The Collections and Conservation Department conducts ongoing maintenance and inventory activities in the Museum Galleries. Most of this work is done during our winter season, when the Museum is closed on Mondays. Recently, we changed our procedures, amalgamating tasks that formerly were done separately.
Now, when working on an exhibit area, all collections management and conservation tasks are completed at the same time: condition checks, cleaning, photography, cataloguing and inventory checks. This involves preparatory work: searching the collections database to determine whether any new cataloguing or condition reports are needed; assigning catalogue numbers to objects which previously had none; ensuring that any loan objects have up to date paperwork.
Once in the galleries, the actual cleaning, photographing and application of catalogue numbers takes place.
As with other aspects of collections management (see blog entry “Door to door: a collecting trip”), sometimes the bulk of the work happens after what you see us do. In the case of gallery work, more time is often spent in the entry of new catalogue records, entry or update of condition reports, review and saving of digital images, edits or updates of location records.
Our department is focusing on ensuring we have accurate up to date database records for artefacts and specimens in the galleries. It is becoming more urgent as The Manitoba Museum plans for significant gallery changes in the next few years. Any object moves should go smoothly if our records are all perfect. But it is daunting, as we have nine permanent galleries with over 4000 artefacts and specimens on exhibit. We have just begun implementing our new process, and will continue to work at adding to, updating and perfecting our collection records, concentrating on objects in the galleries.