Think globally, act locally might neatly capture the nature of museum cataloguing. In practice, museum professionals take into account standards that increase discoverability and aggregation of related objects, and museum professionals give serious weight to the particular contexts of individual objects and local preferences for description and documentation.

The approach taken by the Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM) in describing and documenting its collection reflects this practice. Cathryn Goodwin is Manager of Collections Information and Access at PUAM and is keenly involved in shaping and managing information and images related to objects in the museum’s collection, with a principal goal being to increase access to the museum’s collection in as many places as possible, including through and, specifically, the museum’s online catalogue .

Cathryn has noted that Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO), as a compilation of recognized best practices, factors into her discussions with curators, registrars, and other information professionals when developing procedures and addressing issues that can arise on an object-by-object basis. With a collection of over 72,000 objects from regions around the world and ranging from ancient to contemporary art, the PUAM uses the breadth of CCO when and where needed.

Princeton University Art Museum is a noteworthy example of what it means to catalogue objects within a museum context while being mindful of possibilities for discovery and aggregation within a larger macrocosm of a university’s holdings, and beyond.  As the museum and other campus collections increase access to information and images related to their varied objects, the CCO guidelines can provide a common ground for discussion, in support of advancing the discovery and use of cultural objects in research and teaching.

CCO provides field-by-field guidance for cataloguing of individual objects and complex objects (as a group). Prescriptive advice on object naming, classification, and choice of terminology facilitates shareable data that can be used online, for labels, and in publications.

Does your museum use CCO?  Tell us about it.


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