Articles

  • Mercury – A Tale of the Importance of Good Documentation It’s a strange thing. The topic of hazardous materials in collections pops up every once in a while but as human beings we tend to forget about it because we consider that – of course – we know these hazards are there, but, then again, we are rather sure we know our own collection well ...
  • Holy Crap – Something’s in There! Objects Containing Ingredients in Collections Recently I stumbled upon this article on Piero Manzoni’s work “Artist’s Shit”: https://www.sartle.com/artwork/artists-shit-no-014-piero-manzoni It reminded me of a problem that hits every collections manager at least once in his or her career. The object that contains something. Not always the content is as debatable as canned crap, but from arsenic to ...
  • How Should Museums Equip Themselves For Rapid Response Collecting? by Kathleen Lawther Following the Women’s March on Washington and the marches which took place around the world in solidarity on Saturday 21st January, I began to see posts popping up on Twitter and from the Museums Association in the UK highlighting the fact that museums wanted to collect protest signs, pink pussy hats and other ...
  • The Mountains And The Shrubbery – A Reflection on ICOM Milano 2016 When I was traveling back from the ICOM conference in Milan to Germany through the majestic landscape of the Alps I made an observation: While I was able to admire the calm beauty of the mountains with mansions and small farm houses I was unable to capture this silent beauty on camera. My camera, doing ...
  • Collections Put to The Test – New German Resource on Audits Audits in collections – the opportunity to make a clean sweep, to correct old sins in documentation and look for the condition of our treasures. But where to begin and how to keep the project going? Lina Lassak did her bachelor thesis on this topic. And because there is no recent German resource about it, ...
  • CIDOC 2016 – Documentation is About People As I was sorting my notes from the CIDOC conference in Milano I discovered that, unlike my notes from other conferences, it was hard to separate the sessions from one another ...
  • Increasing Accessibility for Visitors Who Are Visually Impaired: Simple Solutions for Small Museums by Janice Klein and Chuck Dean on April 05, 2016, originally published on the AASLH Blog The 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has provided museums and museum associations the opportunity to review and reflect on the ways in which visitors with disabilities can be provided with improved access to museums. Recent professional ...
  • Spreading the word: explaining what Museum Documentation is – and why it’s important Co-authored with Rupert Shepherd, a talk delivered on 4 July 2016 at the 2016 CIDOC conference, held within ICOM Milano 2016. Rupert: In December 2013 I visited a major museum in London. There, I saw a box for donations which gave a choice: did I want my money to be used for conservation, or education? But ...
  • A thing that can do things – Taking a look at the Arduino from the perspective of a collections specialist Being the collections manager for a Science and Technology Museum has a whole range of downsides. For example, you never, ever get big industrial storage halls so tight that dust and pests aren’t an issue, people think you are crazy when you insist on various security systems and archival packaging for “old junk” and one ...
  • ARCS Conference 2015: On-campus Loans By Greg Hunter This may seem a weird way to start an article written for registrars, but many years ago, I attended a day of clown school. It was a pretty unique experience, and (little did I know at the time) it was also an experience would turn out to have something in common with working ...
  • Collection Storage Tips and Tricks #reorgtips By Simon Lambert We collections professionals are a creative bunch. Because of our great passion, we do not let limited resources get in the way of our commitment to preserve our collections and make them accessible to our community. Tonnes of innovative ideas on how to store different types of objects are developed in museums, libraries ...
  • Failures in Figures – Sloppy Location Tracking Part 4 The reasons and what can be done about it II In part 3 of our series we took a look at what part of our human nature causes the errors we’ve discovered in part 1. But they are not the only reason. Procedures and technology play a big part in this. 1. Number of steps towards location ...
  • Failures in Figures – Sloppy Location Tracking Part 3 The reasons and what can be done about it In part 2 I left you with the question why so many mistakes happen, why we discovered an error rate of 21,91 % in our example. Well, you may have guessed it, while sometimes sloppyness CAN be the reason, it seldom is. Let’s take a look at ...
  • Failures in Figures – Sloppy Location Tracking Part 2 The damage sloppy location tracking does I promised to take a look at the damage done by the errors recognized in the first part. Note: All the working time given in minutes are estimations based on real-world experiments and consider closely related working steps like, for example, that to check a rack in compact storage you need ...
  • Failures in Figures – A Series with Real-World Examples and Real Data Nowadays everybody seems to be obsessed with numbers. Big Data, KPIs, ROI, people like to count and somehow they believe that only if they have counted enough numbers they can make sense of what’s going on. Recently someone asked how many artifacts are needed to justify a curator’s position. People ask ”How many artifacts does ...
  • Where’d It Go? TECHNOSEUM utilizes barcodes to track collections When things disappear in museums, everyone’s first thought is of break-ins or theft. Museum objects do disappear on a daily basis, but the reason they do is usually more mundane: the object was removed for exhibition, loan, or conservation. Changes in location are usually tracked in a database, but the ...
  • New Digital Publication Now Available!
    Rights & Reproductions: The Handbook for Cultural Institutions
    by Anne M. Young Manager of Rights and Reproductions Indianapolis Museum of Art Last week Rights & Reproductions: The Handbook for Cultural Institutions was published by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and American Alliance of Museums. Read the official press release here: http://www.imamuseum.org/sites/default/files/attachments/RR%20Handbook%20PR%20FINAL.pdf. After two years of in-depth work on the Handbook, it is my great pleasure to ...
  • But what is it called? Nomenclature 4.0 is here to help you! Using the right terms is crucial for good museum documentation, the foundation for professional museum work. We have discussed this a couple of times in the past. Now I’m really happy that Nomenclature, the standard work for naming objects correctly in historical museums in the U.S. sees its fourth edition. Those of you who ever ...
