Renumbering is always a challenge, but the accession number has a purpose. It’s format is designed to tell us information about an object. It can also reflect what is happening at the organzation at which it is housed. If I see an artifact numbered 2000.983.1, that accession number tells me that my organization sure accepted a lot of donations in the year 2000. Subsequently, adding an “a” to that number would then make me wonder if there was a component part that was lost or not catalogued.
What both of these examples may actually mean is that the organization did not follow standard numbering practices. This is a clear example of why having procedures in place (and following them!)are so essential. I agree wholeheartedly with Molly that if you do decide to renumber, documenting your actions and rationale are key to avoiding further confusion down the road.
When caring for collections, we are often caring for objects from the past, but as the caregivers to those collections, we must always be thinking of the future. Decisions we make, how we handle, document, exhibit and store objects impact their future. Thus we want to make careful and informed decisions about the collections entrusted to our care to ensure that they are safe,secure and meaningful not just for the next exhibit or for the next few years, but for future generations of both the public and the staff of the organization.