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Peralta Character of a Museum The collection of most small museums is an admixture of many things. Jesus T. and exhibition. one has to define the character of the museum. what type of structures and facilities are to be made available in terms of study. . conservation. and specialized museums as the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. While there is nothing wrong in collecting many classes of items. storage. Optimistically. and the Central Bank Money Museum. There are general category museums like the National Museum. It might be practical to define at the outset the objectives of the museum so that the collections can be made to support these objectives. There have been many instances where after some time. a collection is needed to be rid of items which had become incongruous in terms of class or quality. this practice has to be given some thought if there is a choice. In most cases. for instance. the items collected are originally from and reflect the community where the museum is located. The need of the community is at times one of the factors determining the character of a museum. the museum curator is confronted with a conglomeration of objects the choice for which he had no control whatsoever. the Museo ng Bahay Pilipino. In effect.Guidelines for Museums Dr. This character will help the curator determine.

the most important consideration is that information accompanies the object. Catalogue 3. One cannot be too detailed in obtaining data on the collection item like the following: • name of the object • the ethnic group of origin • place of origin • description • material (s) used • functions • name of parts • function of parts • manner of use • definition of user (s) • who / how produced • accompanying ritual (s) • ownership • distribution Documentation It is imperative for a museum to documents its collections. There are various forms of museum records: 1. donation 3. exchange When an object in the collection is acquired. purchase 4. Database . Accession Record/ registry 2. and accompanying data merely secondary source.Collections A collection may be built and augmented in a number of ways: 1. The information should include data on the object itself and socio-cultural milieu. there is nothing more frustrating for a curator than to have an object with nothing but the fact of its existence in his hands. The list names the objects and states how many of each there are. Although the collection item itself is a primary data source. field collection 2. Photographic record 4. which at the very least is composed of a list of the various items.

It must be written on the discreet part of the object where it is not likely to be rubbed off. This is called the accession number. It must be written permanently on the object.1. and the object is the 25th item acquired that year from Ifugao.4 Provenance 1.3 Name of object 1.7 Notes . 4. 7. The code is usually devised to suit the purpose of the museum. It should be structured to follow the classificatory system of the collection. 2. but legibly. This should contain the most basic information about the object e. a succession number: 92-If-25 The example represents 1992 as the year of acquisition. It should not attempt to code all the information.2 Date of acquisition 1. It must not be repeated on another object. The following must be remembered about accession numbers: 1. The number must be marked on the subject itself. The Accession Record of a museum contains the basic information about the items in the collection among which are: 1. fieldmen use a field number which they use to identify these objects until these are brought to the museum where the permanent accession numbers are assigned. Sometimes. It must be short.g. Ifugao as the ethnic group from which the object came.6 Recorder 1. The number should be written small. which is usually coded. Accession Record/Registry A very important consideration is that each object must bear a number which corresponds to the list. 6. specially when displayed. 3.5 Brief description 1.1 Accession number 1. and where it is not too obvious. the year of acquisition. the provenance. 5.

of Ragai.4 Name (s) of object (common. Jan. -760- 6395 Object quiver (native name . etc) 2.13 Location in storage/exhibition 2.) 2. 2.11 History 2.kubokub) Tribe Negrito Locality Balangkawitan.12 Publication (s) 2.9 Acquisition value 2.4 Function (s) 2.8 Description 2.3 Physical description 2. donated. e 6396 Object guitar (native name -.8. etc. The card should contain all the information about the object: 2.8.14 Photographic/negative number 2.16 Notes .1 Accession number 2. local.1 Dimensions 2.5 Provenance 2.2 Date of acquisition 2.8.gitada) Tribe Locality How obtained Description Fig. foreigner. Camarines How obtained by purchase from Lucas Description Collector J. Catalogue Each of the accessions should have an individual catalogue cards.3 Recorder 2.M.15 Sketch or photo of the object 2.7 Manner of collection (purchased. 1 Segment of page from a National Museum registration record.The accession records constitute the museum register. 1913 Cost 40 cts. Garban.2 Material (s) 2. 3 hrs E.6 Collector 2.10 Condition 2.8.

