A year and a half ago we found ourselves having to empty out our museum due to a major re-construction of the interior of the building and putting in a HVAC system. We had approximately six months to move some 40,000 items into storage. This is a 35 year old museum that was run by volunteers for the first 30 years. There were good inventories with deeds of gifts, but no locations had been noted.
First we mapped out the museum by exhibit room and landings. Then we field inventoried every item in each room and landing. This included, location, photo, cleaning, packaging and location moved to. We also used a color code system to sort each object. Green: extreme importance to our county history and families. Orange: importance to our local regional and state history. Red: no historical significance to us at all.
We re-exhibited our museum after construction, keeping track, by paper, of where each object came from and what exhibit it was put in. Since then we have been working with the inventories to match up items with deeds of gift inventories. Probably 20-30 percent of the items had some sort of number or identification on it. The rest has been a big game of find the object in the data base, or written log.
This project was done with the two museum staff members and about 25 volunteers. Although we do not by and measure have everything matched up with a record, we do know, now, what we have and were it is at.
It will be an ongoing process to match up all items with it’s record, but you have to start somewhere.