Category Archives: Announcements

Season’s Greetings – Here’s to the (unsung) Heroes

cleaning-lady-258520_640One year has passed since last Christmas? I can’t believe it! It seems like yesterday since the last season’s greetings.

This year we have seen loads of incredible stuff at Registrar Trek: We’ve solved a Trilemma, attended the European Registrars Conference, added loads of great stuff to our toolkit (for example how to store buttons), tackled barcoding, spoke up for children in museums, found bombs and chased birds and bats in our collections. We’ve seen Matt coming to the cinemas with „Art and Craft“ and supported Rupert Shepherd’s initiative of bringing #MuseumDocumentation into public focus. To sum up: we told many stories worth telling.

But when we raise our glass today, I don’t want to say „Here’s to us, the collections people!“ Recently, there was a funny bit about registrars on Peabody’s Lament ( and in the comment section the author T.H. Grey stated „…we’ve often heard registrars refer to themselves as the “unsung heroes” of museums.“ Well, this may be, but we aren’t the real unsung heroes. When I think of unsung heroes in museum business, immediately the housekeeping and cleaning staff comes to mind.

If they are ever referred to in the museum world, it’s with a funny note, often when they clean something that wasn’t meant to be cleaned, like the installation “When it Starts Dripping From the Ceiling” by Martin Kippenberger in 2011: The prejudice that only cleaning ladies are so dumb and uneducated that they can’t tell art from trash is so strong that most people think they are responsible for the destruction of the work „Untitled (Bathtub)“ (created by Joseph Beuys in 1960 and accidentally scrubbed clean in 1973) , while it was in fact scrubbed by two members of a German political party who wanted to clean the dishes from a celebration in it ( Strange that reports on artworks destroyed by other museum staffers or visitors (,28804,1956922_1956921_1956906,00.html) never come with the same malicious joy…

officeThere is never a report on how cleaning staff saves millions of dollars in conservation and restoration costs every year because they avoid damage from dust, keep museums free from pests and report incidents and issues as soon as they see them. And they do see them, if we just tell them what to look for. It’s certainly no fun cleaning toilets and offices, especially those offices stuffed with paper where it’s really hard to find free spaces to clean (somehow immediately registrar’s and curator’s offices come to mind…). But keeping them clean is one foundation of our work: keeping dust, mold, pests and all the other bad guys out, so our collections are safe for the future. But in all those „keep up the good work“ speeches at the end of a successful year, thanking the board, the friends of the museum, the volunteers, the staffers in the collections, education, exhibitions, marketing and administrative departments, I’ve heard seldom a word about the cleaning staff.

So, at least on Registrar Trek, we are raising our glasses to you, our faithful housekeeping staff, partners in collections care and pest management!

And from the whole Registrar Trek Team to our faithful readers and supporters:

We wish you Merry Christmas and a happy healthy and successful New Year 2015!



Final preparations for Helsinki

Registrar Cat checks if documents are complete for the trip.

Registrar Cat checks if documents are complete for the trip.

Things are busy right now, so you might realize we are not as quick with adding new material the next few weeks. There are various reasons, including that there was a major server issue with deleted webspace that forced me to backup to a previous version (some might have realized we were offline a few days) and that I’m preparing the site to be fully functional in French, too, which means some additional effort. Oh, yeah, and there is my little side job as the collection manager of the TECHNOSEUM, along with garden, man and cats. But especially, I’m busy preparing my presentation and trip to Helsinki.

I’m all excited to speak at the European Registrars Conference about Registrar Trek (see full programme here: and hope my colleagues will like it. As far as I can see, I’m the only registrar from a Science and Technology Museum attending, so I somehow feel like a representative for an entire museum field and hope I don’t mess this up. I’m looking forward to meet many colleagues there who I only know via email, twitter or linkedin so far and I’m especially glad that Registrar Trek contributors Tracey Berg-Fulton and Derek Swallow will be there.

I guess there will be much to write about when I’m coming back and I hope to inspire some colleagues to contribute their stories and articles with my presentation.

See you after ERC 2014!


Registrar Trek goes Helsinki!


I’m all excited. Last week I got the call that I will do a session at the European Registrar Conference 2014 in Helsinki! See the programme here:

The session will be called:
The Next Generation: Registrar Blogs and Virtual Networks

I’m happy that Registrar Trek author Derek Swallow will join me and I hope to meet some other Registrar Trekkers and guest authors there.

