What goes into starting a new museum?
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) wanted to display its treasured collection of woodworking tools and other artifacts with the goal of eventually opening a brand new museum. As the project began, the Brotherhood realized that its sizable collection was probably not being stored to museum standards, risking permanent damage.
Faced with the daunting task of starting a new museum from the ground up, the UBC contacted the University of Maryland, the repository of the UBC’s archives, which referred the Brotherhood to HAI for help in documenting its valuable antiques and developing and implementing museum standards and procedures to preserve the UBC’s historic collections.
“Everyone’s needs are somewhat custom’; we’re all a little different in the projects we are trying to grow…History Associates met every need that I had; many of those were needs that I was unaware of until our relationship began. I would recommend History Associates 100 percent.”
– Robert Welch, Director of Operations at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters
HAI’s collections managers initially worked onsite with experts in the field of carpentry to help form a solid foundation for their growing collection. During the initial phase, History Associates established all of the protocols, data standards, and technical procedures for the project, including the installation of the client’s customized Microsoft Access collections management system. Following museum standards of best practice, the collections team applied an object identification numbering and labeling system to the existing collection. History Associates staff proceeded to adopt a consistent lexicon for describing antique woodworking tools and a standard structure for documenting their physical locations. The ongoing, focused cataloging effort includes object inventory, condition assessment, documentation, and digital photography.
After the initial phase, History Associates had added nearly 700 new object records to the UBC’s collections management database. This greater level of access and intellectual control over their collections allowed UBC to create a dynamic exhibit to showcase and celebrate their legacy.