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Museum Monday:The not-so-glamorous life of a museum

February 24, 2017
By Krista Barry

Everyone manages a collection. Everyone has a personal repository of stuff that belongs to them, and everyone has different methods for keeping track of their stuff. Usually these methods are fairly informal—though some of us may be more organized about it than others. The fundamental element of managing any collection is knowing what you have, and where it is. So what do you do when you are responsible for managing thousands of objects? You have to conduct regular inventories.

Museum Monday: Glam Life of a Museum 

Kara Mattsen'17 inventories a shelf in The Cube

Inventory isn't sexy. On the surface, it seems mundane and frankly boring, and admittedly, it can be a tedious job. Especially when you are faced with the taunting task of inventorying over 12,000 objects! Krista Barry'15, assistant curator, began conducting a complete inventory of Logan Museum's visible storage facility, known as "The Cube," with the help of student museum assistants in August 2016. As February comes to a close, the inventory is reaching its end. The Cube underwent a large-scale inventory was in 2009, so it was due for an inspection to see how accurate the inventory has remained. It is amazing how much movement can happen over eight years of exhibits, programs, visiting researchers, and student projects.

 Samantha Kinard'16, a Logan Museum assistant completing her honors term, has been helping with the inventory efforts. "I enjoy getting to go through and look at all of the objects I have catalogued over the years I have worked at the museum," she says. "I feel attached to them after spending so much time with the objects. It's kind of amusing to be responsible for some of the changes shelves have undergone since the last inventory."

When the inventory is finally completed, the current location of each object in The Cube will have been verified twice to ensure absolute accuracy. Realistically, The Cube will actually have undergone two complete inventories---an undertaking that could not be accomplished without the dedicated help of the museums assistants."Doing inventory is important because it lets us know as a museum where everything is located," Kara Mattsen'17 explains.


Museum Monday: Glam Life of a Museum 

 Inventory is fun with Samantha Kinard & Kara Mattsen


Despite its reputation, inventory can be a rewarding part of collection management. Anyone who has ever found a lost item may remember the rush of excitement they felt. Now imagine finding an artifact that has been missing (or rather, misplaced) for over 10 years! When your repository exceeds over 400,000 objects, a misplaced item can remain missing for a long time—even if it's only sitting a few shelves away. Regular inventories ensure we at the Logan know what we have, and where it is, so we can provide access to it for years to come.