Contributed by HoJun Yu, Project Museum Collections Assistant
An interesting part of my work at PAFA is my ability to apply my scientific research background to support the grant project. Under Hoang’s (Project Director and PAFA’s Director of Archives) supervision and guidance, I have been cleaning up the museum’s collection data. The museum currently uses Mimsy XG, but the project will also see the migration and implementation of a brand new content management system (CSM). The work i’m doing will directly support the data migration to Axiell Collections. Despite the modest nature of data cleanup, the work is crucial for the museum’s operations and overall deeper understanding of its collection.
Through this process, I have been learning how to use Mimsy, which I had not used before. During my time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I mainly used FileMaker Pro to maintain and edit data for Oddy test results within the Department of Scientific Research. My experience with Mimsy so far has shown me that it is more customizable and flexible than FileMaker Pro.
The reason the data portion of my work is so crucial is that collections staff rely heavily on the information that is stored in Mimsy. Whether curating exhibitions or analyzing collecting trends, collections staff need to have the ability to access various bits of information on the art and the artist. In recent weeks, I have been researching and updating different aspects of the artists’ lives, such as their gender, life dates, and nationality. This type of information should be easily accessed because then for example, when a curator needs to prepare for an exhibition of art by female artists, they can just filter the search in the database by gender. Besides adding new information, I have also been cleaning up existing data. Because Mimsy can be sensitive down to every letter or space in the search bar, I need to make sure all the formatting is consistent and uses standard vocabulary.
One of the biggest challenges in this work has been researching artists who are or were not necessarily well known enough to have easily accessible information online. Sometimes, even well-established institutions had inconsistent information regarding these artists on their websites. For such situations, less conventional methods were employed, such as digging through birth records, obituaries, and even blogs written by hobbyists who have already done the meticulous research on these artists. Whenever I was able to succeed with these methods, I would save the documentation so we have it on file for future use. The purpose of this process is not only to obtain accurate information for the sake of data, but also to make the information as accessible as possible for anyone who wants to learn.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
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