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Inside the Museum: collecting from the Queue

Objects procured from the Queue
by Sarah Kirkham
Friday 14 June 2013

Inside the Museum is a new blog from the Museum cataloguers, whose task it is to order and organise the Wimbledon Museum's vast and ever-growing collection.

When you think of the types of objects a museum collects, you might think of ancient artefacts, valuable paintings or items once belonging to a well known historical figure. However, this is not always the case. Some museums also collect contemporary objects. Contemporary collecting focuses on spotting upcoming trends, new faces and ideas. Objects that may not seem much today but have the potential to become important in the future. For example, a sports outfit worn in the 1940s. When it was produced, it was merely thought of as a generic, possibly disposable, item. However, today it might be part of a new fashion craze. The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum is one such collector.

The Championships not only provide an opportunity to collect from the players, but also from the general public. One valuable area to collect from is the famous ‘Queue’. Every year, going back to the Championship days on Worple Road, masses of budding spectators queue outside the grounds in hopes of obtaining a ticket for any match during one of the days. In order to obtain one of these precious tickets, people are willing to queue for hours, often camping overnight in the adjacent park.

The museum has avidly collected objects from ‘The Queue’ for 10 years between 2000 and 2010, collecting anything and everything with a Queue connection. Nowadays, we have to restrain ourselves from collecting everything and choose the objects that we lack or most need. The end result is the museum now has a mountain of objects that tells a story about each queue experience at every year’s Championship. The objects collected are known within the museum as the Field Collection and can include anything from hand held flyers which read ‘Flash your whites at Wimbledon’, to even more bizarrely, packets of Andrex Washlets. So, why do we collect these seemingly mundane everyday objects?

Everyday objects used throughout this experience are just as important to the Championships’ history as a racket, ball or outfit used by a player. They tell the ongoing story of The Championships and its growth in popularity over the years. For example, what did people do to entertain themselves throughout the wait? How many people queued and how far had they travelled? With the objects collected, you can tell a story of life in ‘The Queue’ and about The Championships that year.

One of the many objects collected throughout the years is a Robinsons Fun Connect a Straw from the 2012 Queue. The straw is sealed within its original packaging and comprises 20 separate parts. This was handed out to people from the Robinsons promotional stand in ‘The Queue’ area and may have been used to idle away the hours until you reached the front. It may seem like a useless object, but it holds a story about The Championships and its official suppliers.

Every year brings more Queue participants and more Championship history to collect.

Stay tuned for Part Two to see what ‘The Queue’ 2013 has to offer.

See you at The Championships!

Explore more of the Museum's collection

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