Well, I won’t tell you what I will say in the presentation. No need to spoil the fun. But I can show you what my session proposal looked like:

A voice for Registrars and Collection Specialists around the world
The project „Registrar Trek: The Next Generation“

The focus of this session is to introduce the project „Registrar Trek: The Next Generation“.

For professional exchange and development the registrar or collection manager depends
on colleagues outside her/his own institution, often outside her/his own country. It takes
years to built a personal professional network. Job-starters, multitasking professionals in
small institutions and colleagues in countries where the professions in collection
management are still in the state of development are often left to their own devices. The
major obstacles are language barriers and finding colleagues for thought exchange.

Out of this observation the project Registrar Trek was born. Core of the project are texts
written by collection professionals or people closely related to this field. The spectrum
ranges from serious thoughts on difficult registration issues to lighthearted observations
out of everyday collections work. Starting as a small platform for articles about registration
and collections management in January 2013 in three languages (English, Spanish,
German) it grew to a source of information and exchange with 32 translators from 19
countries providing 16 different languages.

In the outcome, it serves two major purposes: to create a virtual place where collection
specialists from all over the world can feel at home and understood and as an embassy
for collections work in the virtual world. To say it in the words of one of our readers:

„I learn something from each of the articles, even if it’s just that things could be worse.“

See you in Helsinki!


A Tweet a Day Keeps Museum Documentation Ready to Play!


CIDOC – Conference Dresden 2014 – Call for Papers deadline extended

Great CIDOC-Conference is coming up in September. For those of you who haven’t read it before:

Dear Colleagues,

The call for papers deadline for CIDOC Conference 2014 has been extended till 20th March.

“Access and Understanding – Networking in Digital Era”

The annual conference of CIDOC, the International Committee for Documentation of ICOM, will take place from 6th – 11th of September 2014 in Dresden, Germany.
Anyone interested from museums and cultural organizations is cordially invited to participate. More details about the conference: .
Discussions and papers will focus on the access to museum collections and cultural heritage in the digital age. Linked data information provide scientists with new and wider perspectives. Experts from museums around the world will address the following themes

• Strategies and Policies in Documentation
• Processes in Museum Documentation
• Museum Documentation as Profession
• Networking
• Metadata
• Multilingual Terminology
• Digital Long Term Preservation
• Intangible Cultural Heritage
• GIS-Applications in Cultural Heritage
• Digital Documentation in Archaeology

Yours sincerely,

Martina Krug
c/o Staedt. Museum Hann. Muenden
CIDOC Board Member


Happy anniversary, Registrar Trek!

celebrationOn January 2nd 2013 we started a project with the purpose to inform the public about collections work and bring collections people around the world together. Now, a year later, we are a team of four authors and 32 translators from 19 countries, providing 16 languages.

I guess you, our faithful readers, are more interested in what we have in stock for the next year of Registrar Trek than in statistics*.

First of all, be insured that we will keep you entertained with stories and articles from the world of collections management. And we are happy for every new contribution you will send in. Our plan is to hunt for more practical hands-on stories, examples of good practice in registering, good storage solutions and smart ideas in documentation and collections management. We will even have some real world stories that will end with questions like “How would you decide?” leaving you with the possibility to chew on the problem until we reveal the outcome in one of the next posts.

Matt will keep us informed about art forger Mark Landis and his aliases, Anne has some more to tell “off the shelf” and Derek will take you all into the fascination of registrar’s work. Angela is planning to launch a small fun series called “The Museum of Spam”.

And of course, there will be stories and articles from guest authors. We’ve actually got one in the pipeline from a data base enthusiast and there are several others promised.

So, stay with us and stay tuned!

Your Registrar Trek Team


* Statistics: We published 62 posts, had 12,000 visitors who visited our blog nearly 20,000 times. Over 300 subscribed to our RSS-feed.

This post is also available in Italian, translated by Silvia Telmon.


Season’s Greetings from Registrar Trek

Working on an installation of 173 coffee makers. Still more to come...

Working on an installation of 173 coffee makers. Still more to come…

The special exhibition area is abandoned. Where only half an hour ago artifacts were put into racks or cleaned by conservators, everything is quiet. The last working day before Christmas. Usually, that’s the day to arrange papers and thoughts, review the past year, look ahead to upcoming projects and share some of these thoughts with colleagues.

