Thursday, July 24, 2008

Working with Objects

Many people might not realize all the work that goes on behind the scenes in a museum. One of the areas that takes the most time because of the necessary detail that goes into getting it right is working with the objects.

Here's what the main storage area looks like. This is where most of the items (except the larger items like furniture and farm tools, etc.) are housed.

Our museum has only been open for four and a half years and our collection isn't necessarily large, but it's growing day by day. People bring in objects to donate to the museum all the time. And, one of the most important things we do with the collection is cataloguing each object no matter how small. Cataloguing means measuring, describing, photographing, and tagging or physically numbering an item with its own unique number. We do this by hand. Then, all that information has to be added to our collections database, as well as indications of the storage area and shelving unit each item is housed in/on. Here's an example of one item's record in our database.

Our collections intern, Dana, has been working on entering catalogue information into the database and photographing each of the objects in the collection. Luckily, we have a corps of trained volunteers who spend about 4-8 hours every month cataloguing and numbering artifacts-- this helps to cut down on the backlog of artifacts that weren't catalogued as they came in as well as keeping us on schedule with the stuff that still comes in every week. In the first month Dana started, she completed over 115 records-- entering the information into the database and taking photographs. I'm assuming that we've more than doubled that in the past month, since we've also been locating objects already catalogued and entered into the database but for which there is no associated photograph.

There's still a lot to be done, but we're making great progress.

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