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Subject: Database and software for conservation records

Database and software for conservation records

From: Patricia Smithen <patricia.smithen>
Date: Thursday, December 9, 2004
Karen Potje <kpotje [at] cca__qc__ca> writes

>... I'm trying to locate any institutional conservation departments
>that can give us information on how the Museum System fares as a
>tool for conservation documentation or can back us up as fellow
>Filemaker-Pro users.

The Tate started using The Museum System about 3 or 4 years ago.  I
wasn't involved in data migration, but I can tell you of my
experiences as a user.  While initially somewhat cumbersome, our
version of TMS has evolved into one of the most useful documentation
tools I have at my disposal.

Each painting in the collection has an updatable TMS survey, that
was migrated over from an old system. We can immediately identify
the condition of that work, along with environmental requirements
and other recommendations.  We were able to tailor this survey to
our needs and it is very quick and useful.  All this information can
be generated into a good variety of reports, both in words doc or
spreadsheet formats.

Note that a lot of our documentation is hard copy only, so we still
are required to have physical files. We also have digital
condition/treatment word docs, artist interviews, analytical reports
and images on a central server.  This data is gradually being
attached to TMS files, collating previously separated data, and
these migrated files may be deleted someday as everyone get used to
the new system.

As well as being good for our conservation documentation, we can
also access other information such as location history, acquisition
information, exhibition and display lists, etc.  It has facilitated
communication with the rest of the Tate and made life easier for us.
As well, we have been able to use the search capabilities of  TMS to
find stats on all sorts of things, such as how many paintings in the
collection have transit frames, or how many need minor treatments,
or how many works are on zinc panel.  This sort of information was
very difficult to compile previously, but now it is a quick search
away. There are a few glitches, as with any system, but I have found
it a reliable and powerful tool and am really very happy that Tate
chose this system.

If you have specific questions, please email me and I can direct you
on to the people who actually run the system for their perspective.

Patricia Smithen
Conservator of Modern and Contemporary Paintings

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:27
                Distributed: Thursday, December 16, 2004
                       Message Id: cdl-18-27-010
Received on Thursday, 9 December, 2004

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