As we saw a little earlier with both the UNESCO convention and the Council of Europe convention concerning the protection of heritage, it has long been agreed that inventories play a vital role in the responsible management of cultural heritage and that they also have a significant place in major international conventions relating to the protection of heritage.

But what exactly is an inventory?

Broadly speaking, the Petit Robert dictionary defines an inventory as "a process that consists of counting and describing the elements that make up the assets of a group, of a succession, etc.", or "a meticulous and detailed examination of a group of things."

In the context of heritage collections, taking an inventory therefore involves conducting a systematic survey of all the elements that make up the collections as such. Everything in the museum's collections must be catalogued, without exception. However, one institution could create an inventory by collecting a minimal amount of information on each object, while another could decide to collect more.

From an information standpoint, taking inventory of a collection involves choosing which quantity of information will be collected for each object in the collection. This process enables you to distinguish between two types of inventories: counts and physical inventory.

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