So I’ve been working on the Candy Shop project for a few weeks now and I thought I’d go into more detail about the cataloguing process!
As I said before, when I get an item, the first thing I do is assign it a number. This is the number that tells us when we got the item and can used to look up where an item is in the museum, what it looks like or any other basic information about it.
After I give it a number, I assign it a Lexicon. This is pretty much just placing it in a generalized category, and then a sub-category, to make it easier to search for. For example, today, I was entering some dishes into the system. It’s Lexicon term was “Food Service” and then further categorized as an “Ice Cream Dish.” All these terms are provided for me, and it can take a long time to find the right category for an item! The plate was relatively easy to categorize, but later today I was trying to do the same thing for a clock and I finally found it under the “Science and Technology” lexicon! But I’m getting a better sense for how the categorization system thinks. It’s important to get the lexicon as accurate as possible because this system is the same across all museums and is what other museums use when they are searching for items.
Then, I weight and record the dimensions of the object. After that, I record the condition of the item (Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Unstable) and then provide search terms that object could be looked for under. The dish, for example, would show up if you searched for any of the following terms in our database: Alex’s Candy Shop, Ice Cream, Serving Utensil, Ice Cream, Dish. After the classification terminology is indicated, I have to give a description of the item. This is my favorite part. Chris has done most of the research behind the items, historically, but I get to look at the object and describe its every detail. This can be a short process or a long one, depending on the item. The dish doesn’t take long to describe, but something like the original deed for the store or an intricately decorated serving platter can take longer. Chris always says, “Describe it like you were describing it to someone who has never seen it before,” so the descriptions are always very detailed.
And actually, I changed my mind. This next part is my favorite. After all the information is entered in to the computer, I get to photograph each object from all of its angles, making sure to get all the important details. The camera I use is very fancy and complex!
I’m really liking this project!