And now, it’s time for some (recent) institutional history… In the summer of 2007, several months before The Commons were launched by Flickr in partnership with the Library of Congress, the Magnes began sharing images from its Archives, Library and Museum collection on Flickr (the first set, created between July 3rd and August 21st, 2007, can be [...]
Since its inception in 1962, the Magnes has strived to represent the Jewish experience in all of its manifestations: material culture, the visual arts, music, historical documents, and of course text. This has resulted in a multi-faceted collection that provides a wide-angled perspective on culture and history in the Global Jewish Diaspora. This diversity of holdings also presents a challenge. How can materials traditionally stored in distinct repositories – Archives, Libraries and Museums – all coexist under the same roof? How can they best be preserved? And, most importantly, what kind of access can be provided to them?
Access to a collection is determined by how the collection itself is described to the public. The question, then, is how can archive, library and museum collections be described within one and the same context. In this post, I am sharing with our readers a series of thoughts that were debated over the last two years among the Magnes staff: in which “collections” do the holdings of the Magnes belong? And, more to the point, what constitutes a “collection”?
I just returned from the American Association of Museums Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Our session, “Bridging the ALM Divide: An Integrated Archive-Library-Museum Approach for Hybrid Institutions”, highlighted an important project the Magnes is currently working on. The Magnes has a large collection of objects in the museum, a significant amount of documentary materials in the archives, and a significant holding of thousands of rare books and manuscripts. Over the years, these materials have not been cataloged consistently, nor has it been at all easy for researchers to discover related materials across the whole institution. In response to this problem, we decided to adopt a new type of collection management system to help us catalog materials in one centralized database, but according to the professional standards museum, archive, and library materials require.