Documentation of Museum Collections

Ibn Luyun, Escuela de Estudios Árabes ©UNESCO

Documentation of collections in many museums in the world is still poorly organized, inconsistent and sometimes non-existent. This is a significant threat as collections poorly inventoried can disappear and cannot be used properly. In addition, the absence of official records hinders appropriate actions in case of theft or illicit trafficking. The improvement of museum documentation is the focus of most UNESCO projects since it is the first "level of protection" for collections.

New technologies offer many advantages for improvements of museum documentation. The use of computerized documentation systems allows the comparison of many different sources. They also facilitate museum managerial work but also research, preparation of exhibitions, publications and proper public access to collections.

However, given the variety of levels at which infrastructures are arranged, it is important to understand how the museum community in different countries can adjust to the requirements for systematization, the development of standards, and user-friendly systems.


  • Provide necessary skills and tools to analyse and adapt museum documentation systems to specific needs
  • Equip museums with minimum documentation systems for their collections, in manual or computerized forms

Activities: Consult ICCROM’s webpage for partnership activities concerning documentation


  • Measurable improvements of documentation systems in 6-10 museums in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in the framework of the pilot project
  • A web-resource including case-studies, methodologies, teaching and learning tools and relevant links, accessible to the wider museum network

Reports and materials:

Other key areas of the partnership:

For more information on the UNESCO-ICCROM Partnership for the Preventive Conservation of Museum Collections in Developing Countries (2007-2010), contact: Nao Hayashi, UNESCO Section of Museums and Cultural Objects

Project Start Date: 01-01-2007   End Date: 31-12-2010

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