3. The contact prints should be filled with the negatives. E|-|3|5|0|5 Fig. contact prints of the negative strips should be made. The contact print and negative of each object should be identified with the accession number of the object. When the condition of the object is not normal. No _______________ Object English Name ______________________________________________ Vernacular Name ___________________________________________ Ethnic Group Collected From _________________________________ Own Name ________________________________________________ Popular Name ______________________________________________ Locality ___________________________________________________ How Museum Obtained ______________________________________ Value of Material ____________________________________________ Collector’s Name ___________________________________________ Date Collected _____________________________________________ Date Received _____________________________________________ Recorder __________________________________________________ Date Recorded _____________________________________________ Storage Location ___________________________________________ (Photograph) 015688 (Over) Fig. damaged portions should be clear on the photographs. 2 Front of a National Museum catalogue card. Photographs should include a scale to indicate the size of the object. preferably upon acquisition. At least. and the accession number. National Museum (Ethnology) Catalogue No ______________ Old Acc.3 An ethnographic record photograph . Photographic Record Where expedient each object of the collection should be photographed.

The application programs locally available to create databases are DBase IV and FoxPro.e. 4 Sample of a computer database structure.DBF Number of data records : 5346 Date of last update : 04/12/90 Field Field Name Type Width Dec Index 1 Ethn_group Character 30 Y 2 Artif_type Character 30 Y 3 Eng_name Character 30 N 4 Vern_name Character 30 N 5 Provenance Character 20 N 6 Acc_num Character 15 N 7 Datecollec Date 8 N 8 Collector Character 30 N 9 Acquiprice Numeric 10 2 N 10 Total value Numeric 10 2 N 11 Condition Character 30 N 12 Notes Memo 10 N 13 recorder Character 30 N 14 Last_update Date 8 N Fig. then a manual system might be more practical. It should be noted that computer database files only supplement the ordinary manual system of documentation. Making backups and hard copies or printouts of all files is absolutely a must. Storage disks like hard disks are notoriously unstable and short-lived. One must not rely solely on computer database files. While computers are nice to have around. is rather slow but had graphics capabilities. Unless the museum is handling a tremendous amount of data. Structure for Database : B: Ethnoinv. Another. Superbase. the image of the collection item can be stored or displayed with the data. which is the primary system.4. among others need to be analyzed. . Training and keeping personnel in this field are constant problems. i. these also require people who know how to make them work. Computer database With microcomputers and database software now readily available with minimal capital outlay the setting up of inventories becomes relatively easy. which.

storing by material is recommendable since it is easier to treat. agricultural tools. A museum continually collects even though exhibition space is usually limited. etc. or by ethnicity. etc. • No smoking inside the storage room. Storage Most small museums do not have provisions for storage. • Only fumigated/cleaned specimens should enter the storage. Storage System Collection items should be classified while in storage.g.Physical Facilities The facilities a museum requires correspond basically to the various steps in the processing of specimens or collection items. textiles as a group instead of individual pieces scattered all over the collection. Where the ideal does not exist. • Items should be stored systematically easy retrieval. The following are among guidelines to be strictly observed: • No one should hold office in the storage. The storage area should be near enough to the curator and the exhibition area that it services. Fumigation is imperative.. Ilocano. clothing. • Everything that goes in and out of the storage should be recorded.g. e. provisions should be made for vital functions to be carried out. (discussed more fully under the Conservation Section) 2. . as illustrated on page 30. 1. etc. e. depending on the type and size of objects. which may contaminate other items in the collection. metal. baskets. Storage space is imperative not only as the usual little closets and rooms reserved for office equipage and facilities but also and more so for collection items. The items may be grouped according to type of items. The ideal certainly is to have adequate space in the museum premises to carry out all the functions.g. The final phase of treatment is cleaning of the item or object just before it is placed with the rest of the collection. wood borers. Tagalog. For conservation purposes. Rotation of exhibitions require space for keeping items not on display. • Only authorized personnel should be allowed inside the storage room. for instance.. wood. or by material e. Fumigation/ Cleaning A collection item that has just come in and is newly registered ordinarily undergoes treatment. • No food or drink should be taken inside the storage area. other means can be resorted to.The reason is that it might be infected with fungus. In the absence of fumigation chambers.

