Labelling and marking your collection

From Our Toolkit

As part of creating your inventory or box list you will have ascribed each item, or group of items, with it’s own unique number. This number should be recorded in your collection inventory or catalogue and then marked on the individual item.

Labelling and marking your collection enables you to easily identify and distinguish one item from others whichmay be similar as well as making it easier for you as an organisation to audit your collection and be accountable for the items in your care.

The best practice approach to labelling and marking items in both museum and archive collections should follow these principles:

  • Be secure – so that it does not become detached from the object
  • Reversible – any marking should be able to be removed leaving minimal residue on the item so as to preserve its integrity
  • Safe for the object – any marking must be done using materials which do not cause the item to deteriorate as a result
  • Be discreet but visible – any marking must be easy to find but not so obvious that it spoils the appearance of the item
  • Be convenient and safe for staff and volunteers – any marking materials must be readily available and their use must not put staff and volunteers at risk

Collections Trust have produced this Labelling and Marking Objects booklet to guide you through how to mark different types of materials.

Share Museums East have produced a series of films showing how to label and mark your collections:

For museums, labelling and marking is part of the acquisitioning and accessioning procedure in the Spectrum guidelines.

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