Category Archives: Announcements

Ooops- Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections is already out!

Yesterday, I was taken by surprise when our library sent me a mail that they had just received their copy of “Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections” and were about to catalog it. Two hours later I received an email from my dear colleague Susanne Nickel with congratulations as she received her copy. Throughout the whole day, while I was desperately waiting for an important transport to arrive at our museum, the mails from contributors saying “just received my copy” hit my inbox. It seemed like literally EVERYBODY had my book in hand before me.

When I finally came home my heart missed a beat when I saw a parcel sitting in my backyard – soaking wet in the pouring rain. But fortunately, when I opened it, all was well:

P1020449 (2)

The best news is: My publisher, Rowman & Littelfield has provided a special perk for you, our faithful readers: you can get 30% off the list price if you order it directly from them, see this flyer for details (unfortunately, this is only valid for U.S. orders):

Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections Flyer

Now, with one day delay I finally managed to inform you all. Thank you so much for the support and I’m about to produce a more thoughtful celebration post. 🙂


This post is also available in Italian, translated by Marzia Loddo and in Russian translated by Helena Tomashevskaya.


In Search of Reporters for ERC 2016 in Vienna!

Dear readers,

Totally unrelated cat content. But isn't she cute?

Registrar Cat wants YOU to volunteer. Well, kind of…

sometimes life gets in your way. Due to more important family duties I will not be able to attend the European Registrars Conference in Vienna (more info: next month. As I initially planned to inform you all with session reports I am now looking for volunteers to step up. Who will attend and feels like writing something about the event? Or reporting on a single session that inspired him or her? Or a session that made him/her mad? These reports are all very welcome. Please leave a comment if you are willing to volunteer.

Thank you all very much!


High-Flying Project: Reconstructing the Junkers J1

Ever happened to you? You lose sight of a former colleague or fellow student and then, years later, you stumble upon an awesome project, just to discover that exactly this colleague is involved. When I learned that there will be a kickstarter campaign to reconstruct the first all-metall aircraft, the Junkers J1, I, as a technology enthusiast, was excited.

The Junkers J 1

The Junkers J1, undergoing flight preparations in late 1915 in Döberitz, Germany

Even more when I learned that Fabian, my fellow Museum Studies graduate and colleague from the days we developed the clay brick exhibition at the Deutsches Museum in Munich was involved. Of course I had to support the campaign, so here he introduces the project:

Dear Collegues,

we start on May 2nd, one of the largest support campaign for a museum project in Europe at Kickstarter.

It is one of the most important pioneer aircraft, the Junkers J1 that should be reconstructed in a 1:1 scale model. The J1 was the world’s first all-metal aircraft and it had its first flight 100 years ago. It was such an important masterpiece of aviation, that it was exhibited in the Deutsches Museum Munich. However, the plane was unfortunately completely destroyed by a World War II bombing raid.

Our campaign will to support the detailed reconstruction by the technical museum “Hugo Junkers” in Dessau. Please help us to make our campaign a success by posting the J1 Project page ( Join in at our Kickstarter campaign ( For every amount donated, we have come up with something very special: a limited Junkers J1 wristwatch, a J1 model plane, a postcard set with 24 facsimile designs, aviator glasses and more.

Only when many supporters participate in the crowdfunding campaign, we can finance this ambitious project and rebuild the Junkers J1 on the basis of the original plans.

Many Greetings from Munich

Fabian Knerr



Whooops – Little Registrar sent a note to you all, but shouldn’t have…

Dear Readers,

please accept my apologies that our faithful newsletter informed you about a post that was password protected. This was a mistake, as we are testing our new data logger at the moment and I needed a website to test if we all could have access to our climate dates from all over the world (or, in fact, from all our storages and offices). Didn’t have an idea that this would be sent out via our RSS feed just like any other blog post.

Well, anyway, to keep you in the loop: what is happening at the moment?

Over Christmas I was experimenting with arduino and other microcontroller boards. Of course, even if I try to do something just for fun, I end up doing something museum related. As I needed something to build, I built a data logger. And if it’s already built, why not take it to work with me?

There it glows... the experimentation zone at Christmas.

There it glows… the laboratory at Christmas.

At the moment one little prototype of the “Little Registrar” keeps a good watch over our climate in one of our offsite storages and sends its data to a website. And since this week this other little fellow records the climate in a storage room at our museum and logs it to a SD-Card:


As you see by the q-tip that serves as the restart button this is all in the prototyping stage at the moment. In fact, the “Q-tip Registrar” was a quick answer to an urgency call by our conservators. Assembled with parts I still had at hand, including an old cardboard box, a screw anchor, some ethafoam and, yeah, a q-tip.

Those who follow @RegistrarTrek on twitter know that I promised to write what we did and how and I will do, as soon as we passed the prototyping stage (and stopped creating e-mail bombs).

