Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Do you know what that number means?

It's how many photos have been added to the database of the museum's permanent collection in the Photo Documentation Project!!


Wow. We are almost half way finished with this project.

I have two volunteers who are currently working on taking photos. I spent the past 3 days entering over 600 photos that they had taken over the past few months. (With the bridal show, my trip to CA, the funeral in NY, and putting up an exhibit, I really didn't have time to enter all the photos as they took them.)

This is how the project works.

The volunteers go drawer by drawer and shelf by shelf, using a digital camera to photograph each artifact. They write down the number of each artifact on a worksheet, with any important details about the object in case the number is incorrect (usually the writing is illegible, not an incorrect number -- but either way, I have to be a detective to try to figure out what the number should be).

They turn the photos and worksheets in to me, and I enter each one of them into our database. If I have a problem with a record, I circle it and give it back to the volunteer, and they get it out so I can actually look at it to try to figure out what its number is. I try to search all combinations I can think of to save them the time of getting it out, but sometimes I just have to see it.

For example, I might try a "3" where they wrote an "8" or something like that. Or I might search for a keyword that they wrote down, like "Made in China," and cross reference it with the home location.

This is all kinda complicated. And time consuming.

But our goal is to have every single item in the collection photographed. It will be very helpful when doing exhibitions, because we will be able to see what we're looking for in storage, and possibly rule something out without bothering to hunt it down, if we have a photo to look at. We can also document any damage that might have occurred, such as a tear, chip, crack, etc. We can take multiple photos of the same artifact, which means we can attach a photo of a plate's maker's mark, a close-up of the pattern, a close-up of a chip or crack, and an overall photo.

We have been doing this since 2002. I thought it would be a 5 year project!

Guess not.


wm curator said...

Do you happen to have a copy of the worksheet your volunteers use that you could share with me? I'm about to hire an intern, and this is exactly what I'd like her to work on! Thanks. Lisa

Kim Kenney said...

It is a simple form, really. Our camera takes floppy disks (it is old, but does the trick!) so there are usually less than 30 photos per disk. This keeps things manageable. I'm not sure how it would work with our new camera, which takes hundreds of photos on a single card! (We use that camera for events/etc).

Send me your email address and I will send you the form. It is a Word document. You can email me using the museum's website (link on blog homepage) -- so you don't have to post your address here.

Good luck! It is a time consuming process, but a well worthwhile project!


wm curator said...

My blog is http://talesfromthevault.blogspot.com/.
My email address can be found there. Thanks!