November 2002 - March 2004
This project aims to improve our knowledge of around 20,000 of the objects in the Museum.
Each object will be marked with a Museum number and a note will be made of its exact location. Examining objects enables us to check their condition and improve our records.
Numbers link objects to their records
We can learn a lot more from objects if we have background information. With ever growing collections it is important that we establish exactly what records we hold about the things we have. This depends on giving every object a unique number which can provide a link to the background information that we hold in our records.
Applying a base coat of varnish and numbering an object
In the past, Museum numbers were recorded but were not always written on the objects themselves. Staff are making sure that the right numbers are put on the objects. Sometimes we find things that we did not know we had. These are given new numbers and information about them is added to our records.
Museum numbers are not written directly onto the objects. A label may be sewn or tied on, or a base coat of removable varnish applied and the number marked on top.
These techniques allow numbers to be taken off without causing damage.
It is essential to know not only what we have but also where it is stored or displayed. Recording locations as part of this project will help us link the Museum's records to the objects themselves. Once these links have been established it will be easier for us to show visitors where to look for the particular objects they want to see.
Keeping everything in good condition
Examining objects closely enables staff to check their condition. Materials deteriorate and some things may need special care. If so, trained conservators are on hand to provide objects with the right treatment. Experienced display designers are working to improve older fixings and make sure things are safely displayed.
When handling objects staff wear gloves so that acids in their sweat do not damage the things they touch. Wearing gloves can make it difficult to hold things safely, so occasionally it is better to remove them. Some objects may have been treated with chemicals to preserve them or might be poisonous, so gloves protect people as well.
Improving our records
A wireless computer network enables staff to update the Museum's internal database while they are working in the gallery. This database is a catalogue that holds information about all 270,000 objects in the Museum's collections. Staff are adding extra information including label texts, descriptions and measurements. You can access a regularly updated version of this catalogue online.