental construction techniche for the i14?
Michael Brigg

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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by davidh » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:02 pm

Michael,

You're not that far wrong!!!

Back in my Contendering days (nessa.... you'll love this though it is not in the book I'm sorry to say) - one of the fleet was the son of a 'special effects' guru. He worked for his father and if they were filming, he didn't sail - end of story!!

One of their films was the original 'Alien' (not the pluralistic version) and yes, the space ship was made of ply and chipboard, up at the film studios (Shepperton rings a bell here).

Sometimes filming of a scene would go on into the night, when the feral cats that roam the site could really give one a fright!!!!

So - spot on once again............

D
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Ed
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Ed » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:27 pm

Well....

I would like to stick up for the museums, or at least give a little background.
Some may be aware that my main client at the moment is the South Western Federation of Museums & Art Galleries....and indeed the National Maritime Museum Cornwall is one of the museums that I represent.

First, you say that NMM: Do you mean the National Maritime Museum? the large national museum homed in Greenwich?

or do you mean the National Maritime Museum Cornwall? the smaller regional museum based in Falmouth that is holder of the National Small Boats Collection - A designated National Collection?

The two are not the same.....nor even connected. The NMMC is not a part of the NMM in any way but a totally independent museum with completely separate funding and a completely different set of aims and driving forces.

The NMM has very little interest in small boats, let alone racing dinghies at all, which is why it gave the whole collection to the new museum in Falmouth to look after.

The NMMC is however the holder of the National Small Boat Collection and therefore does have some interest in racing dinghies. But it may or may not be what they consider the central part of their collection. To be honest, I rather doubt that as much as you and I might enjoy a visit to NMMC, there is no where enough visitors interested in the original construction of Merlins to justify keeping the doors open. To stay open NMMC has to be a major tourist attraction in the South West and it can't do that on just Moths'nEnts.

As for the National Small Boat Collection itself.........we all know (as do NMMC) that it is not exactly the collection you would choose if you started afresh. There are certainly gaps....and certainly boats that should not be in the collection. But it is the collection and it is hard to dispose of boats in the collection....and they are so pushed for storage space that buying new boats is hard too. To be honest, there are better collections in private ownership (well one).

But as I said, the small boat collection is only one part of the collection at NMMC and the sailing dinghies are only one part of that collection. They do not have a lot of staff there and the curatorial staff have a wider knowledge base than just racing dinghies. In fact, they would be the first to admit to having a shallower depth of knowledge than is here at the CVRDA. That is why Dave Chivers, Dave Henshall, Neil Witt, myself and others have all helped them in the past to try by providing some in-depth knowledge of the subject.

So.....If you see something that you think is wrong.....

Why not just email them and say where you saw the mistake and what you think it should be.

If they are not sure, they will quite likely go to an expert to confirm....and who knows - the expert may well be the CVRDA.

They won't be offended! All museums are now having real problems providing the level of curatorial knowledge across a wide range of subjects - so they ask those with specific subject-knowledge, which these days can often lie outside the walls of the museum.

I am sure you will have no problem finding a contact email for NMMC, but if you want any further contact names, please just contact me off-list.

So don't complain here....do something about it!

cheers

eib
Ed Bremner
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by davidh » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:38 pm

Ed,

You're right in what you say BUT - as always, the devil is in the detail.

The NMM ( I think we'll all take this as meaning Falmouth for now) is just as you're positioned it, let's all celebrate in the award winning status that it continues to enjoy.

BUT BUT BUT..... they are also the recipient of a lot of highly valuable and from the heritage point of view, totally irreplaceable material. Well meaning people out there are saying...what should I do with 'this' - when this could be anything from a set of drawings for a boat, a lifetime collection of photos, memories, or even a boat or two(surely not).

Great, BUT BUT BUT - what are Falmouth doing with this? Are they using it in a constructive way, or consigning it to storage?

Both Dave C and myself have, when the occasion arose, dropped Falmouth a quiet email pointing out the 'error'. That should go without saying BUT (enough!! - I'll only say it once this time) Falmouth have been offered help and material, to be gifted to them on a plate, yet have passed the opportunity by. As a tourist attraction Falmouth may be first class, but as a centre of knowledge, it is in the wrong place and with the wrong mindset.

Expect further ground breaking news on this subject twixt now and the Excel Boatshow..............

