How does an inventory work in a museum setting?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

An inventory for a museum collection varies depending on what information needs to be collected. Sometimes, a complete inventory of every object is done, but sometimes only partial inventories are necessary to check and make sure that the objects are where they should be according to the museum’s records. Usually, the type of inventory that is completed depends on each museum’s written policy and the size of its collection. Usually, a museum’s policy may dictate that a complete inventory should be done every X number of years – it could be two, it could be five, it could be 10. And, in some instances, partial inventories can be completed every year or two.

Depending on the collection, an inventory could involve any number of things:

  • making sure objects are where they’re supposed to be and updating the location of objects if they are incorrect
  • gathering additional information about each object. This could include:
    • measurements
    • condition
    • what they’re made out of
    • how they were made
  • photography for internal use or for external use in publications or on websites
  • checking the condition of the objects

So what’s the point of an inventory? It allows us to keep track of and check in on our objects.

Now, DUMIC knows what we have and where it all is! We’re going to continue to research the who, why, and how.