Erica and I spent most of today working on the HRC’s yearly inventory. The museum has to complete two inventories each year. One is a controlled property inventory of objects worth over $2,000 and the other is a random sample of objects in the museum collection, regardless of value. Erica and I were responsible for the random sample inventory.
There were over two hundred items on the inventory, so it took quite some time to complete the inventory. Basically, we had to locate each object in storage, determine if it was where it said it was located in ANCS+ and indicate whether or not it was damaged. Most objects were easy to find, but the HRC has some recurring problems with inventory because of a lack of museum training and care by previous museum staff.
To explain the complex problem, the previous staff set aside catalog numbers in blocks to assign to objects according to their topic, rather than assigning them in numerical order as they were needed. Because of this, many of the numbers originally set aside are not yet assigned to objects. For inventory, ANCS+ creates a random sample of 200 plus objects. Many of these are catalog numbers that come up on the inventory are those that were set aside but not assigned to objects. Further, these numbers are not even entered into the database, so we have to look them up in handwritten catalog books, many of which are out of numerical order and are accompanied by cryptic notes. Needless to say, this is a big mess, one which the registrar Bridgette is constantly dealing with. Her goal at the HRC is to reassign all the blocks of numbers that were set aside years ago but are not in use. Bridgette tells us that this is why registrars need to be meticulous, detail oriented people so that messes like this aren’t made for others to fix.
Despite these issues, I enjoyed doing inventory because it was fun to see all the objects we had to find. I really liked looking at the photos and postcards we had to find.
Late in the afternoon, we went to see and inventory the vehicle storage in Gardiner. The HRC is not big enough to house all the historic vehicles, so they are stored off site at the transportation building. The vehicle collection encompasses an entire warehouse and includes a great variety of objects from Yellowstone's history. They have everything from cars, trucks, carriages, the park's famous yellow buses, snowmobiles, and mopeds.