Museum Mechanics

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Posted by: on June 10, 2016

Classes and categories

There is no right or wrong way to organise your things, but some methods are more appropriate than others. It all depends how you want to access and use your stuff. However before you can start sorting your stuff you need some way of identifying and categorising it. This is called classification. What happens if […]

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Posted by: on June 10, 2016

Backlog ready reckoner

In a previous blog, we saw that the total number of minutes required to create a catalogue could be estimated. In this blogpost, we’ll estimate the number of person-years required to clear that backlog. We need to estimate the number of minutes a full-time cataloguer has available in a year. Let’s suppose they work for […]

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Posted by: on May 11, 2016

The museum experience

Even if you have never been in a museum you probably have some idea of what to expect. But whether you’re a seasoned visitor or not you may not realise that museums have been undergoing a revolution. There has been a fundamental shift that has called into question what a museum does, how it does […]

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Posted by: on April 11, 2016

On capitalising collections

In a previous blog post [link to blog post ‘What are heritage assets?’] I wrote about the UK Accounting Standards Board take on heritage assets and what museums and galleries should put in their financial statements. But its worth taking a closer look at the challenges of valuing museum collections as there’s more to it […]

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Posted by: on March 26, 2016

The pipeline model of museum documentation

In a previous post, I looked at the Operations Management model of processes, with a view to comparing to the process of documenting artefacts in a museum. In a factory, process calculations are fairly straightforward. Items and processes are standardised, and so a standard items takes a predictable amount of time to be processed on […]

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Posted by: on March 11, 2016

Keeping track of things

It is perhaps not surprising that organisations that regularly handle large inventories have trouble keeping track of everything. So it should also come as no surprise that heritage organisations face the same problem. However, on closer inspection it turns out that these problems are actually not quite the same, although the comparison is illuminating. Have […]

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Posted by: on March 10, 2016

Museums and documentation processes

Manufacturing systems are often understood in terms of a pipeline. Raw materials go in one end, flow through a series of linked processes, and emerge at the other end as finished goods. One of the aims of manufacturing systems design is to make sure that goods spend the shortest possible time in this pipeline, and […]

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Posted by: on February 25, 2016

Museums and lean inventory

Just over a year ago, in September 2014, we began a multi-disciplinary project on collections management in museums. My background is in Operations Management, and so I began by applying an operations perspective on the problem of getting museum acquisitions documented and onto the catalogue. A bit like inventory management in a factory. Inventory management […]

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Posted by: on February 11, 2016

What are heritage assets?

The objects in museum collections are assets, yet they are often seen as priceless since they are unique and irreplaceable. So how does a museum account for its collection on its balance sheet? To answer this we must look a little closer at what a museum collection is, and how it is used. Recently I […]

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Posted by: on January 7, 2016


Welcome to our new blog. This research comes out of a partnership between Saïd Business School and the British Museum, funded by the AHRC through their Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme. Our blog is not about running museums as businesses, or even necessarily about the management of museums. Instead we are interested in larger questions of […]

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