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iPads for Registrars

1 June 15 -- jsuess
Christina Geron, Assistant Registrar, Ashmolean Museum

This post is part of a series highlighting outcomes of the Innovation Fund in 2014-15 - Read about the Innovation Fund.

Image - Packing image for report for loan out

The Registrar’s Department at the Ashmolean Museum was very excited to undertake a project for using the iPad to do Registrarial day to day tasks such as condition reporting, incident reporting and creating packing reports for outward and inward loans. We have found the iPad easy to use and a wonderful tool for having information and images at our fingertips, although we have found it to be dependent on the availability of Wi-Fi. Fortuitously, the museum has recently improved Wi-Fi through the Ashmolean and some of the stores.

Early on in the process we met with our colleagues at the Pitt Rivers Museum who use and designed their own collections management system with FileMaker Pro, a software system that we wished to implement. They took us through the advantages and disadvantages but ultimately showed us how flexible and malleable the system was to tailor to our exact needs. We also spoke to the Head Registrar, Brent Mitchell, at the Fort Worth Museum, Texas who has developed various systems for using the iPad for Registrar tasks and he kindly shared a lot of information to get us started on our own database.

We trialled the iPad for our exhibition William Blake: Apprentice and Master earlier in 2015 and found it especially useful for recording packing information and images. It made recording these details easier and having them available in a digital format was timesaving. 

We plan to pilot our full database for our Autumn 2015 exhibition Drawing in Venice: Titian to Canaletto. The database will be available through the iPad on the exhibition floor for the Registrar and Exhibitions teams. We hope in the future our database will link to and record wider information on display requirements, courier details, display designs etc. 

The tools we are developing will be taught and shared with our Conservation Department and Collection Management colleagues. The process is a cumulative one but with some joined up thinking across these departments we will make the iPad an instrument to clearly, quickly and easily share information whether we are abroad installing a touring exhibition or in our own galleries preparing an object for loan.