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It is essential to keep your documentation system up to date, whether it be manual or computerized.

All new acquisitions should be recorded in the accession register within a week of their acquisition. Objects which are no longer part of the museum’s collection – as a result of being stolen, destroyed or disposed of – should be marked as such in the accession register.

If you have a manual documentation system, consisting of an accession register, card catalogue (or computerized catalogue) and index files, it is essential to keep the files in order. Any card removed should be systematically returned to where it came from. A file which is not in order is almost useless, since access to the information will no longer be possible on a logical basis.

The files should be kept up to date. All newly arrived objects should be inventoried, and any changes should be systemically entered in all files pertaining to the object concerned. In this way, the files do not risk becoming “fossilized” or obsolete.

If you have a computerized system, the above recommendations also apply. Any new acquisition or any modifications in regard to an object – alteration of its position, restoration, additional information concerning the object, etc. – should be entered into the collections management software.

Documentation should evolve with the object, following its trajectory both before and after its arrival in the museum. If the documentation system is not kept up to date, it will quickly become useless.

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