Minnetrista Blogs

Meet Theodore Bear, Collections expert

I bet you don’t know how museums keep track of all the terrific things people donate. I know I didn’t when I first came to Minnetrista in 1988 as part of the Heritage Collection. Since then I’ve learned a lot. In fact, I’ve learned so much that the collections staff asked me to introduce you to something they do every day – cataloging.

Cataloging is the method museums use to give each object its own special identity. Of course I’ve always had a name – Theodore Bear, Teddy for short – but now I also have my own museum catalog number – 88.31.616. The 88 is the year I came to Minnetrista. The 31 indicates that the items my family gave were recorded as the 31st donation that year. 616 means that I was the 616th friend in the donation to get a new number. Once I had my new number, it was carefully stitched on so everyone will remember who I am. And yes, the tag itches.

In 2009, the collections specialist cataloged some new arrivals, so let’s follow along with Katrien, the next friend in line. Katrien received her new number, 2009.42.23, and then the collections specialist recorded everything about her: eyes, hair, hands, legs, clothing – nothing is left out. Measurements are next, especially her height and width.

After writing a description which tells us all about Katrien, the collections specialist recorded any problems: tears in Katrien’s dress, scratches, chips, fading and lots of other things a lady would rather keep to herself. This is important so Katrien can get the right kind of help if a problem gets worse.

Katrien thinks she’s pretty cute, so she enjoyed the next step, having
her picture taken. Then it was time to assign her a new home. The
collections specialist used acid-free paper and an acid-free box to give
Katrien a special place where she can stay safe and secure until it’s
time for her to go on exhibit.

Well, that’s all there is to it.
Wasn’t that easy? I hope you’ll come and visit the next time my friends
and I are on exhibit. Tell them at the front desk that Teddy sent you.