Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Individual Museum

by Barbara Cardinale

I was excited during week four when Shannon asked me to help her locate art works in Embark for the up-and-coming Foundation Annual Review.  I was capable of tagging the pieces required by the auditors, which enabled me to learn a bit more about the documentation software's layout and commands.  For this particular search, I focused on finding the items by artist sort name.  This brings up the object record, or a constellation of information related specifically to the art piece.  For a couple of pieces from the Warhol Foundation, I searched by accession number simply because they are unique and I was curious if it would work.  One interesting fact I learned is that each piece of art contains a credit line which is similar to a bibliographic citation.  The credit line is assigned to each work of art to designate who or where it came from.  For instance, if CAM purchased a work of art from a gallery, the credit line is: MUSEUM PURCHASE, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA COLLECTION.

Shannon also explained to me that unlike libraries, museums are more flexible when it comes to organizing their holdings.  There are no set universal standards, such as the Library of Congress subject headings that are used for monographic record holdings in certain libraries (mainly academic or governmental).  Rather, each museum may designate a particular organizational structure that best suits that institution.  This means that accession numbers will vary, along with how the holdings are organized.  Staff may also be assigned various jobs, depending on the size of the museum.  So, for instance, although Shannon is designated as the registrar, she also works alongside the Curator of the Collection, Peter Foe, and Chief Preparator, Vince Kral.  Since I am interested in specializing in archival work, I may want to consider working for a large museum, although I am not opposed to collaborating with others to get work completed.  

Next week, I hope to continue to work with Embark and that I have the opportunity to learn more about the photography aspect of documenting.  I was happy when Peter wanted to explain to me what a Color Strip’s purpose serves when he is photographing artworks.  Its primarily used to help him adjust the lighting of the photograph once it is uploaded onto the computer.  Apart from the photography, I anticipate working with Enaam and Sarah to make our blog more unique, but structured, as Peter made a few suggestions for it to appear more pristine.  Now, I wait for Thursday…

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