classifying ethnographic art in western art museum collections

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      Marie-Page Phelps

      Hi all, we are considering an overhaul of our database categorization system, where thematic classifications, i.e. Spanish Colonial, Contemporary, etc. are used as subcategories in a different field than the physical typology, i.e. Dec Arts; Furniture; Chair. The physical typology is intended as the main sort factor, with all works falling under basic categories like paintings, dec arts, photography, etc., and the secondary/tertiary subcategories (Furniture; Chair) in the next database field. However our current system includes ethnographic art in the first (main) sort field, listing each broad culture area as its own category, i.e. African, Oceanic, Native American. I would like to keep everything consistent, but not all ethnographic objects fall neatly into the art categories that we have in place. Has anyone else come across this problem in classifying their collection? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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