  • What are those objects and where do they come from? Making The Collection of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society (AMIHS) accessible By Ashley Burke Throughout the country, there are local communities concerned with preserving their historic heritage. As a result, small historical societies and museums are created to help preserve this history. Many of these organizations are volunteer run and often they do not have proper ...
  • Rembrandt on the Forklift Originally published on March 25, 2015, in German on the TECHNOblog of the TECHNOSEUM Admittedly, when colleagues from art museums take in collections, you could go green with envy. Rembrandt, Goya, Cranach… While our AEG K2 Magnetophon is rarer than a Blue Mauritius, there aren’t many people who get really excited about it. And whether the ...
  • Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections –
    Will you join me in this journey?
    Dear Readers of this Registrar Trek Blog, For the last three years we’ve seen a growing number of faithful readers who not only read, but also contribute by sharing the articles, writing comments and sparking conversation with their peers. Some even wrote stories and articles for this blog. That’s great! Today, I want to share with you ...
  • The Journey to the Fourth Edition of Basic Condition Reporting by Deborah Rose Van Horn Over 3 years ago, the Southeastern Registrars Association (SERA), decided to update their book, Basic Condition Reporting: A Handbook. The third edition had been published in 1998 and had not been updated since. The goal of the book has always been to create a common framework for professionals when ...
  • Post-its never die; they just fade away A fascinating experiment on light damage by Judith Haemmerle, Executive Director Digital Game Museum, Santa Clara, California In our startup video game museum, everything is done by volunteers on a ridiculously limited budget. So it’s always a balance between collections care and – well, everything else. My biggest anxiety last year was light damage. We removed ...
  • Dust: Arch Enemy and Artwork Day in, day out collections staff is fighting against dust. We wrap artwork, dinosaurs, cars and coffee makers, sometimes we even put old cardboard boxes into new archival boxes. We do everything to keep our arch enemy, the mighty dust, away from our artifacts. And while we brush, wipe and vacuum I bet it never ...
  • Art work, Artefact, Auto, and Pop-Culture Shrine, Part 2 Transport and Exhibit of the John Lennon Rolls Royce By Derek Swallow – Royal BC Museum Suffocating from a feeling of impending failure I drew in a deep breath, exhaling slowly. Relax, I murmured. I’m just responsible for moving a car from our collection ...
  • Art work, Artefact, Auto, and Pop-Culture Shrine Transport and Exhibit of the John Lennon Rolls Royce, Part 1 By Derek Swallow – Royal BC Museum Dedication: To the team of Nordic registrars who sponsored the fabulous European Registrar’s Conference, 2014, I attended ...
  • Transit Totem Blog Post Mortem By Brett Dion Angela of Registrar Trek was very kind to credit the “Tell a Tale of a Transit Totem” program at the New York Transit Museum as an original concept in presenting museum collections. But I must confess that I drew inspiration for my proposal from a session at the 2013 AAM conference in Baltimore. ...
  • European Registrars Conference 2014:
    Moving Collections
    Niin makaa, kuin petaa. One sleeps like one makes his bed. (Finnish proverb) As a collection manager in a museum where over 3 % of the collection is permanently on the move due to exhibitions, loans and other purposes, I was extremely interested in this panel. Moving Collections and Organizations Per Hedström from the Nationalmuseum Sweden talked about “Moving ...
  • The really geeky stuff – how we did it If it moves, barcode it! Part 2 By Sheila Perry Note: This is part 2 of the article “If it moves barcode it”, read part 1 here. We had 3 sets of barcode labels made, with separate ranges of numbers for drawings, prints and photographs, starting from DR00001, PR00001 and PH00001 respectively. These numbers were meaningless and the ...
  • If it moves, barcode it! By Sheila Perry Our barcoding efforts have been geared towards immediate practical needs rather than the wholesale adoption of technology by the organisation. We might have proceeded somewhat differently if we had acted strategically and attempted to barcode everything in all the National Galleries of Scotland collections. On the other ...
  • European registrars Conference 2014: Be Prepared! Ei vahinko tule kello kaulassa. An accident won’t arrive with a bell on its neck. (Finnish Proverb) A little tired we started into the second day. The decision had to be made between „Valuation and Insurance“ and „Be Prepared“. Well, I felt not prepared after going to bed at 2 a.m., so I chose „be prepared“. The ...
  • European Registrars Conference 2014: Art Theft and Recovery Vahinko tulee viisaallekin. Even the wise one sustains damage. (Finnish Proverb) The last sessions of the first day saw two speakers who were were different in appearance and presentation style but who definitely pull together when it comes to bringing back lost art: Christopher A. Marinello, Director and Founder of Art Recovery International and Rune Sivertsen, Detective ...
  • European Registrars Conference 2014: Assessing Risk in Lending and Borrowing Niin metsä vastaa kuin sinne huudetaan. The forest answers in the same way one shouts at it. (Finnish Proverb) After lunch there was again a difficult choice to make: Assessing Risk in Lending and Borrowing or Shipping Challenges. I could talk hours about shipping challenges in a Science and Technology Museum, but they are mainly inside my ...
  • European Registrars Conference 2014: Security Matters Älä laita kaikkia munia samaan koriin. All eggs should not be put in one basket (Finnish proverb) After the opening introductions and first session „But is it art?“ by Daniel Birnbaum there were parallel sessions: Security Matters and Couriering 101. As we seldom courier in my museum, I chose security. Maybe the most impressive presentation was given by ...
  • How was Helsinki? A report from the European Registrars Conference 2014 When people ask me how my trip to Helsinki went I start telling them with enthusiasm about the beautiful city, the white nights, the friendly people, the good food, the seagulls,… only to realize then that what they really wanted to know is if there was something useful, innovative, important or in any way interesting ...
