Museum Collections, Asset Tracking & a Christmas Moose: Challenges & the Power of Collaboration

This time of year, many of us are digging into the dark corners of our basements pulling out the bins that contain our ornaments, decorations and other holiday must-haves.  I don’t know about you, but invariably there is always that one item that isn’t where I thought it would be – and I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for it because it needs to be on display.

I mean, what house would feel fully decorated if the moose with the Christmas lights in his antlers wasn’t on the shelf where it belongs, right?  That one object completes that particular display (in my opinion).  At the moment, I’m not sure where it is…and it’s driving me nuts.

My hunt for the moose gives me a world of appreciation for Curators and Collection managers of museums.  They are tasked with the enormous undertaking of managing priceless objects that are frequently on the move – and not just once a year like the Christmas moose in my house.

This museum mission wasn’t one that I personally appreciated until we got together with our partnersHoneywell, MSS Software, and BlueStar – to create a solution that can assist them in tracking and managing these object collections.

The Museum Mission

Did you know that only about 5% of a museum’s collection is on display at any one time?  Did you know that there is a huge mixture of owned and borrowed objects that may make up an exhibit or collection?  Owned/borrowed/displayed/stored/loaned – Curators, collections managers and other museum staff are tasked with managing where objects are, their condition, their ownership, etc.

Losing sight of these objects not only means that they aren’t available for display – but puts them at risk for loss.  Object loss at a museum can be catastrophic – in terms of cost and the reputation of the institution itself.  Would you want to loan a priceless object to someone who might lose it?

A Collections Management Solution

It’s a really interesting perspective on organizations that most of us were introduced to sometime during an elementary school field trip.  I’m grateful for the experience of working with these teams – and am excited to share with you The Curator’s Guide to Asset Tracking & Collections Management.  It’s our new eBook that gives you a really interesting look into a side of museums that you might not have considered.

Our partners, together with insights from Curators and Collections Managers, brought our strengths together to create a solution that can help museum staffs stay on top of their collection management game – with minimal time, staff resource and financial investment.

Take a look at the eBook.  I think you’ll find it interesting.  And if you are (or know of) a curator or collections manager – please contact me.  I would love to hear about your processes and some of the challenges that you have to overcome to stay on top of your collection.

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Anne Hale is the Director of Client Services at HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile inventory management, RFID and supply chain solutions. She manages our client engagements, helps with sales and marketing and is currently on the hunt for the Christmas moose.

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