Initially created in 1995, Auckland Museum’s Registration section has grown from a department of one to a team of four. Registration staff oversee all object movements in and out of the building, and are responsible for managing acquisitions and maintaining the collection database.
As part of the Stage 02 project a new collections store has been developed. Registration is responsible for the relocation of objects, currently house at our off-site facility, into the new collections store. This is a significant logistical exercise which involves inventorying the collections at off-site, packing objects for transport, taking steps to minimise risk from pests (insects, mould, etc which can potentially damage our objects) and overseeing the move into the new store. The project also requires strict maintenance of inventory control over the collection (i.e. knowing where each object is at all times). A small dedicated team are currently moving the collections and, as of May 2007, 20% of the collection has been moved into the new store.
Registration has also had a significant involvement in the planning of the new collection store. The standard museum-wide location numbering system was implemented within the store before any objects were moved in so that inventory control could be maintained.
Acquisitions are new objects obtained by the Museum for its collection; these can be gifts, bequests, or purchases. Initially objects are selected by curators and then passed through several areas for comment and approval. The Museum is careful about selecting objects due to the increasing pressures on storage space. Once an object has been selected and approved, Registration processes the paperwork, provides accession numbers and creates the initial database records.
Loans refer to any objects that come into, or go out of, the Museum for a finite time (this may be days or years) and are ultimately to be returned to the lender, or the museum. All loans are processed through Registration, which is responsible for negotiating and producing loan agreements, ensuring loans conditions are meet, organising packing and transportation, dealing with insurance, and overseeing the physical movement of the objects in and out of the Museum building. Sometimes many individual loans are gathered in together to make a special exhibition, such as Sir Edmund Hillary: Everest and Beyond in the summer of 2002/2003.
Exhibitions refer to special displays that are on show for a finite period of time, usually a few months. Many exhibitions come on tour from other institutions. Registration manages all the logistics for touring exhibitions (both nationally and internationally), ranging from small exhibitions with 20-30 objects, to exhibitions consisting of hundreds of objects coming from around the world. Registration negotiates contractual arrangements in consultation with the Museums Exhibitions Manager and ensures that all conditions can be met. Registration is solely responsible for dealing with customs, transport companies, MAF, etc and overseeing shipments on and off planes and trucks, etc.
In 1997 Auckland Museum began a major databasing project. This is an ongoing project, which involves creating electronic records for all objects in the collection on the Vernon database with the ultimate goal of making this database publicly accessible. Maintaining and managing this collection database is a vital role in Registration. Registration is responsible for creating records for new acquisitions, managing the backlog data-entry of original registers (often through grant funded positions), facilitating user group meetings, providing training, managing the standardisation project, and facilitating solutions to any problems which may arise. Registration is particularly responsible for maintaining information about how objects were acquired and their current status, i.e. on loan, accessioned, etc. Part of this process is managed through an ongoing project of collating old correspondence, referring to acquisitions, into a single filing system.