Re: What to do when objects where never accessioned?


Every museum has this problem. My organization set up a separate log book and temporary numbering system for “Items Found in the Collections.” This was for items that have no known paperwork so there is no way of knowing when they were received, or from whom, or what type of transaction it was (gift? loan? temporary custody never reclaimed? transfer?), or if it was an early donation that has lost its permanent catalog number, or somebody cataloged it and forgot to attach its permanent number. We hope someday we will find more information so that we can connect it up with a donor or a description of an already cataloged item, and restore its permanent number, but in the meantime, the temporary number at least allows us to keep track of it. Our temporary numbering system is similar to the catalog numbering system. In place of the year, we use zeros; the source number is assigned in sequence, starting with one and continuing on indefinitely; if you have items that are obviously related, consider them a collection from a single source and give them individual item numbers also. The number looks like this: “0000.187.14” (for the 14th item of the 187th object (a collection of related items probably from the same source) found in the organization’s collections for which there is no known documentation).