To my colleagues,
Rest assured, dear friends, that no collection is perfect.
While some of us may work happily with beautifully filled collections databases, B-67, and carefully labeled twill tape, others are still struggling to make sense of decades of shady donation paperwork, wonky accession numbering systems and misplaced inventories. [Non-museum folks–if this is Greek to you, no worries.]
No matter the state of your collection, I implore you to sit back, take a deep breath, and experience the amazing photos below.
[Taken at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City in 12/2010]
Beautiful Roman glass, eh? Look at the delicate handles and ribbonwork (?) on the two in the back. Gorgeous!
Now, the amazing part:
They’re all “X” numbers! Everything in the photo!
Now, I don’t know the story behind the numbering system, but after looking at numbers throughout the Museum, it certainly appears that “X” is the Met’s version of an “XX” or “FIC” (Found in Collection) number.
Wow! The Met even has cataloging issues. Doesn’t that make you feel good about your institution?
Did I just catch you smiling? It’s okay, go ahead.
(For the non-museum folks, if an item is in the collection but the staff can’t trace it to a deed of gift or other donation paperwork, it’s given an X or FIC number. This lets us keep track of the item in the collections database.)
What cataloging stories have made you groan? I once encountered a bag filled with New Years Eve noisemakers that had a note that said “From: You Know Who”. Groan, indeed. How’s a gal to catalog that?!