Sunday, December 17

IGNCA’s initiative for upgrading storage of ethnographic collection, New Delhi, May 2013

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New Delhi, May 2013: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) completed a two-week course for re-documentation of its ethnographic collections. The course was initiated on UNESCO’s recommendations for upgrading storages at museums worldwide.

According to a survey conducted by UNICCO and ICCROM in 2011, the museums worldwide exhibit 10 percent of their total collections. The rest are kept in storages and these warehouses lack space, proper records and trained staff. As a follow up of this sad picture, professionals from 132 countries asked ICCROM to launch a long term programme to train and built capacity for staff working in museums.

This appeal was taken into serious consideration by IGNCA which decided to run a course to re-organize part of the storage of the ethnographic collection in 2011. It was followed by another pilot action in 2012 in the Crafts Museum and encouraged by the results, the IGNCA decided to conduct a third experience which took place in April 2013.

Fifteen young professionals took part in the two week course, which involved evolving a complete documentation system including the accession book, the main index, a location system, a movement book, two secondary indices, and individual files. The propose documentation system is both manual and computerized.

Elaborating on the initiative, Ms. Dipali Khanna, Member Secretary, IGNCA said, “We are thankful to ICCROM and the National Museum of Catalunya for their support. We hope that after such a course, the participants will utilize their knowledge to other Indian museums which require re-organizing their documentation in order to better use and exhibit their collection for the benefit of the public, the visitors and the scholars.”


ICCROM (International Center for the study of the conservation and the restoration of cultural property) has been created by UNESCO in 1958 to advise member countries to better conserve their cultural heritage (monuments, archeological sites, libraries, archives and museums).

This intergovernmental Institution has 132 member countries, India being one of them. ICCROM is based out of Rome-Italy)

The survey

All over the world, Museums exhibits 10% of their collections. The rest is kept in the storages where they come out for temporary exhibition or when they are loan to others Museums all over the world

If for many people museum’s storages look like cavern of Ali Baba, they will hardly imagine the disorder which exist in most of the Museums in India and all over the world. This situation has been put in evidence by the survey made by ICCROM (1) and UNICCO in 2011.

Following were the results of the survey

2 in 3 museums have

  • Lack of space

1 in 2 museums

  • Lack of storage units
  • Overcrowded storage units

2 in 5 museums

  • Lack of management support for storage related activities
  • Lack of trained staff
  • Large backlog of objects to be accessioned
  • Storage units not adapted to the types of objects

1 in 3 museums

  • Unclear responsibility of storage
  • Unclear procedures for storage management
  • Lack of regular cleaning
  • Building in a poor state of repair

1 in 4 museums

  • No object movement register
  • No accession register (or not up to date)
  • No location codes for storage units or aisles
  • No main catalogue (paper or computerized)
  • Objects directly on the floor

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