• Allow only trained personnel to handle items. • People tend to go to museums with others. should be put in its place. where the object was taken. If the object is removed. which records the entry and exit of items. the date. • Use only soft illumination in the storeroom. the purpose and by whom.The key. The following are some do’s: • Stack materials with no objects touching them or placed on top of another. • The sexes are just about evenly represented. • Provide fire-fighting and firescape facilities. • Do not roll or fold materials. . • Keep area free of dust. • Museum visitors at least have some college education. • Use gloves in handling specimens. and less in an art display. If available. • Many are repeat visitors. a piece of paper noting the removal of the object. There is acid on your hands. • Fumigate the room periodically. Allow air circulation between objects. The population of museum visitors shares general characteristics. • The museum visitor spends an average of five minutes in an exhibition. Restored objects are specially fragile. Exhibition Curators should take a keen interest in visitor profiles in order to make the museum effective in a community. for retrieval is through a cross-indexed file combined with a systematized storage. of course. • Allow adequate ventilation to maintain an even temperature in the room. generally white collar and well-educated. acid-free paper should be used to line shelvings. • Museum attendance vary seasonally with the least during the summer months. Textiles can be rolled around a tube. Check on which is the safest place to hold. Handle items as gently as possible as if all these are very fragile. The shelving section should be identified so that each item has its own particular slot. This is apart from the logbook. Among these are: • The art audience is from a narrow segment of the population. An item when taken out should be returned to the same place. • Use both hands in holding specimens.

• While adding to knowledge. . Limitations of space call for well organized exhibits and periodic rotation. and humidity. No general lighting for the hall is needed but a large number of outlets should be well and conveniently distributed throughout the room. • Some form of visitor participation is advantageous in maximizing the effects of a museum visit. museum exhibits tend to amplify feelings. 1968). can get in the way of the placement of exhibition facilities and visitors traffic flow. • Education is the best predictor of museum attendance. Most museums tend to display everything at once. dust-free with some means to control light. temperature. • The museum visitor is physically exhausted after a visit and often overwhelmed by too much sensory inputs. Windows. A museum should therefore aim to provide a wide range of opportunities for their visitors to choose from. Visitors have different personal interests. In sum. The exhibition gallery should be well-ventilated. • The museum visitor has limited time. the flooring. The primary concern of many museums is display of the collection items. too. • The average visitor’s attention span is about thirty seconds per exhibit in a science museum. • The museum visitor has a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. This would mean that the gallery be an enclosed hall with no windows through which direct sunlight could enter. on the base of the wall. thus a museum visit cannot be structured. making the museum experience unique for each individual. • The average museum visitor is not anxious for more information or educational materials on museum collections. • Museums actualize the experiences of the visitors. There are beliefs. would be recommendable. • Only a small percentage of visitors make use of printed guides. • Education and place of residence are important determinants of museum attendance. museums provide different services for different people. “The majority of the public appears to be gaining little or nothing other than trivial impression of the exhibits” (Zyskowksi. This would allow tapping of power as needed. that visitors expect to remain passive. however. or the ceiling. Most people do not read display labels. Keep children in mind with respect to labels. preferring to be left on their own.