Have a great weekend, all!

This post is also available in Russian translated by Helena Tomashevskaya.


Happy Third Birthday, Registrar Trek!

JpegWas it already a year ago we raised our glasses to celebrate the second birthday of our project? Time passes so quickly! It’s been a turbulent and busy year, I guess for all of us. For me as the administrator it was especially packed: in my day job as the collections manager of the TECHNOSEUM there was much to do with managing taking over a large collection of broadcasting equipment and finding space for it in an already crowded storage area. At night and on the weekends I was busy writing about managing unmanaged collections. One of my cats was hit by a car and badly injured but fortunately is recovering and nearly back to normal. Of course, the departure of Derek as an author was a big loss, too. Well, this is a weak try to apologize for not being as active as in previous years in finding new contributors and topics for this project. I hope in 2016 I will have more time again to keep watching our profession and dig out more stories.

Anyway, we had some great stories: the most read post with the most active contributors was “How NOT to number objects“. We had many readers asking to have a follow-up on current best practice in object marking. If someone feels like writing something about that, even if it is just for one group of objects, this would be a great new series, helping people who are unsure, especially after this post! Nearly as popular was the post “Put a lid on it” by Anne T. Lane and the real-world examination of the damage light does on post-it notes by Judith Haemmerle. We saw some great new books being published, the forth edition of Basic Condition Reporting, Nomenclature 4.0 and The Rights and Reproductions Handbook were presented here. We also started a new series, “Failures in Figures“.

Will write something about this, soon.

Will write something about this, soon.

The topic of unmanaged collections was strong this year and even when the book is published I want to keep it as a focus, because I think those stories from the trenches really help those struggling with their own collections. The European Registrars Conference is in Vienna this year (Yay to our colleagues from the Austrian Registrars Committee!) And I hope I will be able to attend and write a report. There are still some promised reports from ARCS in New Orleans, hopefully coming soon!

As more and more of our readers coming here with mobile devices I hope I will find the time to adapt our layout to be more mobile friendly or find alternative solutions for this issue.

So much for a lookout on 2016, keep following us and keep wearing those gloves!



Season’s Greetings 2015

I’ve found this amazing video showing how “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” is said in sign language in English, Russian, Dutch, Chinese, Australian, Japanese, Finnish, Austrian, Hungarian, Swedish, French, American and German:

In the spirit of this video, let’s overcome all barriers! The whole Registrar Trek Team wishes you a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful New Year 2016!

Merry Christmas in different languages


Unmanaged Collections – With a Little Help from my Friends

Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections - Book CoverAt the beginning of this year I asked you all if you were willing to join me in the journey of writing a book about managing previously unmanaged collections. And you did. Many of you were willing to support the project with stories, photos, comments, thoughts and encouraging remarks.
So today, I can proudly announce that I have handed in the manuscript and you can already find the book announced in the ”Essential New Books for Museum Professionals“ by Rowman & Littlefield on page 7.
Last week our colleagues in the U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving and in Germany we have a similar tradition of saying thank you at the end of the harvesting season, celebrating the ”Erntedankfest“. Today, it is my time to say thank you to all of you who contributed to the project! Thank you for investing your time, your knowledge and your thoughts!
Especially, I want to take the opportunity to thank my personal ”board of advisers“. If you are writing a book, you have to be aware of many pitfalls. But even if you aware of them in general, you sometimes need a second pair of eyes to spot them.

Pitfall #1: I know what I’m writing about!

Of course you know what you are writing about, otherwise you wouldn’t write the book. But your writing is shaped by your personal experience. You need someone who is as deep into your profession as yourself to help you see where you are missing important points or where your advise to the reader could backfire, given special circumstances you haven’t thought about. And you need this someone to discuss conundrums and definition questions with, because not everything is as clear and logical as you think it is, a fact that you only realize when you start writing about it.
For my book, my friend and colleague Darlene Bialowski, Principal of Darlene Bialowski Art Services, and a former Chair of the Registrars Committee of the American Alliance of Museums, who herself has seen a great many unmanaged collections, took this very time consuming job. She really read every chapter at least twice, sometimes more often, made suggestions and we discussed many aspects via email. Until today I don’t know how she crammed all of this into her already tight schedule, but I’m eternally grateful that she did. Thank you so much, Darlene!

Pitfall #2: A registrar’s way is not necessarily the best way!

If you are working in a profession you become extremely focused on the aspects that are most important in your everyday work. This lets you miss some aspects which are equally important if you look at the big picture. To help you see them, you need someone from a profession closely related to your own profession, but not from the same profession.
I’m grateful that Susan L. Maltby, Conservator at Maltby & Associates Inc., took the responsibility to read the manuscript from a conservator’s perspective and enriched it with many practical ideas as well as pointing me to some parts of the text where I missed either that artifacts could be damaged or health hazards I hadn’t thought about. Thank you so much, Sue!

