See also:


American Institute for Conservation

The AIC Code of Ethics treats the topic of documentation in its Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. See especially the 'Commentaries which cover the topic in some depth. For an historical view see Evolution of the AIC Code of Ethics/Guidelines for Practice

ConservationSpace link verified 4/14/2016
Open Source Application Design and Development by and for the Conservation Community

"With funding from the Research in Information Technology Program of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, two community design meetings for conservation documentation will be held in 2009, the first in early March at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, primarily for North American participants, the second in early April at the National Gallery, London, primarily for UK and European participants."

The focus of these meetings is solely on the requirements, as described by professional conservators and conservation scientists, for a software application that would support and help manage their work, its documentation, and related scientific data."

Getty Conservation Institute
Conservation Documentation in Digital Form: A Dialogue about the Issues, Angelica Zander Rudenstine & Timothy P. Whalen, Summer 2006

"In an important moment for the conservation field, representatives from over a dozen major museums in the United States and the United Kingdom—including museum directors, curators, conservators, and scientists... convened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on April 27, 2006, for a frank dialogue regarding the current state of conservation documentation."

Documentation Practical Guide

"The Guide that we here provide is primarily directed at small museums (having less than 5000 objects) with limited resources, but it can also be of use to large establishments, since the principles are the same. It will allow institutions to have the minimum requirements for a basic documentation system—we shall concentrate here on the "administrative" management of collections—, by guiding them toward Internet resources that will enable either to start up a documentation system from scratch, or to improve the existing system. Most of these Internet resources have been published by EPA-ICCROM, CIDOC, the Museum Documentation Association through its Collections Link portal, the US National Park Service, the French Ministry of Culture, the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI). EPA-ICCROM aide-mémoires have been available in paper form for many years and have been put online especially for this project."

Mellon Foundation
Mellon Digital Documentation Project (MDDP) Wiki link verified 4/14/2016

"Digital Formats, Institutional Priorities, and Public Access. This meeting was held under the auspices of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on April 27, 2006."

Mellon Conservation Documentation Survey
The survey instrument (PDF)
Survey Results:
Digital Technologies and the Management of Conservation Documentation: A Survey Commissioned by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Undertaken by David Green and Rachel Mustalish, May 19, 2009 (PDF)

"In Spring 2008 The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched a study of the ways in which institutions use digital technology to record conservation documentation. Some museums do this within a collections management system (CMS) or are developing systems or modules that work with the CMS. Others may not have a CMS and manage the documentation independently, whether by design or circumstance.

This study is set within the context of a larger project assessing the challenges, opportunities and implications of digital documentation, and therefore benefits from a survey of conservation departments worldwide about the specific tools and procedures they are using to manage conservation documentation in digital form.

Goal of the survey: The goal of the study will be to use the information gathered to encourage and assist in the development or improvement of systems that can be more responsive to the needs of conservators; and to inform the community about any such developments already under way."

Issues in Conservation Documentation: Digital Formats, Institutional Priorities, and Public Access

Digital Formats, Institutional Priorities, and Public Access: New York
This meeting was held under the auspices of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on April 27, 2006.

Dossier, NY Meeting, Apr 27, 2009
Edited transcript of the meeting

Issues in Conservation Documentation: Digital Formats, Institutional Priorities, and Public Access: London.
This meeting was held under the auspices of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the British Museum on May 25, 2007."

Dossier, London Meeting, May 25. 2009
Edited transcript of the meeting

Ashok Roy, Susan Foister and Angelica Rudenstine
Conservation Documentation in Digital Form: A Continuing Dialogue about the Issues, Studies in Conservation, 52 (2007).

The Collections Trust (formerly Museum Documentation Association (MDA)

"The Collections Trust is an independent UK-based organisation working with museums, libraries, galleries and archives worldwide to improve the management of their Collections.

"Formerly known as the Museum Documentation Association (MDA), it has published Standards in Action: Working with Archaeology, a guide to using the SPECTRUM Standard with Archaeological material in museums. It supports the Archaeology Terminology Working Group in partnership with English Heritage."

Historical note from the original MDA site:

"MDA is funded by the Museum & Gallery Commission (MGC) to encourage best practice in all aspects of museum documentation. This task has many aspects, and perhaps the simplest way to understand it is to say that we do for documentation what the MGC does for a broader range of museum issues.

"Firstly we raise awareness of the importance of documentation. New collections and new displays may be more fun, but any object is the poorer without the associated information which tells its story. Likewise, if you can't find it, or can't tell others that you have it, or when you last conserved it, or can't say for sure that you own it, then curatorial effectiveness is, at best, diminished.

"SPECTRUM: The UK Museum Documentation Standard (original URL represents a common understanding of good practice for museum documentation, established in partnership with the museum community. It contains procedures for documenting objects and the processes they undergo, as well as identifying and describing the information which needs to be recorded to support the procedures."

Museums and Galleries Scotland
CAT Condition Assessment Tool link verified 4/14/2016

"CAT (Condition Assessment Tool), a package including guidance manual in Microsoft Word and PDF; the CAT database program and supporting SMC factsheets. Step-by-step help including technical assistance and assessor's guidance."

