A registrar’s toolkit

springcleaningA registrar needs a whole bunch of materials to work with. They may vary from museum type to museum type and from working setup to working setup, but in 2013 a brainstorming among registrars on the RC-AAM listserv put together a list of useful tools and supplies that covers the needs for many registrar’s duties. The Registrar Trekkers (authors and translators of this blog) had a look at this list and added some more items. After we finished our brainstorming we give the list to you, our readers. Feel free to add what is missing in the comments section and we will update the list from time to time.


Working setup:

Lightweight Toolbox
LED Flashlight
Extra batteries
Small Notebook or Tablet PC
A good computer software! We don’t normally think of software as a “tool,” but without it, cataloging is impractical and making the catalog available to others is impractical to impossible.
Plastic plank or board for support of notebook or paper


Personal setup:

Apron (or lab coat)
Nitrile Gloves
Cotton Gloves
Dust mask
Fisherman’s vest (with multiple pockets)
Optivisor (2x)



Inspection Set (Telescoping, includes magnetitic pick-up, LED mini light, alligator clip, LEXan mirror, magnifier)
Pencil Sharpener
Fine Sewing Needle
Curved needle
Measuring Calipers
Fabric Tape Measure
Metal tape measure
Anti-static brush
Paint Brushes (3 size)
Blower Brush (Small)
Blower Brush (Med)
Cotton Swabs
Tweezers (5 pc Basic Set)
Bone Folder
Photo Scale (Set of 2)
A smallish self-healing cutting mat
A cork-back stainless steel ruler.
high-quality snap-blade knife, knife with exchangeable blades (i.e. X-Acto, Olfa…)
high-quality all-around scissors (i.e. Dahle…)
Embroidery scissors
Fabric Scissors (is there a difference to am embroidery scissor?)
scissor to cut sticky tape


Consumable Supply:

White Viynl Eraser
2H Pencils (12 ct)
All-Stabilo Pencil White
All-Stabilo Pencil Black
Tyvek Tags (2″x3″) 100 ct
Acid-Free Artifact Tags (1.5″ x 3.5 “) 100 ct
Spunbonded Reemay (25 ct.)
Twill Tape (1/2”) 36 Yard
Mercerized white cotton and black cotton thread
Cotton Balls
Knife Blades (5 ct)
B-72 Base Coat (Fluid)
Wash Bottle (For Dis. H2O)
Methyl Cellulose (1.5 oz) (some people prefer other adhesives)
Jar, Specimen (Mix Methyl Cellulose)
Plastic Bags
Velcro brand hook-and-loop fastening – non-adhesive (can be cut to size)


2 thoughts on “A registrar’s toolkit”

  1. I just assembled my first Seville Classics Ultra HD rolling storage cabinet, and I am floored! It assembles and is engineered as if only Germans worked on it, but it comes from California (USA)! Everything is so well thought-out. They even broke the back panel into two pieces so you could attach the top one upside down to the wood top without contorting yourself as the thing was inverted on the floor. They even provided a magnetic-tip screwdriver that is just small enough to fit in all the spaces it needs to turn in. They thought of everything! Best of all, it’s not very expensive. They make other storage cabinets and worktables also. You can even get two units and assemble them as a double that shares one top. The singles are designed to roll right under their worktables.
    So, if you need tool storage, I recommend them highly.
    Here’s the link:


    By the way, these may be useful for archival storage, but I really don’t know. I know the drawer pads are not, but they don’t even have to be put in. The drawer glides have some plastic parts, so they may be an archival concern. Otherwise, they are stainless steel with stainless steel ball bearings (very smooth action). The finish is stainless steel and powder-coated steel. The tops are solid maple, but I don’t know if they have a finish. They are very smooth, so they may be at least oiled. The bumpers are some sort of flexible, rubber-like plastic.

  2. I have an installation kit for non-museum-venue installations where I can’t count on anyone else having what I need. I’ve found some of the most useful items in my kit (which is now big enough to need an entire small suitcase to itself) are office supplies (including a rainbow of Sharpies), a small bubble level, a clip-on book light, and small cards wrapped with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

    I’d love to see what everyone else has that’s maybe less expected than the traditional setup!

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