Display panels Display facilities should be highly adaptive to various needs. Large ones also are more stable. It is better to have a large pedestal holding a small object than vice versa. the glassed portion should be deep and high. specially if high- intensity lighting is to be used which will increase temperature inside the showcase. Pedestals (glassed or unglassed) 3. In case of shadow boxes. The problem is more with respect humidity for our environment has plenty of this. A relatively stable environment without the extremes is therefore ideal for conservation of museum objects. Conservation All materials change through time. There must be some means to lock the glass tops to the bases. that is. There are three types of display structural facilities needed: 1.It is advisable for small museums to opt for display structures that are generalized. the difference in temperature between day and night is greater. Conservation merely retards the rate of changes to perpetuate the condition of an object. rapid and frequent changes in the physical environment of an object will lead to its earlier deterioration. In fact. designed to accommodate different kinds of objects with varying sizes. Sufficient number of assorted sizes of small boxes to be used as individual pedestals of smaller objects inside a display case should be available. Some means of providing adequate ventilation for the displayed object must be made. to save on space. The difference in annual temperature is not that pronounced. perforated panels are recommended because things can be laid out on them without the continual use of nails. can be made into sizes that can nest inside one another. the Philippines is fortunate in being in the tropics where the fluctuation of climate is not to the extremes. In general. . Pedestals. Countries in temperate regions have greater museological problems due to the fluctuation of environmental conditions to the extremes. the bottom part of display cases can be utilized for storage if constructed as such and provided with access. which could accommodate a number of related objects rather than just one. Where storage space is a problem. It is preferable that the panels are double-faced. Shadow boxes 2. Display panels should be dismountable so that these can be stored in as small a space as possible. so large sizes are better. specially valuable objects warrant a special case. To last longer. Of course.

It should not be used near oil paintings. If the relative humidity goes above 65% and the temperature is also high. pigments and paper. painted woodwork. In the absence of these. electric fans or other forms of ventilation will suffice. and bookworms. oppressiveness and stickiness of the skin. Humidity A relative humidity of 50-55% is recommended. This must be used with care. Nearness to sea poses dangers of the corrosive effects of salt. To avoid the growth of fungi. extreme temperature changes and dampness should be avoided. are constant threats. Hygrometers are used to measure relative humidity. hydrogen sulfide. moths. cockroach. damp and warm places to be able to grow. and the soot from insufficiently burned fuel from motor vehicles. Pollutants Even clean air contributes to the decay of specimens due to its oxygen content. moulds will develop and destroy many objects such as textiles. Charcoal and silica gel substitute in small storages to keep stable temperatures and relative humidity. The only effective control of air pollution is air conditioning. A simple room thermometer will do to measure the temperature.Attacks of insect and fungi. because it can soften many paints and lacquers. Where this is not possible free air ventilation with filtration may be used. The museum should be fumigated periodically. Thymol crystals can be used to inhibit the growth of moulds. Electric fans which can circulate air continually during hot and humid weather can help arrest the development of such fungi since these prefer dark. Non- residual fumigants are preferable. In the absence of air conditioners. etc. one can more or less feel increased humidity by a feeling of heat. Atmospheric pollution aggravates the situation for museums particularly with respect to carbon monoxide. The most common insects that are the bane of museologists are wood borers. Dessicants in small dishes inside display cases can help. termites. Dust is dangerous for this provides the nuclei for water condensation and the start of chemical and physical reactions. silverfish. Temperature If the temperature range can be managed then this should be kept within the range of 20ºC ± 2ºC as most collection items will not deteriorate as quickly at these temperatures. sulphur dioxide. .

the following are the maximum illuminance recommended for museum objects: 50 lux: Textiles.3 Insect attack can be controlled with fumigation or the use of insecticides by spraying. It should therefore be controlled. A 100 watt tungsten incandescent bulb has an illumination of 14 lux at a distance of 1. moving in one direction only. 150 lux: Oil and tempera paintings. textile and the like. glass. Sandpaper to remove excess. Cracks can be filled in with sawdust with methyl cellulose. drawings. ivory. 1. dyes. . Call expert help from the National Museum. and Oriental lacquer work 300 lux: Stone. enamel.2 Replace missing parts. ceramics. at 30 degrees angle. Clean stubborn dirt with cotton swab and distilled water. Emergency Conservation 1. wood Objects should be exposed to lighting only for minimum periods.Light Light has a deleterious effect on certain materials like pigments. metal. Fluorescent lights can also be covered by these filters. tapestries. injection or brushing. wall paper.5 meters. The amount of light that falls upon an object should receive serious consideration. prints. natural history collections like botanical and zoological specimens. manuscripts. 1. horn. undyed leather. dyed leather. 1.1 Remove dust or dirt with soft brush. Using this as comparison. bone.4 If wet or water-logged. Ultra violet rays can cause chemical changes on some objects while infra-red light or heat can effect physical changes. jewelry. clothing. Ultra-violet filtering plexiglass can be used in frames and cases instead of glass. Spotlights give off excessive heat. watercolors. There are lighting facilities like Philips TL-37 which have ultra-violet filtering components. Natural light has both ultra-violet and infra-red rays. paper. To control infra-red rays the amount of light falling upon an object should be limited. Wood 1. keep wet and soak in water to remove soluble chloride that might have come from the soil or sea water. inks. Maximum luminance is measured in lux units.

