Observant visitors to the Museum over the last nine months will have spotted the appearance of small tags on many of the instruments in the showcases. Contrary to popular belief these are not price tags but are the result of the Museum beginning an inventory of the whole collection.
There are several reasons why a complete inventory of the collection is thought to be desirable. The accession number register is incomplete and objects have often become separated from their numbers. It is essential for managing the collection effectively that every instrument has an individual number and that this is linked to the instrument’s current location, either on display or in the store.
The inventory project is computer-based and has been divided into two phases. The aim of the first phase is to complete a preliminary examination of the whole collection as quickly as possible, tagging each object with a new, randomized, five-figure inventory number, but recording only the most basic information – little more than what each object is and where it is located. The second phase will consist of a fuller examination and cataloguing of the objects, with details of maker, date, place of manufacture, acquisition and the like being recorded along with a technical description of each piece. A photograph of every object will also be taken as part of Phase II, for publication on the Web as the project progresses and in a comprehensive printed edition of the inventory after its completion.
Phase I is not proving to be as trivial as it might at first seem, especially as far as the systematic naming of instruments is concerned. So far 3,718 objects have been recorded in the inventory to date.