This year is different. Christmas „catches“ me in the middle of the installation of our upcoming special exhibition, on electrical household appliances. Last year was packed with taking care of vacuum cleaners, pressing irons, food processors, hair-dryers, coffee makers… well over 1500 objects were picked for exhibition, many more were researched and their data corrected in the data base. Now everything must be put in the right place, get individual treatment (i.e. fixing of loose parts or cleaning) and a correct label. No contemplative working process that invites reflectiveness. But I don’t want to leave for the holidays without my own personal review and outlook, especially because this time I can share it with colleagues all around the world:

Aside from the challenges of the aforementioned collections exhibition the last year was defined by the start and growth of Registrar Trek. We went live on January 2nd and I’m sure that there will be time for a special review on our first anniversary. It’s great to see how a weird idea from two people has developed within one year into a project that is known and supported by so many colleagues around the globe.

Christmas tree at the TECHNOSEUM: decorated with household appliances. TECHNOSEUM, picture by Klaus Luginsland

Christmas tree at the TECHNOSEUM: decorated with household appliances… TECHNOSEUM, picture by Klaus Luginsland

The financial crisis in North America and Europe is clearly noticeable, especially in the cultural sector. I know that many of our readers and some members of the Registrar Trek team are trying desperately to get back into a job in the field of collections management. Unfortunately, all that we can do is keep our fingers crossed and wish them the best of luck, courage and the power of endurance.

Those who are in permanent contracts feel the growing pressure of taking over more responsibilities because the work must be done with fewer colleagues and declining budgets. Combining professional ethics and financial needs is a difficult task. Amidst of all this trouble, let us not forget that the collections field is not the only one affected by the crisis. I have seen many discussions on professional groups and listservs about how money is spent on the wrong things and wrong projects, and it seems to me that every colleague envies the other for funded projects. Personally, I feel that’s not a successful approach. As registrars, collection managers, curators of collections or documentation officers we are in the same boat as conservators, educators, guides, guards, curators, marketing people… The boat is called „museum,“ and we will need each others’ skills to avoid shipwreck.

...obviously, our marketing department likes the upcoming exhibition as much as we collections people do. TECHNOSEUM, picture by Klaus Luginsland

…obviously, our marketing department likes the upcoming exhibition as much as we collections people do. TECHNOSEUM, picture by Klaus Luginsland

So, for the new year, let us do what we collections people do best: take care of the things that need close attention to detail, help with paperwork and organizational tasks, and, in the figurative sense, wrap the frayed nerves – our own and those of our colleagues.

I’m really glad that the Registrar Trek Team does consist of so many professions: there are of course registrars and collection managers, but also conservators, curators, marketing specialists, visitor guides and people from totally different fields. This variety keeps the exchange of thoughts interesting and the development of this project joyful. For the upcoming year, we have more exciting stories and articles in the pipeline, so stay tuned.

Now I’m going to gather some waste and stack a few pallets before I leave for Christmas. But before that, in the name of the whole Registrar Trek Team:

We wish you Merry Christmas and a happy healthy and successful New Year 2014!


This text is also available in Italian translated by Silvia Telmon.


A Captain Leaves The Ship

boat-85601_640There are good days and there are bad days. This is a bad, sad day. A day I hoped would never come – or if it did, then in the far, far future when Registrar Trek is a myth the old registrars tell the young registrars about.

This project started out as a project of two people: Fernando and me. We had been exchanging thoughts for … well, almost exactly a year. We laughed, had fun, inspired each other and out of this, Registrar Trek was born. A small project at first. Two people writing articles and translating them in their mother tongue. When we went live in January, we soon gained more authors, translators and more languages. Registrar Trek grew rapidly, up to 37 contributors.

Rapid growth is great, but it’s difficult to keep an eye on everything. So, while I was busy managing new team members, adding translations and writing stuff, I didn’t notice that one team member was not happy with how things were going. A very important team member, my Captain (we often joked that his role model was Captain Jean-Luc Picard and mine was Admiral Kathryn Janeway).

The problem with working with team members from all over the world via internet is that you don’t meet people face to face. In the normal museum business your eyes or your intuition tell you that something isn’t understood the way it is said or that one team member is not happy. When this occurs, you could grab two cups of coffee, close the office door and sit down and talk. On the internet you have to rely on what you read from others, a very limited view of what is going on in another human being.