David
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Ancient Geek » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:38 pm

In my own defence I have told them many times; not even an ackowledgement; nor even one to a request to acess an archive held there!
On a slight tangent but sort of same subject I was recently given a truly lovely book (Superb Pictures.) of Americas Cup and the Jubilee Regatta of 2001. Listing the better known attendees, I was not miffed not to included on the list but I was surprised to see Diana Princess of Wales included on the list!
On occasions life seems too short to be constantly correcting the school boy/girl howlers.
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Rupert » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:48 pm

Perhaps she was there in spirit...
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Michael Brigg
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Michael Brigg » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:58 pm

Hi A.G.,

I know pen names and "Noms des Guerres" are to preserve some privacy but often carry small clues.

Applied to the above...
..Regards himself as a celebrity
..Sailed a bit in a few classic small craft, ff perhaps, possibly with Uffa?
..done Cowes week a few times,
..miffed by reference to "The Queen of Hearts,"
...andbeing overshadowed by same,
..hints of seniority and possible Hellenic ancestry...

Is HRH, A.G. more appropriate?? :wink: :wink:
Michael Brigg

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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Ancient Geek » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:00 pm

Sadly no!
This AG was on Endeavour.
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Ed » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:05 pm

In terms of accuracy....I think we would do far better to talk of the NMMC if that is what we are indeed talking about.

I understand your concerns, but I suspect the NMMC is working within rather a tight set of restraints.

(These are totally my own opinions!)

As I said, we have to remember that the classic sailing dinghies are only one part of the 'National Small Boats Collection' and that the 'National Small Boats Collection' is only one part of the NMMC's collections. Although the NMMC receives some funding, it still has to gather much more income to enable it to continue opening the doors and storing its collections. I really doubt that The Small Boat Collection can draw enough interested visitors through the doors to support itself.

Like many museums, it faces two dilemmas; First, boats are big, expensive to store and expensive to upkeep. The museum has very limited funds with which to store and upkeep boats, and very little storage space or manpower to do the up-keeping. The museum therefore has to be very careful about receiving any new items - especially things like boats with such a big cost-overhead associated with ownership. Secondly, it is very hard for museums to dispose of any items within their collections - they have a duty to build collections and not sell them, but with boats, they are really stuck. Unless they can get rid of a few, it is very hard to get any more!

So, often it would like to take on new items, but unless it is really very sure about it, they have to say no. As you know, they were considering Roger's Hornet 'Shoestring' but as lovely as it was they could not find room to take it on.

But the real killer-point is that the NMMC is a museum with a wide remit and collections policy, which includes classic racing sailboats. But it is not their be-all and end-all. From our position, we may well consider this a pity! We may wish that it was not true and that it was the National Museum of Classic and Racing Dinghies :D but it ain't.

David, you have alluded many times to possible news of a 'new' home for some of our important small boat heritage.

Please do tell us more.

Personally, although I would always support any organised attempt to protect this heritage, I would think it was a pity if this diluted the attempts by the NMMC to build a museum and archive for this material.

I just hope that whatever plans you have are well funded.

Because the NMMC has worked hard to be a first-class tourist attraction.....just so it can pay for it being a centre of knowledge!

cheers

eib
Ed Bremner
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Ancient Geek » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:38 pm

I apologise if I get the organisations initials wrong!
It would seem that the CVRDA is a very good example of a putative "Living Museum".
Discuss.
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by davidh » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:40 pm

Ed..............

Okay - at long last, here it is.

But, not wanting to stray off topic, I'll start a new one!!!

D
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by Ed » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:49 pm

waiting with baited breath! :lol:

cheers

eib
Ed Bremner
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MR 638 - Please come and take it away
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Re: Historical accuracy

Post by DavidC » Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:25 pm

Hi Ed,

I wish I could share your confidence with the NMMC. However, I have seen nothing but disappointment. I agree that they need income but even after a visit with a very successful businessman and sailor they were not interested in any advice offered.

You are correct in that the National Small Boat collection is not a structured collection but I would have thought that there are better reasons for displaying a boat than simply "just because it is pretty"! I have a great deal of sympathy for them having had the collection dumped on them by Greenwich but surely it is an opportunity to move forward?

I know that we live in a society where no one is ever responsible for their own actions, but the inaccurate information that has come out of Falmouth is deeply disturbing. Even when the errors are pointed out they do not seem bothered and just make excuses. Frankly someone is being paid to do a job and if they are not able to issue correct facts then perhaps someone else should do the job rather then expecting people like us to correct their mistakes and do their job for them.

I fully understand the need to have a commercial edge in today's "Museum" market, especially when they receive no direct funding, but that does not excuse misleading information being given out and issued as fact.

I sincerely hope that they will prove me wrong in the future but at present it seems to much of a black hole.
D

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