Papercuts to Databases
I’m Izzy, the Collections Information Officer from Ipswich Museums. From events and exhibitions to loans and acquisitions, as the Collections Information Officer, I get to do a wide variety of things in the Museum.
Over the last few months I have been working with my lovely collections volunteers, Alicja and John on Ipswich Museum’s Egyptian Collection.
One of my jobs is to manage all the information we hold on objects in the Museum’s collections. A lot of the time this involves rummaging through stacks of paper files, filling out paperwork and trying to get all our paper information digitised – papercuts are an occupational hazard for the untrained. But I also work with the physical objects themselves, and an important element of my role is making sure we know what we have, where it is and what information we hold on it.
To do this Alicja, John and I have been inventorying all the objects held in our stores for the Egyptian Collection; this involves filling out a large spreadsheet (who doesn’t love a spreadsheet?) with information such as measurements, location, descriptions and taking photographs. All of the information we record will be reconciled with previous work and the information we can locate in our documentation sources. Eventually this will be digitised onto our collections management database, which will be the one stop shop for all the information you could want to find on objects in our collections. We’ve got a little way to go yet, but the nerd in me who likes things well organised is excited about having a beautifully recorded and photographed collection on a searchable database.
We’ve really enjoyed learning about the different Egyptian objects like this painted canvas fragment of a funeral scene. There’s something quite special about holding an object that’s several thousand years old and still being able to see the colours so vividly.
Or the weight of a stone khol pot still with traces of the dark black khol inside that would have been used by Egyptians to protect their eyes.
And the documentation sources for the Egyptian Collection are often as interesting as the objects themselves and far beyond my artists capacities.
If you want to see more, why not visit our Egyptian gallery at Ipswich Museum?