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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Labels, labels, labels

By Mark Carnall, on 7 February 2011

Well where does one go from the heady heights of boxes in museum collections? Well of course, it’s labels. I have a big pile of labels now made even bigger by last week’s discovery.  Some labels are all we have left of specimens which have since left the collection, other labels provide a key piece of information that can transform the ‘value’ of a specimen. However I’ve kept these to keep me sane in those days when nothing seems to be going right. I’ve been holding onto these two for quite a while so please indulge this cathartic post. the images have been slightly tweaked with so the writing is legible on a screen.

A post it note which reads Some none data none identified specimens not transferred onto paper record at this stage as ID required zill come back to at end

This first label gives a valuable insight into how a curator works. There’s some data? No, there’s no data? No actually there’s no data that I can find right now.  “Will come back to at end” is a fine epitaph for all walks of museum professional that I might well steal.

post it note from the Grant Museum that reads All these teeth need checking on computer again- as gave up Aug 2001

This label really chimes with me too. For all the alleged efficiency that has been brought to work places with technology, when it fails completely preventing you from doing work you can’t help but want to give up sometimes.
I know the curator who made these notes and so it could be quite naughty posting these here, however, in my younger naive days I swore to never leave such notes for my successor but I’m proud to say that I’ve now left such a paper trail that not only suffices to help work with the collection but also gives a nice little nugget of the ethnography of museum curators. So much to do, so little time…

One Response to “Labels, labels, labels”

  • 1
    Paolo Viscardi wrote on 12 February 2011:

    Hmmm, these look familiar. I think I know who the author of these labels is…

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