While the renovation work in Kolk 14-22 continues, we as a team in the background are taking the opportunity to prepare for the opening of KOLK 17 Puppet Theatre & Museum planned for 2024. Part of this preparation involves gathering data. That sounds a bit dry. Why do we need data? What data is to be found in a museum anyway?
Data is created in museum work during our work with the collection. We collect data during the systematic process of cataloguing and caring for our objects. For example, it is important to tell the architects and exhibition planners of the new building how big our objects are, what room temperatures and light they can tolerate. After all, the exhibition should be an aesthetic experience. But our future visitors naturally also want to learn as much interesting information as possible about the objects themselves. That’s why we collect, document and store all the relevant data. Our researchers investigate and research the stories of the puppets, establishing connections to people, organisations and places and naturally, this being a museum – everything is recorded. This is the data stored in the museum. Then there is the material aspect of our objects: If a puppet is in a damaged condition, we need to be sure whether it can be exhibited at all and if so, whether it needs conservation or restoration treatment beforehand. This process must then be started in good time and also documented.
Seven team members from the various departments of our museum enter all of this data into our database. Some of this data builds on other data or is linked together. And because all of this data should be be able to be understood and be comprehensible both for the programme of our database and for anyone who wants to build on it or deal with it, the unambiguousness and uniformity of the data maintenance is very important as we also work together with other museums and puppet theatre institutions. In order for this to work well, we first agree within the team which data is to be recorded where, how and in what form. For this purpose, we create in-house guidelines that contain the corresponding specifications. These guidelines are based on theoretical considerations on the basis of the objects in our collection, the data appearance of our database and rules and regulations of national and international standards, as well as on feedback from the practical application of our colleagues and external companies which work with us. And so there is, for example, a handout for recording basic data on figures (dimensions, material, location, etc.), several handouts for special vocabularies, one for the procedure of documentation of condition, etc. All these handouts are directories accompanying our work. At the same time, however, the field of handbooks has become an area of work in its own right, because they not only have to be compiled, but also supplemented and revised at irregular intervals. For example, the rules we follow and the databases we work with are subject to their own updates or perhaps a new exhibition is being planned and prepared. And that’s why we’ll stop here, work is calling. Look forward with us to KOLK 17 Puppet Theatre & Museum!
Our article in the current Pupppetry International: Developing & Designing Knowledge Spaces For Puppetry