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Major Projects

The Registration Department is heavily involved in a number of major projects across the Museum including the following:
  • Inventory Project: Phase 2
  • Archives and Records Management
  • Library Cataloguing Project
  • Decant Projects
  • Registration Blogs
  • Re-Org Project in the Collections Resource Centre (CRC)

Inventory Project


What is the Inventory Project?

The National Museum of Ireland is conducting an inventory of its core collections. The inventory project is a scaled down version of the Documentation Plan project that ran from 2009-2014. It forms a foundation for the collections documentation work carried out in the Registration Department. The project is led by the Registrar and managed by a documentation officer on the relevant sites, supported by a team of Inventory Assistants.

What are the aims of the project?

The main aim of the Inventory is to create a database record for each object in the core collections with a museum registration number, a confirmed current location and a description from the relevant register entry. All objects are being recorded to Spectrum inventory standards: the UK standard for best practice in museum documentation.

Object information will ultimately be made available on a centralised database, accompanied by digital images as these become available. This will enable both staff and the public to have better access to more wide-ranging object information for the first time in the history of the museum.

What does the work entail?

The inventory is the first step towards documenting the NMIs collections. It is a way to quantify what the museum has and where it is, creating basic records to inventory level from the physical objects and from the relevant register entry, which is input into the record forming the primary description of the object.

What are the benefits of the project?

The Inventory Project will enable the Museum to establish the extent and scope of its collections. It will also contribute to improving the condition of the collections. For example, objects often require to be repacked in conservation-grade boxes or bags and objects covered in dust need a light brushing.

To date, the project has catalogued over 750,000 objects across all four Museum divisions. A customised database, Axiell, has been established, allowing staff and researchers ease of access to object information.

The overall effect of the project has been to open up the national collections more than has ever been possible before, thus providing much research material for future scholars and a wealth of collections information for the public to enjoy.

Archives and Records Management

Since 2015 the Archives and Records Department has been tackling the backlog of archival listing within the Museum. To date, the following collections are being catalogued by the team:
  • Easter Week Acquisition Files
  • ‚ÄčArchives of the Directorate
  • Archives of the Natural History Division
  • Topographical Files of the Irish Folklife Division
In 2019, a records management survey of the records of the Museum was carried out to inform the introduction of a system of records management across the Museum. Planning for the project is taking place and the new system will be rolled out in 2021.

Library Cataloguing Project

George Eogan Library

A recent major addition to the library collections at the CRC is the personal library of renowned Irish archaeologist Professor George Eogan (1930-2021). Work is now taking place to catalogue, classify and process the 2,000+ volumes in the collection to make this valuable resource accessible for museum staff and other researchers. 

Decant Projects

Most Registration staff are involved in moving museum collections – to enable loans, exhibitions, acquisitions, and also to clear space for building works. The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has granted funding to the National Museum of Ireland to decant the Natural History Museum. This will facilitate a major refurbishment.

A decant is the process whereby all museum collections, display cases and other contents must be removed from the building so that they are out of harm’s way when construction begins. Moving museum objects is a risky endeavour. The objects or specimens are often very old, delicate and liable to accidental damage.

The decant process is as follows: carefully remove the objects from their display cases, assess their condition, photograph them, record their unique object numbers for tracking purposes, pack them carefully, transport them, process them at the receiving end, quarantine, unpack them, shelve the objects and finally update the database to show their location.

Registration Blogs

In the current blog Registration Corner, we share content relating to the varied aspects of our work. You will hear about objects, collections management, people of interest, current projects, exhibitions, loans and more.

If you enjoy this content, you might like to look back at our Documentation Discoveries blog. The behind-the-scenes blog ran for a number of years and gave a glimpse of fascinating museum objects such as Hokusai woodprints, the Australian Thorny Devil, the distinctive Tuam/Sligo chair, or the terrifying Irish Medieval dental tool.

Re-Org Project in the Collections Resource Centre (CRC)

What is the Re-Org Project?

The Re-Org Project in the Collections Resource Centre is using the RE-ORG method, developed by the Internal Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), to re-organise our collections in storage in the CRC and make them more accessible.

What are the aims of the project?

Prioritising the collections which are currently difficult to access, the project aims to improve the storage conditions in the CRC and make more efficient use of the space available in our store.

What does the work entail?

The first step in the project was to identify the areas in most urgent need of improvement in our store. Our large objects store, which houses carriages, boats and large zoology specimens was identified as our priority for 2024. A programme of work is in train to add shelving and cantilever storage solutions for the smaller of these objects, and make better use of the height in the storage room. The floor-space freed-up by moving these objects will also make it possible re-organise the larger objects and create access points or pathways between them.

What are the benefits of the project?

All the objects will be accessible, which will allow our Conservation staff to inspect them more easily; our Registration staff will be able to catalogue them and label them; researchers will be able to include them in their studies; and finally our curators will be able to select some these objects for exhibitions, either in one of our own Museums or as loans to other cultural institutions.


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