4. 4. 2. 4. 2. Water will accelerate the corrosive process. 4. porcelain) and glass are generally stable and require only simple hygiene. before treatment. e. dimensions.2 Ceramics and glass from underwater sites may have in them harmful chlorides. 3.1 Photograph and document details.1 Mechanical cleaning should be done on the surfaces using dental tools. condition. Textiles Textiles are dedicate and need extra care and handling. . 3. 5.5 Flatten folded portions and creases. 2. 4.8 Avoid intense light.1 Do not wash or scrub iron objects. which need to be removed by soaking in distilled water for long periods.9 Store in wooden cabinets lined with starch-free cotton or polyester. 4. e. 5.2 Test for fastness of dyes. Japanese paper. well-ventilated room with good environmental controls. materials. stoneware. 4. weaving techniques.3 Consult experts.g. etc.4 Vacuum clean gently.3 Do not remove entirely corrosion products since these may contain details.2. Ceramics and Glass Ceramics (earthenware. An inhibiting solution of 2% sodium hydroxide may be used in packing it. 4. 3.3 Test for strength of fibres.5 Aggressive cuprous chlorides are removed using 5% oxalic acid solution and soft brushes. Copper and Copper Alloys 2.2 Degrease by using acetone to remove other impurities and greasy coating.7 Store in a clean.6 Roll on board with acid-free paper. 5. fine chisels and scalpels. Iron 3.4 Distilled water can be used to wash away corrosion or soluble chlorides.g.1 Mechanical cleaning is generally sufficient. 4. 4. 2.2 Objects found wet or affected by sea water must be kept until expert help is obtained.

Test for the appropriate solvent. Security All museum collections should be protected from: 1. in-service training is indispensable in the handling of all types of museum objects in all possible situations or processing steps in the museum. cool ventilated areas. Water 5. These should not sag under their own weight. Basketry and Mats These are prone to degradation since the materials are organic. tapes. etc. 6. stacking paintings. .2 Mechanical cleaning using cotton swabs and distilled water with ammonia to remove oil and grease.3 Organic solvents like alcohol. Vandalism Staff members should be taught how to hold or carry an object of different kinds. the use of tapes. ceramics.6. Mishandling is one of the greatest factors that contribute to the deterioration of an object. 6. Fire 4. Non-air tight plastic bags may be used. In fact. Use the weakest. painting. 6.g. and this is an area where museums tend to be most guilty. taking materials out of a frame. acetone. It is fatal to assume that people automatically know how to handle objects. carrying an object from one place to another. adhesives should be removed.5 Condition the fibres by relaxing these so they can be reshaped without breakage.1 Know the kind of plant materials. 6. Theft 3. and dirt. Mishandling by personnel 2.6 Store baskets and mats in relatively dark. 6. 6. e.7 Mats should be rolled or stored flat like textiles. Do not place one on top of another. baskets. toluene and petroleum may also be used. Training is needed in opening a book.4 Marks. the acidity of bare hands and so on. sculpture. 6.

