Tag Archives: museums

Send me your loan forms!

We’re coming up to the autumn conference season, and once again I’ll be going to the annual conference of CIDOC, the international committee for documentation that forms part of ICOM, the International Council of Museums – this year it’s in Heraklion, in Crete. Before the conference proper, I’ll be running a workshop on Sunday 30 September, along with colleagues from CIDOC’s Documentation Standards Working Group, for developers of digital collections management systems, focussed on the development of ‘EODEM’, an Exhibition Object Digital Exchange Mechanism.

We plan to kick off the development of a mechanism that lets users of different collections management systems share as easily as possible the information about their objects, and those objects’ requirements, that is needed when objects are lent from one institution to another. The lender should be able to just press a button to share the data, and the borrower just press another to import it into their system. This would eliminate a huge amount of the retyping that goes on when different museums exchange information about objects that they are lending and borrowing.

First, though, we need to identify the information that museums need to share. We’ll base the core information that identifies and describes the objects themselves on an existing standard, Object ID; but we need to know what information museums needs to share about borrowed objects’ requirements.

And here’s where I hope you can help us: the easiest way to do this will be for us to look at the information different museums request when they borrow objects. This is often requested using a ‘loan object information request form’, which the lending museum is asked to fill in for each object, giving its environmental needs, minimum security levels, etc. We’d like you to send us a copy of your museum’s ‘loan object information request form’ (blank, of course: we really don’t need sensitive individual object information, just the empty form so we can understand what you need to know). Drop me a line in the comments box at the foot of this page, and I’ll email you an address you can send the form to.

Once we have the forms, my colleagues and I will collate them all, draw up a list of the different pieces of information museums are asking for, and pass it to the system developers to incorporate into EODEM.

If all goes according to plan, future generations of registrars, exhibition organisers, and documentation staff will be forever in your debt!

The Encyclopaedia of Museum Practice

I’ve just (well, the month before last – but in terms of my writing on this site, that counts as ‘just’) got back from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where I was attending the 2017 annual conference of CIDOC, the international organisation for those working in museum documentation.1 As well as a fascinating range of papers from many countries, visits to Georgian museums (and opportunities to sample Georgian wines), I facilitated a couple of sessions dedicated to the CIDOC Documentation Standards Working Group (DSWG)’s Encyclopaedia of Museum Practice – ably helped by my co-facilitators, Maija Ekosaari and Jan Behrendt, and filling in for the DSWG’s co-chair, Jonathan Whitson Cloud.

Continue reading The Encyclopaedia of Museum Practice

  1. I’ve also written about the 2014 CIDOC conference, in Dresden, and the 2016 conference in Milan. []

Why half the world’s museum specimens are wrongly labelled

My colleagues who work in museum documentation have rightly been indignant about an article published by the Daily Telegraph yesterday, under the attention-seeking headline ‘Half of world’s museum specimens are wrongly labelled’.1 Continue reading Why half the world’s museum specimens are wrongly labelled

  1. Sarah Knapton, ‘Half of world’s museum specimens are wrongly labelled, Oxford University finds’, The Telegraph (published online 17 November 2015) <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11998634/Half-of-worlds-museum-specimens-are-wrongly-labelled-Oxford-University-finds.html> accessed 17 September 2015. []

What should we be doing next?

I was flattered to receive an email a few months ago from Nick Poole, at that point still the Chief Executive of Collections Trust, asking me to speak at the Trust’s forthcoming annual conference. Nick suggested that I might ‘take a look at where we are today with documentation, which challenges have been solved and which are still to be addressed’ – all in twenty minutes! Those of you that know me will also realise that this isn’t really the way I work: I prefer to start with the detail and work outwards from that, rather than beginning with grand abstractions about the bigger picture. But after a quick exchange of emails, Nick and I agreed a subject, and I gave my lecture at the Collections Trust 2015 conference at the Natural History Museum a few weeks ago.

Continue reading What should we be doing next?

#TwitteratiChallenge

I realise, looking at this site’s dashboard, that I’ve not posted much recently. In part this is down to personal distractions; in part it’s because I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and some writing, on the subject of renaissance magnificence – on which, I hope, more will follow later; and in part it’s because I’ve had my head down with things like a complete review of the Horniman Museum’s core documentation procedures prior to an accreditation return (if you work in UK museums, you’ll understand what that entails).  Then I received a Twitter notification to say that Katie Hobbs had nominated me in the Twitterati Challenge. Continue reading #TwitteratiChallenge

Tips for an effective museum job application

A couple of months ago, I was on the shortlisting and interviewing panel for a documentation-related museum job. Although we had some very good applications, the overall standard was worryingly low. It looked as though many applicants hadn’t been told about what makes a good application, so I’d like to offer some advice here.

Continue reading Tips for an effective museum job application