Jack C. Thompson
Treatment propsal language concerning documentation

Text drawn from the author's standard treatment proposal agreement. (Excerpt from an item posted in Conservation DistList Instance: 12:4, Thursday, June 18, 1998)


Caroline Black, interviewer
Conservation Ethics: An Informal Interview

Betsy Palmer Eldridge
A Simple Tip for Making Working Copies of Badly Deteriorated Archival Materials

Betty Fiske
Metropolitan Museum of Art Japanese Print Collection: Condition Survey, Computer Cataloging and Exhibition Concerns

James L. Greaves
Conservation Treatment Label and follow-up and update
A Proposal for Promoting Labels with Technical Data

Northern States Conservation Center
Helen Alten
Labeling Ethnographic Objects

"(as published in the ICOM Ethnographic Conservation Newsletter, Number 17, April 1998. pp. 18-21.)". Includes information on products and links to resources at other sites.

Jim Kennedy
Preserving History: How to Digitally Archive and Share Historical Photographs, Documents, and Audio Recordings

Much of the content will be of use in dealing with conservation documentation. Topics covered are:

Pip Laurenson
The Conservation and Documentation of Video Art (PDF)
(Originally appeared in Hummelen, IJ., Sillé, D., Modern Art: Who Cares?, Amsterdam: Foundation for the Conservation of Modern Art/ Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage, 1999, p. 263-271.

O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Checklist for Selection of Document Production Tools

Chris Stavroudis, Wendy Brandow, and Leslie Kruth
Confidentiality of Records: Perceptions and Reality

Carol Stringari
Installations and problems of preservation
(Originally appeared in Hummelen, IJ., Sillé, D., Modern Art: Who Cares?, Amsterdam: Foundation for the Conservation of Modern Art/ Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage, 1999, p. 272-281.

From the introduction:

"Installation art and its preservation is a burgeoning field of interest with many contradictions and ambiguities. Thus far no clear methodology for the care and long-term existence of installation art has been established. Issues of documentation, re-interpretation, material condition, artists intent, and criteria for preservation are not defined and often defy conventional conservation ethics. The material nature may not be the essential part of the work in relation to its conceptual nature, but we must acknowledge the physical object in order to address future questions regarding the state of preservation, obsolescence of technology and materials.

Related matters


Hayden B. Baldwin
Photographic Techniques for the Laser or Alternate Light Source

Andrew Davidhazy
Exposure testing with Polaroid materials
Improved Rewound Film Retriever
Infrared Basics
Making an Improvised Infrared Transmitting Filter
Ultraviolet and Infrared Photography Summarized

Michael R. Peres
Color Interpretation: a function of process &film

Richard Rinehart
A System of Formal Notation for Scoring Works of Digital and Variable Media Art (PDF)

This document describes the Media Art Notation System (MANS).

Abstract: "This paper proposes a new approach to conceptualizing digital and media art forms. This theoretical approach will be explored through issues raised in the process of creating a formal declarative model for digital and media art. This methodology of implementing theory as a way of exploring and testing it is intended to mirror the practices of both art making and computer processing. In these practices, higher-level meanings are manifested at lower levels of argument, symbolization, or concretization so that they can be manipulated and engaged, resulting in a new understanding of a theory or the formulation of new higher-level meaning. This practice is inherently interactive and cyclical. Similarly, this paper is informed by previous work and ideas in this area, and is intended to inform and serve as a vehicle for ongoing exchange around media art.

The approach presented and explored here is intended to inform a better understanding of media art forms and to provide the lower level 'hooks' that support the creation, use and preservation of media art. In order to accomplish both of those goals, media art works will not be treated here as isolated and idealized entities, but rather as entities in the complex environment of the real world where they encounter various agents, life-cycle events, and practical concerns. This paper defines the Media Art Notation System and provides implementation examples in the appendices."

Robert Slade
Basic Photography Guide

Tim Vitale
Digital Documentation: Getting the Most from a TIFF Image
Techarchaeology: Works by James Coleman and Vito Acconci. See especially "Appendix 1. Written Documentation for Vito Acconci's Pornography in the Classroom". JAIC Volume 40, Number 3, 2001

Photograph Identification
Carte De Visite Matrix, " A chart helping to estimate when a carte de visite was made by card characteristic"

Other resources

Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) offers
Documentation Standards
Large Format Photography
Producing HABS/HAER/HALS Measured Drawings from Laser Scans: the Pros and Cons of Using Laser Scanning for Heritage Documentation

International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA)

"This unique tool is created for and by INCCA members, allowing access to each others unpublished information. The database contains metadata records (like library cards) that describe all types and formats of documents. Each record includes keywords and an abstract as well as information on how to obtain the document. It is now possible to attach documents of any digital format to database records making the INCCA database a rich repository of knowledge. Different members may create records concerning the same artist resulting in a virtual artist archive.

Archives & Museum Informatics
Consulting, Publishing and Training for Cultural Heritage Professionals. Archives & Museum Informatics was founded by David Bearman in 1986. Since then, it has organized conferences,workshops and seminars, published journals and monographs, and consulted for archives and museums worldwide. Its educational goal is to provide specialists in archives and museum information systems with timely and challenging opportunities for professional exchange and training. Its consulting services emphasize strategic planning and standards based

The Institute for Image Data Research & Conservation Unit, School of Humanities University of Northumbria at Newcastle

Vocabulary control

See also the Lexical and Classification Resources page

Thesauri, glossaries, dictionaries and other tools
Getty Research Institute
Art & Architecture Thesaurus

Philadelphia Museum of Art, et al
Guidelines For Descriptive Terminology For Works Of Art On Paper, Supported by an IMLS 21st Century Museum Professionals Grant

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