Pitfall #3: What are you talking about?

My book is aimed at those who have never dealt with an unmanaged collection. Preferably people who have had a basic training in collections care and preventive conservation, but I also wanted the book to be usable as a guide for those who have never been in touch with the collections profession. But how could I be sure that someone who never cared for a collection understands what I’m writing about? I needed someone with no connection to the whole field of collections care who had the imaginative ability to put him- or herself into the shoes of someone who is confronted with the task of managing an unmanaged collection the first time.
Well, it turns out I have a friend who has the imaginative power to put himself in the shoes of a 19th century firemen on a steamship or a soldier fighting at Bull Run in the Civil War, so I asked Paul N. Pallansch of Up-Close Realism, Silver Spring, if he was willing to put himself into the shoes of a newly minted collections manager confronted with a chaotic unmanaged collection and only my book to help him. I’m glad he said yes, and I was quite relived when he wrote back that he had his doubts when he read my original question but now, after he read it, he thinks he could do it if he looks all the things up he doesn’t know about collections care. That’s exactly what I wanted the reader to think and feel like after reading. Thank you so much, Paul.

The manuscript goes now through the editing process now and I’ll keep you posted on the further progress of this project. As it looks now, ”Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections – A Practical Guide for Museums“ (Link to publisher’s catalog with pre-order option) will be available early next year.

Best wishes



I was quite surprised when I realized that Rupert Shepherd (@rgs1510 ) nominated our project (or its English twitter branch @RegistrarTrek) in the #TwitteratiChallenge. Reading his blog post about it I learned that he was as surprised by his own nomination like I am now. Once recovered from the shock, Helen (@crazymuseumlady) nominated us in the same challenge.

Now, what’s the trouble? Registrar Trek is a project that is alive because of its various contributors, the authors as well as the translators and the readers who read, comment, like, share and tweet about it. So, seriously, who is entitled to say: “challenge accepted” in this case?

As @RegistrarTrek was nominated and I, Angela Kipp, am taking care of the English twitter account at the moment, it seems legit that I take the challenge. But that’s just where the trouble starts. My own educator days, when I explained how the Enigma worked or how coffee is made are long over. I work in the background, far away from the challenges my educating colleagues at the front-house face every day. And the ones I would first turn to when I need an educational advice are actively interacting with visitors, school children, adults, students, toddlers, questioners and vandals. I may find them doing a #tweetup but most of them and most of the time they are out there inspiring people face-to-face, not on twitter. So, I will broaden the scope of this challenge and nominate people who do great stuff and who can be found – among loads of other places – on Twitter:

My nominees

First of all I nominate @ceciliapeartree. She’s an active collections and documentation professional who keeps pace of new developments and doesn’t shy away from pondering new technologies in collections management. Besides she writes mystery novels. A lot of them. And she even brought a little drone to her session at @ERC2014. I would love to nominate her “Coolest Collections Professional Ever” (CCPE), but as this price doesn’t exist, she’s my first in the #TwitteratiChallenge.

Then, @MarkBSchlemmer who invented #ITweetMuseums a hashtag used mainly by museum professionals who visit other museums and share what they see. A whole new way of experiencing museum visits (you may also follow @ITweetMuseums).

Linda Norris @lindanorris does amazing projects around the world, writes books, has a great blog called (Brace yourself, fellow registrars and documentalists!) “The Uncataloged Museum” and a joint blog with German and Russian colleagues called “Museum, Politics and Power” which was designed for the ICOM conference 2014 but has many interesting thoughts.

My next nominees are two museum professionals who are active and inspiring tweeters: Alli Rico @alli_rico, a young emerging museum professional whom I had some inspiring collections based discussions with and who has her own blog called Alli’s Adventures in Museums and Suzy Morgan (@Kw33n5uzicus) who is a conservator, editor of the Multilingual Bookbinding and Conservation Dictionary and always fun to tweet with.

What to do?

  • Within 7 days of being nominated by somebody else, you need to identify colleagues that you rely on or go to for support and challenge. It might be a good idea to check that they are happy to be challenged so that the #TwitterChallenge chain doesn’t break down.
  • Record a video announcing your acceptance of the challenge, followed by a pouring of your (chosen) drink over a glass of ice. Then, the drink is to be lifted with a ‘cheers’ before nominating your five educators to participate in the challenge. (This is optional for the technically challenged).
  • Write your own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost within 7 days nominating your chosen participants who then become part of #TwitteratiChallenge. If you do not have your own blog, try @Staffrm.
  • The educator that is now newly nominated has 7 days to compose their own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost and identify who their top 5 go to educators are.
  • It’s optional to make a donation to your chosen charity but if you do you may want to identify one or two charities that may be of interest to others. For example, Debra Kidd’s highlighted the World Wide Education Project as a great charity to support or Nepal needs all the help it can get after the devastating earthquake.

