Cataloging architectural objects

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    • #132522

      I am getting ready to start and independent study about cataloging architectural collections and I was wondering if anyone had any experience with cataloging and storing architectural materials. The collection has everything from tiny mortar samples and nails, to large pieces of wood and masonry. I am researching what other institutions (museums, historic sites, etc.) are doing in terms of cataloging and storing these types of items and determining the cost of materials to store said objects.

      Any advice or ideas about where to look for information would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    • #132533
      Miriam Kahn

      While the book may not talk about bricks and windows, you should definitely look at

      Architectural Records: Managing Design and Construction Records

      Waverly B. Lowell and Tawny Ryan Nelb

    • #132532

      Christine, Sounds like an interesting project. When I read the beginning of your message I assumed you were talking about architectural records, a topic I know a little bit about. Based on having now read your full post it sounds like the collection you are dealing with has a lot more to do with building materials. Art and history museums that have collections of architectural fragments may be one place to look. Be aware, however, that their approach will likely reflect to culture of museums, i.e. privileging the artifact as an object with significant intrinsic value. Curatorial, registrar’s, and conservation staff will all have something to say. The collections you are exploring may be more archival in nature. The other realm that is likely to have dealt with the kinds of materials you are is the historic preservation community. Two avenues that come to mind are state preservation and archaeological agencies and places like Colonial Williamsburg that both preserve and present historic architecture and have or have had active research programs. Finally, it’s probably worth talking to some of the graduate programs in historic preservation that have strong technical curricula. Good luck.

    • #132531
      Randi Smith

      We add building parts to our collection, cataloging and storing along with other materials.   They document our historic structures.   I like to put nails neatly in storage trays, usually with the heads all the same direction.  The National Park Service likely has something online in their handbook or Conservograms about architectural collections.  I would be happy to answer questions.


    • #132530

      Thank you all very much for your advice! Colonial Williamsburg is one of the places that my advisor for the project wants me to call because he has a contact there, they will also be receiving the final proposal from the project to review.

      Miriam, thank you very much! I will definitely look into getting that book if my advisor doesn’t already have it.

      Dennis, I appreciate the help with finding places to contact. I wasn’t exactly sure where to start with that, but now I have a better idea what types of institutions I should be looking for, thank you!

      Randi, I am going to look up the National Park Service handbook and Conservograms right now. Thank you!

    • #132529
      ginny daley

      You might also want to approach various architectural firms to see how they catalog this kind of matter.  They often maintain a ‘library’ of materials samples for staff to reference.  I subscribe to the listserv for the Architecture, Building Engineering, Construction and Design Caucus of the Special Libraries Association and there are lots of architectural firm librarians on that list.  Here’s how to connect with them:

      Ginny Daley, Library Manager, Facilities Management, University of Kentucky

    • #132528
      Olivia Primanis

      Hi Christine,
      The University of Texas Architecture Library has a sample library of contemporary architecture materials. Here is a link to the online library:
      If you have questions, you could contact the new Materials Lab Director. Her name is Jen Wong.
      Regards, Olivia

    • #132527

      Thank you all so much for the links, they are incredibly helpful!

    • #132526

      @ginnydaley Ginny, do you happen to know a Michael Spencer? He went to the University of Kentucky and is now a professor of Architecture at the University of Mary Washington. He is my advisor for this project.

    • #132525
      ginny daley

      No Christine, I don’t.  I’ve just been at UK for the past 2 years and have only met a few of the Architecture & HP faculty during that time.  Interestingly the Facilities staff and the relevant academic depts (engineering, arch, horticulture, etc.) don’t intersect.  Go figure.

    • #132524
      Karen Louvar

      You may also try contacting the staff at the Menokin Foundation in Virginia (home of Francis Lightfoot Lee). They have cataloged a large architectural collection.

    • #132523

      Karen, thank you very much! That is very helpful!

      Ginny, it’s a shame that the departments don’t overlap, seems like they should be working together on a lot of things.

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