Collections documentation standards

Browse museum collection documentation standards and best practices recommended by the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and other organizations. Find standards for describing and cataloguing collections and learn how to define and structure your data.

Title Source
Adopting a Classification System for Collections of Cultural Objects: A Comparison of Nomenclature 4.0 and the Parks Canada Classification System

Museums in Canada that are documenting their historical collections in English generally use either Nomenclature, or the Parks Canada Classification System. This paper will provide an overview and comparison of these two North American standards, and guide museums in their choice.

Standards Type: CHIN Core Standards (Type), Vocabulary and Classification (Type)
Vocabulary and Classification: Object Naming and Classification (Vocabulary)
Discipline: History and Ethnology (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Artefacts Canada

Browse the Artefacts Canada database, containing approximately 5 million object records and 1 million images from Canadian museums.

Standards Type: Vocabulary and Classification (Type)
Vocabulary and Classification: Artist/Maker (Vocabulary), Creator Role (Vocabulary), Culture (Vocabulary), Description (Vocabulary), Discipline (Vocabulary), Materials and Techniques (Vocabulary), Object Naming and Classification (Vocabulary), Place Names (Vocabulary), Subject (Vocabulary), Time Periods and Styles (Vocabulary)
Discipline: Archaeology (Discipline), Art and Visual Resources (Discipline), Digital and Media Art (Discipline), History and Ethnology (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Artists in Canada

Artists in Canada, compiled and maintained by the National Gallery of Canada Library, is a bilingual union list that identifies the location of documentation files on Canadian artists. Libraries and art galleries across Canada have contributed biographical information and lists of their documentation files to create this resource which contains information for more than 55,000 artists. Each record includes: - biographical information on the artist - artist technique - name variants Available in English and French.

Standards Type: CHIN Core Standards (Type), Vocabulary and Classification (Type)
Vocabulary and Classification: Artist/Maker (Vocabulary)
Discipline: Art and Visual Resources (Discipline), History and Ethnology (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
CAMDO / ODMAC Canadian Holocaust-Era Provenance Research and Best Practice Guidelines 

The Canadian Holocaust-Era Provenance Research and Best Practice Guidelines Project (CHERP) is an initiative of the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO-ODMAC). The guidelines have been developed with the goal to empower Canadian art institutions to understand and embrace their stewardship responsibilities in Holocaust-era provenance research, and to undertake their own research in the coming years. In presenting these guidelines, CAMDO-ODMAC joins international research efforts to aid potential claimants worldwide in their pursuit of restitution and justice.

Standards Type: Procedural (Type)
Discipline: Art and Visual Resources (Discipline)

Other
CHIN Data Dictionaries

The Canadian Heritage Information Network's Data Dictionaries for the Humanities and Natural Sciences have proven to be valuable reference tools for the management of museum and gallery collections information. A data dictionary defines all the categories or types of information in a database. The CHIN Data Dictionaries are not a data structure for use in a collections management system, but they can be used as the basis for such a structure. They can be used by a wide range of museums to help them to identify their institution's information needs and standardize their documentation. Each data field in the CHIN Data Dictionaries is described by a field label, a mnemonic, and a name. Fields include a definition, entry rules, related fields, a data type, examples, a discipline, authority lists, a source, and other information. The CHIN Data Dictionaries are used: - as the standard for Canadian institutions that contribute collections data to CHIN's Artefacts Canada; - as guidelines for institutions which are developing or modifying a collections management system; - to promote the consistent recording of information by cataloguers, or to provide users of collections databases with search strategies.

Standards Type: CHIN Core Standards (Type), Metadata (Type)
Discipline: Art and Visual Resources (Discipline), History and Ethnology (Discipline), Natural Sciences (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
CHIN Guide to Museum Standards

This guide contains basic information on why museum documentation standards are important, describes the main types of standards and how they are used in Canadian museums, and provides users with access to the standards. Users can learn about standards at a basic level, or find detailed information as required. Includes standards that are required or recommended by CHIN for Artefacts Canada contribution, as well as other standards that are commonly used by Canadian museums. This Guide includes standards for metadata, vocabulary and classification, data content, data exchange, and museum procedures. It includes standards from a wide variety of disciplines (e.g. Art & Visual Resources; History & Ethnology; Education) and includes both general standards (e.g. Dublin Core) and highly specialized standards (e.g. the ICOM Costume Classification). The following sections are included: - Introduction - Metadata (Data Structure Standards) - Vocabulary (Data Value Standards) - Cataloguing Rules (Data Content Standards) - Interchange (Data Format Standards) - Procedural Standards Available in English and French.