The rules

There are only three rules:

  1. You cannot knowingly include someone you work with in real life.
  2. You cannot list somebody that has already been named if you are already made aware of them being listed on #TwitteratiChallenge. I realise this will get more complex over time.
  3. You will need to copy and paste the title of this blogpost, the rules and what to do information into your own blog post.

Wait, what about that video thing?

Okay, here you go:

  1. print out this picture
  2. cut along the white lines to get separate glass, beer and bottle opener
  3. open cut-out bottle with cut-out opener
  4. take cut-out glass
  5. pour imaginary beer
  6. say “cheers”
  7. say “I nominate @ceciliapeartree, @MarkBSchlemmer, @lindanorris, @alli_rico and @Kw33n5uzicus.”
  8. imagine me doing it on video

In the spirit of Nigel Lashbrook: inspiring people to challenge existing rules should be an integral part of education. Kudos to the educators who do!


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 a new project I’m working on and I ask you to join.

In my working life I’ve stumbled upon one conundrum of our profession time and again: there are really great books and online resources about best practice in collections management – the wonderful 5th Edition of Museum Registration Methods readily comes to mind, but of course there are much more. You read what is best for the artifacts, how to treat them, document them, store them… These books are written from the perspective of ”best practices“ and as we all strive to reach the best for our collections, that’s a good thing. Only that the starting position is often all but ”best practice“. Take Antony Aristovoulou ‘s story ”Match-ball for the Registrar“ as a prime example: being contracted for relocating and registering a collection of tennis artifacts and discover that all is stored in one giant shipping container and you have to start from scratch, including sourcing locations and material.

hhAll too often, especially for small and middle sized museums with historical, agricultural and/or science and technology collections there is a gap between what is written in books and the real world. Reading about best practices is great and necessary, but standing in an old shed with a leaking roof and heaps of rusty things that were euphemistically called an agricultural collection in your contract you are miles away from taking your acid-free cardboard and start building a custom box for a single artifact.

To make a long story short: I’m about to write a practical guide to manage previously unmanaged collections. This book will be written with the worst case scenario in mind, starting with nothing than a collection in peril and working step-by-step towards improving the situation 1. It will be written for the practitioner in the field who has to deal with all possible and impossible circumstances while trying to get her/his collection managed. Especially it will be written for people who are thrown into this situation without having it done before – may it be job starters or colleagues who have only worked in larger and/or well organized institutions so far.

DSCF0373This is where you, the readers, come in. This book will be much better and encouraging with real world examples. Sure, everyone loves to be the best practice example but what I’ll need here are examples of how difficulties were tackled and how issues were resolved. How collections that were in peril were brought to a better stage. Maybe still far away from being ”best practice“ but still much better than before. I’m collecting all kinds of worst case examples, brought in from veteran museum professionals young and old who have encountered unbelievable situations in collections management (I’ve seen a main sewage pipe right above the shelves of an archive, so, the possibilities are endless…).

Every now and then I will present you some aspects I’m writing about here on this blog and will ask for your experiences and thoughts. It would be great if you would be willing to share them. I promise that I won’t abuse your willingness to share and will always check if the way I want to use some of those examples in the book is acceptable for the original author and her/his institution.

Thanks for reading and best wishes


This post is also available in Russian translated by Helena Tomashevskaya.

  1. Janice Klein and I have written a short article about ”Tackling Uncatalogued Collections“ in the March/April 2015 edition of the ”museum“ magazine of the American Alliance of Museums (p. 59-63), here you will find some additional ideas and the general direction of this project, although being uncatalogued is just one of the issues of an unmanaged collection.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Registrar Trek!

Good news: we are entering the third year of Registrar Trek!

2nd_birthdaySo, after we looked back on a tremendous year 2014 recently, what does 2015 have in store?

It’s always hard to tell if you don’t have a crystal ball to look into. Well, and if we had one in our collection as registrars, would we allow someone to use it? And do crystal balls work if you wear white gloves or nitril gloves? Questions upon questions…

What we can promise is that in 2015 we will keep you entertained with articles and stories from the field. Sadly, Derek retired, so, unfortunately, his next article will be also his last one. But it’s a blast, so stay tuned for the story of Lennon’s Rolls Royce!

During the holidays my hubby and I dived into the world of microcontrollers and yes, there might be some registrar’s prototyping ahead. Or an accidentally destroyed arduino. Or both. Let us just experiment a little bit more…

2015 will see the second ARCS conference, this time in New Orleans so I’m sure we will have a report. We will continue to support good museum documentation and we hope that many of you use the hashtag #MuseumDocumentation on Twitter. And I know that wherever you work and wherever you are there are wonderful, untold registrar’s stories we all want to hear, so send them via

Thanks for reading, stay with us and keep us posted!