Medium 9781442267688

Collections Vol 5 N1

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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A Letter from the Editor

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I am pleased to begin my tenure as editor of Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals and equally honored to usher in its fifth year as a scholarly publication dedicated to foregrounding the work of collections professionals. This journal seeks to address ideas, initiatives, and issues related to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting works. From the outset, Collections has been subtitled “from the practical to the philosophical” — a range of approaches that, to me, is critical. Rather than seeing these two terms as fixed points, I see them as a range of areas wherein there is much oscillation, for what collection is managed with only a practical approach? How do museums and archives develop, sustain, and revise collecting philosophies? How are collections successfully managed? What marginalizes them? What are the ways in which the public connects with a collection? Who or what fosters this connection? Who or what prohibits it?

The authors in this volume have an international perspective, with current work from professionals based at the National Park Service in the United States, the National Archives in the United Kingdom, the Jewish Museum of Greece, and Aberystwyth University in Wales. The progress report from the NPS comes in the form of a multi-authored document that identifies issues relating to assessing the significance of collections. With more than 115 million items in its holdings, the NPS has made progress toward establishing criteria tied to collections as opposed to sites. This article outlines an ongoing effort to develop museum collection significance criteria that are practical and flexible while providing continuity and context for the future. I am extremely grateful to Laurel Racine and eight co-authors who have made Collections the venue for sharing their work with a wider readership. Anna E. Bülow’s study at the National Archives’ Department of Collection Care takes its cues from Robert Waller’s risk assessment model (1994) and greatly brings the notion of collections care among digital records, archival microfilm masters, and paper/parchment records into focus. Aristotelis Georgios Sakellariou introduces readers to practical issues associated with cleaning and refreshing display cases at the Jewish Museum of Greece — a project that allowed visitors to the museum the ability to observe the process first-hand. Finally, Jennie Hill’s review essay addresses broader themes of visual culture and collection construction and care, offering a remarkably rich analysis of three key publications from recent years.

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Development of United States National Park Service Museum Collection Significance Evaluation Criteria: A Work in Progress

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Laurel Racine, NPS Northeast Museum Services Center;

Greg McDonald, NPS Park Museum Management Program

Ted Fremd, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Ted Weasma, Mojave National Preserve

J. W. Bayless, Yosemite National Park

Allen Bohnert, Museum Services Program, NPS Southeast Region

Christine Jacobs Landrum, Office of Indian Affairs & American Culture, NPS Intermountain Region

Louis Hutchins, NPS Northeast Museum Services Center

David Vecchioli, NPS Northeast Museum Services Center

Abstract    This article describes the National Park Service’s (NPS) progress in an ongoing effort to develop museum collection significance criteria for its geology, paleontology, biology, archeology, ethnography/ethnology, history, and archival collections. The goal is to create sets of significance criteria that are practical, flexible, recognize the associative value of the NPS’s collections, and provide continuity and context for the stewardship of collections over time. Effective significance criteria will increase the intellectual understanding of collections; inform and record collection acquisition and deaccession; and assist in management decisions related to collections. This is an immense undertaking complicated by differences among disciplines and a large geographic scope. The significance criteria effort requires agency support through a national staff coordinator and funding for the final development and implementation phases.

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Risk Management as a Strategic Driver for a Large Archive

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Anna E. Bülow

The National Archives, Collection Care Department, Ruskin Ave, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, United Kingdom, phone: +44 20 8392 5330 ext 2364; fax: +44 20 8487 9201; email: anna.buelow@nationalarchives.gov.uk, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/preservation/advice

Abstract    Archives are faced with fast-paced changes in the world in which they operate. In particular, innovation in digital technology have transformed the way people access and retrieve information. In view of this, The National Archives, UK has formulated a vision which aims to lead information management within government, and find new ways of preserving and making information accessible. In this climate, a preservation risk assessment was carried out in order to inform strategic planning as well as guarantee the survival of records. Results have highlighted the degree of environmental problems within the main site. In addition, it illustrated the amount of damage resulting from current policies and practices associated with storage, retrieval, and substitution copying; it also proved policies already in place to be highly effective. The results of the assessment have led to a number of improvements to the repository environment as well as policies on storage and retrieval.

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Cleaning Display Cases: Dusting or Polishing our Challenges?

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Aristotelis Georgios Sakellariou

Dervenakion 101B, Kondopefkon Ayias Paraskevis, 153 43, Hellas GREECE phone: +30- 6938001465; e-mail: vrahonisida@gmail.com

Abstract   This article introduces the reader to the considerations that had to be taken when cleaning and refreshing two of its large display cases at the Jewish Museum of Greece. Those display cases contain a mixed collection of variable items namely costumes, photographs, prints and watercolours. The staff of the museum planned in advance, ensuring the safety of the objects and staff. Eventually it is natural for unpredicted problems to occur in the real time process. The Museum acknowledged the convenience of the visitor pathway and, moreover, granted visual access to the treatment actions by encouraging communication with the working staff, enriching the visitor experience. Finally the process was beneficial for evaluating the staff’s teamwork and the production of a record, and a methodology to be followed for other display cases of the museum and potentially by other institutions.

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