  • Home from Helsinki: Presentation from #ERC2014 Just arrived home from Helsinki and it will take a few days to review notes, pictures, thoughts… everything. I’m still overwhelmed by the various impressions from the conference, the speeches, the presentations, the high professionality and friendliness of our hosts from the Nordic Registrars Group, the talks with colleagues, the laughter and the fun and ...
  • Museum documentation: a hidden problem or something to shout about? by Rupert Shepherd If you were given a choice between donating money for museum conservation, education, or documentation, would you give to documentation? I was offered this choice by a collecting box at one of the London national museums just before Christmas last year. Or rather, I was given a choice between conservation and education: documentation didn’t ...
  • A New Look for Museum Collection Committees by Derek Swallow Innovation in such areas as exhibition methodology, education programs, revenue generation is expected in the 21st Century museums. This is not always the case for core museum processes. However, necessity can drive such innovation. Many twenty-first century museums face the harsh reality of shrinking budgets. One impact: fewer staff with heavy workloads. To ...
  • Handling the #BestBlog Award with White Gloves It’s dangerous to be on twitter. Recently, Tanja Praske from KULTUR-MUSEO-TALK threw a blog stick at me. I had to look it up first but now I take it with white gloves and answer her questions: Who are you? What excites you about your job? I’m many. No, I’m not schizophrenic, but Registrar Trek is a ...
  • Play it again, Registrar! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to do the same exhibition again? Do the opportunities for avoiding mistakes make it different or better? Well, that’s kind of the situation we ran into recently. How it all began In 2010 the museum building needed to take clearing-up measures that ate up much of the budget. ...
  • How Can I Make My Collection More Useful? Working with databases is one of the core responsibilities of a registrar. Often enough, one becomes upset with insufficiencies of the used system. You can imagine my excitement when I learned about the project of Michael Hesemann. He took the effort to develop a web database for his own field of interest, the foraminifera. Voluntarily, ...
  • Looking back on 2013 – the inaugural ARCS conference – A milestone for registrars worldwide By Derek Swallow Cascading crystal chandeliers, softly illuminating Beaux Arts wall murals with gilded foliated reliefs, border the massive ballroom: a breathtaking setting that one participant described as “the Versailles” of Chicago. This expansive, opulent hall in the historic Chicago Hilton Hotel, once hosting glamorous balls and formal receptions, now served as our conference room: a ...
  • Your do what for a living? by Derek Swallow ”So what do you do for a living?” I’m asked. “I work as a museum collections registrar.” I reply, gazing on the now blank look of the asker. I continue, briefly describing my job duties: registering potential acquisitions, tracking the process through to the collections committee and ultimate accessioning. This usually draws the ...
  • Children in the Palace by Alana Cole-Faber A few weeks ago, I took my four-year-old twins to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to see the museum’s beautiful Neapolitan crèche. Of course, once we arrived we were easily distracted by mummies and temples and sculpture and barely made time for the crèche itself. While strolling through one of ...
  • The Museum Registrar as Loans…… by Derek R. Swallow Registrar Royal BC Museum Juggler, mediator, orchestrator, actuator, über collections manager, yoga master, risk manager, project manager, customs broker, transport coordinator, preparator, inventory controller, diplomat, bureaucrat, legal associate, communication hub, document diva or divo, and shepherd: all ...
  • Collections and Exhibitions – a Symbiotic Relationship by Anne T. Lane An exhibition may be conceived in a number of ways. Usually the idea is first, and the text and artifacts are brought together in support of the idea. Sometimes an artifact or group of artifacts embodies an idea, and the rest of the exhibit is built around them. Sometimes, in order to ...
  • On tour with Noah’s helpers When I first saw pictures from the project “Skeletons in the Closet” by Klaus Pichler, I was overwhelmed. Somebody did something I and certainly many of my colleagues have often thought about: someone should take a picture of THAT. The beautiful and absurd compositions that appear when collections and everyday museum work meet. Cautiously, I ...
  • Two paths, one destination What initially started “Registrar Trek: The Next Generation” was Fernando and me writing an article about registrar’s work. Without knowing from the other, coming from two different paths, in fact, from two different continents and backgrounds. Fernando published them side by side in the conversemos sobre section of the ILAM website. Now, we have taken ...
  • Registering furniture and appliances: contemporary art (video-sculptures, multimedia, installations) With the typical humor of a registrar we could introduce the amusing but serious working hypothesis that registering some contemporary art involves dealing with appliances and furniture. But actually, the artist’s talent has found new ways that transcend the search for originality and pleasure of modern art and modifies them into other, dynamic forms of ...
  • Appliances, furniture and beyond – registering technological objects When you work as a registrar you often take for granted that you know what other registrars in other museums do. But when you talk to colleagues from different museum types you often realize that some things are similar and other things are very different. When Fernando told us he was preparing an article on ...
  • The registrar: A strange, endangered breed of animal rarely spotted Recently, I read an email by Alana Cole-Faber, Registrar at the Hawaiian Mission Houses in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. The context doesn’t matter here, but her words were: „…us who are, literally, isolated. Like, on islands. In the middle of oceans. Where registrars are a strange, endangered breed of animal rarely spotted.“ I was thinking again and again ...
  • The critical registrar More about the registrar in the museum’s collection Fernando Almarza Rísquez On previous occasions I have written on ...
  • 5 tips for dealing with registrars Why curators and collection managers often talk at cross-purposes instead of complementing each other to a perfect team The days when museum storage managers were the strong guys with hands like duct covers are long gone. Today, collection management is the field where well-trained specialists in the handling of arts and artefacts are called registrars or ...