. Bonded security firms should be preferred but their personnel should be trained for the needs of a museum. including from the roof. Water can be as dangerous to collection items just as fire and should be avoided. Usually. Always be aware that the presence of water is damaging to collection items so that even in conservation processes it must be used with care. Fire extinguishers should be distributed in key areas. roping off sensitive areas. e. If there is a possibility for the installation of an alarm system. The staff should also know and be trained on what to do in case of fire. placing susceptible objects near security areas. including the duplication of these. an exhibition layout that exposes the visitor to view at all times is highly preventive. Water can also come from leaking roof gutters or ill-placed pipes. Fire drills should be held regularly. Extinguishers that do not leave residues should be preferred. oil soaked cloth. The selection of security personnel and how they would be disposed should be well considered.g. then this should be done. The threat can come from within. outside and the security system itself. There are many systems available but the selection must be suited to a particular situation and need. and personnel should not only know where these are but also how to use them. chemicals. As much as possible there should be no water pipes in storage areas.The museum should be secured from theft. Fires are always possible. An understanding of this can be considered in the layout and placement of objects. It should be remembered that alarms must also be secured. Control over keys to locks of entrances should be an ongoing concern. Possible sources of fire should be checked periodically like the electrical wiring. Storage areas should be above ground level to avoid ground water and floods. waxes. Vandalism is a problem that can be prevented or minimized by the visibility of security personnel. Infra-red sensing devices that create invisible curtains can be more effective than the photo-electric cell devices that use beams of light. the use of glass. It should be kept in mind that burglar alarms give a false sense of security. presence of flammable materials like volatile fuels. All means of entry. etc. should be studied and secured. Foam and water-type extinguishers can do more damage to collection items than anticipated. Preventive measures are ideal besides being the cheapest.

(tel. Emergency conservation. exhibition and curatorial areas should be constantly maintained. 8. fire and water. 4. Periodic fumigation preferably by trained personnel. Maintenance of a registry and documentation. 2. Single small objects Place the object to be fumigated in a plastic bag or envelope. The Chemistry and Conservation Laboratory under the Anthropology Division of the National Museum in Manila is the best equipped for this type of work not only in terms of equipment but also of personnel. 527-0307) Fumigation with Paradichlorobenzene (poison) 1. Use of professional conservation help when necessary. then sprinkle it with some paradichlorobenzene crystals. 6. 10. Control of environmental conditions. Technical assistance can be made available upon request. 5. General cleanliness of the storage. Leave the bag for at least two weeks out of direct sunlight. 3. . 7. including the documentation of the conservation processes used in any object.Recourses for a Museum 1. Use of water-soluble adhesives. including photos and negatives. no. Mounting and storing of objects in acid-free containers. General security from theft. Use of white cotton gloves in handling specimens to protect these from the acid and oils of the skin. 9. Seal the opening completely with tape.

.2. Place the other sheet on top. (3) Place two-sided tape on melinex leaving a gap. Multiple or large objects To treat sheets of documents (1) cut two pieces of Japanese paper one inch larger than the document. Japanese paper is the least acidic of papers locally available. (2) Place Japanese paper on glass sheet and weight on document.

Glimpses: Peoples of the Philippines and Insights into Philippine Culture: Festschrift in Honor of William Henry Scott. Gloria 1983 A Review of Literature on the Evaluation of Museum Programs. and J. he is also a ten-time winner in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards in Literature in the field of playwrighting. He has more than 120 scientific papers and publications on anthropology. American Museum of Natural History.d. 1983 Museum: A Legal Definition.Reference: Abinion. National Museum.d. Maintenance and Basic Conservation of Museum Artifacts. Museum Environment. He is the author of The Tinge of Red.Orlando n. Tomas.T. August. Curator. Peralta is a Bachelor of Philosophy graduate from the University of Sto. Most interestingly. Manila n. National Museum About the Author: Jesus T.C. American Museum of Natural History. Exhibition and Storage Recommendations for the Small Museum. archaeology. and a Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology from the University of California. Manila A. with a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of the Philippines. Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material.C. Draft Zyskowski. 26:2. 1991 Training Report on the Care. 26:2 Johnson. and general culture to his name. Field Conservation of Marine Artifact. National Museum. Chemistry and Conservation Laboratory.V.d. Chemistry and Conservation Laboratory. He now works as a Consultant for The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)-MIS.d. He was Director III of the National Museum until he retired in 1997. Curator. Members n. E. Raymon S. . Handbook for Museum Collection Storage. Horgan n.

. Intramuros 1002 Manila Tel. • website: www.NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CULTURE AND THE ARTS 633 General Luna .gov. 527-2192 to 98 • Fax 527-2191 & 94 e-mail: info@ncca.

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