Maybe it was words I wrote that weren’t understood the way I meant them, maybe it was other things I did or said (or didn’t do or didn’t say), but the fact is that Fernando has decided to leave the Registrar Trek. No chance to reach him, no chance to set things straight, no chance to hold him back. I always said that if one of us stopped having fun, this would be the end of Registrar Trek. And in a way I still feel I don’t want to steer that ship without my captain, co-founder and co-administrator. So my first impulse was to close the project down.

But then, there are all of the great colleagues who offered their help with translations and the many people I know are working on contributions for Registrar Trek. And of course there are you, the readers of the blog, who keep us motivated to invest our free time in articles and translations. So, I feel a responsibility to carry on. I can’t promise that we can do it as well as we did before. Now, the captain is missing! But we will carry on.



Then they were 20…

Picture by Nico Kaiser

Picture by Nico Kaiser via flickr

On July 8 we called out to the world that we are in need of translators. The reaction was overwhelming. When we called out we were four authors Matthew Leininger, Anne T. Lane, Fernando Almarza Rísquez and myself and three translators, Liliana Rêgo, Araceli Galán and Georgia Flouda.

Within one and a half week our little team of seven grew to twenty! They came from nearly all cardinal directions and a broad range of professions:

There are the museum studies and museology students Patrícia Melo from Portugal and Carolina Vaz from Brazil.

Then I’m glad we have a professional translator on board: Salvador Martínez lives in Spain and translates Spanish/French and Spanish/English for a living, but agreed to lend us a hand for free!

Then the great colleagues who work in the jobs this blog is all about: Maria O’Malley, the Collections Manager/Registrar at the Southstreet Seaport Museum in New York, Lucía Villarreal, the Exhibitions Registrar at the Museo del Prado in Madrid and Cleopatra, the Registrar of a photography collection in a Folklore Research Institute in Greece and Sylviane Vaucheret, the Documentation Officer for Natural History at the National Museum of Ireland.

Then two colleagues from the profession that is closest to our own in respect of philosophy, viewpoints and aims: Molly Hope is a textile conservator from New York who already translated for the Ixchel Museum of Textiles in Guatemala and Rosana Calderón, is a Senior Conservator at the National History Museum of the National Anthropology and History Institute in Mexico.

And I’m especially glad an proud of the four colleagues that looked over the fence of their own professions and are willing to help us, because museum work is always a combined effort, no matter if you work in collections, education, exhibition and/or marketing:

Jiska Verbouw works as a science communicator at the Museum for Natural Sciences in Brussels. Arina Miteva is working for Smart Museum, a company that develops museum mobile apps. Tegan Kehoe works as a museum educator at the Old South Meeting House in Boston. Phineas Chauke is the Regional Marketing Officer at National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.

With this great new team we will explore new languages, adding Dutch, French, Russian, Zulu, Shona and Shangaan. And we will travel onwards to new galaxies… oops, wrong film… to new stories, articles and other helpful contents for the registrars, collection managers and curators of collections around the world.

We will also explore a new medium: you can follow us on twitter ( Here we will announce any new post or article on this blog and more things that we find interesting.

Stay tuned!


This post is also available in French, translated by Sylviane Vaucheret


Join the Registrar Trek as translator

Hi there!

Seems we missed celebrating the first half year of Registrar Trek due July 1st and the 200th subscriber to our feeds! Well anyway, never too late to celebrate, so

Cheers to all our faithful visitors out there!


As you can see, you come from all parts of the world: registrars, collections managers, curators of collections, students of the arts, art history, history, museums studies and many, many people who are just interested in what goes on behind the scenes in a museum.

As numbers show, we have been visited by nearly 10,000 people until now, who have read nearly 18,000 pages. This is great! But no reason to lean back, but to lean in. As we said in our starting post in January it’s our aim to give people the possibility to read registrar’s stuff in their own language. To achieve this, we need


If you are speaking two languages and are willing to translate something, please, drop us a line at or write a comment.
We are not expecting anyone to translate ALL our articles and posts. We are looking for people who have read some of our stuff and say “Hey, this should be available in my mother tongue” and then translate this story or article. Every language is welcome, but especially welcome are people who are able to translate in the five languages we already have: English, Spanish, German, Portuguese or Greek.
We are enthusiasts, so we can’t offer you any money for that. But we can offer you our appreciation and the possibility to work in a wonderful multi-national team of museum enthusiasts.

Talk soon!
Angela and Fernando