Standards Type: Cataloguing Rules (Type), CHIN Core Standards (Type), Crosswalk (Type), Interchange (Type), Introduction to Standards (Type), Metadata (Type), Procedural (Type), Thesaurus Construction (Type), Vocabulary and Classification (Type)
Discipline: Multidisciplinary (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Introduction to Documentation of Heritage Collections

The course entitled Introduction to Documentation of Heritage Collections allows you to acquire a fundamental knowledge and to develop the required competency levels needed to successfully carry out a collections documentation project in your institution. This introductory course on the documentation of heritage collections will allow you to: - learn basic theoretical concepts on the documentation of heritage collections; - identify the available tools and recommended ways of documenting collections efficiently; - use appropriate criteria to make informed choices that are adapted to your specific needs. Available in French and English.

Standards Type: Procedural (Type)
Discipline: Multidisciplinary (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Making Up the Rules: New Documentation Standards for Canadian Museums

Museums are managing their collections documentation in an increasingly networked environment, and are facing ever-changing user expectations for information access and interaction. In this context, the role and importance of museum documentation standards has grown, as data standardization and sharing become key. There are many recent developments in documentation standards for museums, and Canadian museums and the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) have contributed extensively to the development of these standards. This paper provides an overview of key museum documentation standards used in Canada, and describes some new developments. Originally published in French in the journal Documentation et bibliothèques (58 : 3, July-September 2012), it has been published here with the editor’s authorization, the Association pour l’avancement des sciences techniques de la documentation (ASTED)

Standards Type: Introduction to Standards (Type)
Discipline: Libraries and Archives (Discipline), Multidisciplinary (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Media Art and Museums: Guidelines and Case Studies

Various international research groups have been formed to facilitate the acquisition and long-term management of media artworks. Based in Montreal, the DOCAM Research Alliance (Documentation and Conservation of the Media Arts Heritage) is made up of researchers in cultural organizations and universities. In collaboration with the DOCAM Research Alliance, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) has developed documentation and conservation methods adapted to media artworks in museums and identified the ethical issues associated with them.

Standards Type: Metadata (Type), Procedural (Type)
Discipline: Digital and Media Art (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Parks Canada Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects (Parks DVD)

Parks Canada and CHIN have collaborated to create this Web version of the Parks Canada Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects (Parks DVD). The Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects is a bilingual museum classification system and vocabulary standard used in Canada for humanities collections. It helps museums cataloguing collections to identify, name, and classify objects using definitions and illustrations. This classification system is based on an object's original function (the purpose for which the object was created). Museums can consult the Parks Canada Descriptive and Visual Dictionary of Objects online, navigating through the hierarchical classification structure, or searching for definitions of categories, classes or object terms. Images and descriptions of many terms are included.

Standards Type: Vocabulary and Classification (Type)
Vocabulary and Classification: Object Naming and Classification (Vocabulary)
Discipline: Art and Visual Resources (Discipline), History and Ethnology (Discipline)
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Spectrum Digital Asset Management

The aim of this document is to set out a proposed methodology by which digital asset management can be integrated alongside the existing curatorial and management functions of the organisation to ensure that they are widely adopted and sustained as a core element of practice. This document provides information and guidance on the development of a Digital Asset Management Strategy (DAM Strategy), associated DAM Policies, the implementation of a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) and the integration of Digital Asset Management Workflows (DAM Workflows) alongside the existing SPECTRUM Collections Management processes.

Standards Type: CHIN Core Standards (Type), Procedural (Type)
Vocabulary and Classification: Object Naming and Classification (Vocabulary)
Discipline: Multidisciplinary (Discipline)
Other

Contact information for this web page

This resource was published by the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN). For comments or questions regarding this content, please contact CHIN directly. To find other online resources for museum professionals, visit the CHIN homepage or the Museology and conservation topic page on Canada.ca.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Privacy statement

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: