Re: Cleaning museum storage room

Melissa Houston

I echo what Kathleen Malcolm wrote. In addition, though I understand the sentiment of dividing what has numbers from what does not, I would take a careful look at the collection before you separate items. We have been working on an inventory of our collection (one hasn’t been completed since 1989 and our institution has been around since 1893) and one thing that has been lost is “original order”. Sometimes a donor gives items in a specific order for a reason and sometimes through the course of time those reasons are lost or the items are no longer together and they loose some of their meaning. When we were looking at our Civil War collection for example, we had a photograph, three diaries, and a uniform from the same soldier donated in 1921. But only the photograph had a number and it had been “organized” with other numbered photographs. It took some considerable work to get the artifacts back together since little was known about any of them, but you can see how having them together makes a better “box” than having them all separated either by category or by numbered/unnumbered. Needless to say, it is a SLOW and painful, though rewarding, job. So best of luck!