This post is also available in: Spanish German Portuguese (Portugal) Greek French

3 comments

  1. Ruth Castro says:

    Hola, me encanta su página. Les comparto un artículo sobre el trabajo de registro http://www.museoarocena.com/basicos-de-registro-y-documentacion-en-museos/

    Saludos.

    ________

    English:

    Hello, I love your page. I share an article about the work of registration
    http://www.museoarocena.com/basicos-de-registro-y-documentacion-en-museos/

    Regards.

    • Fernando says:

      Hola Ruth:

      Muchas gracias por compartir tu artículo y tu experiencia como registradora en el Museo Arocena de Torreón, México.
      Te enviamos nuestros saludos cordiales.

      Fernando

      ________

      English:

      Hello Ruth:

      Thank you very much for sharing your article and your experience as a register in Arocena Museum of Torreon, Mexico.
      We send our best regards.

      Fernando

    • Fernando says:

      Hola Ruth:

      Muchas gracias por compartir tu artículo y tu experiencia como registradora en el Museo Arocena de Torreón, México.
      Te enviamos nuestros saludos cordiales.

      Fernando

      ________

      English:

      Hello Ruth:

      Thank you very much for sharing your article and your experience as a register in Arocena Museum of Torreon, Mexico.
      We send our best regards.

      Fernando

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