Whether you call yourself a Registrar, Curator, Curator of Collections, Collections Manager or any number of other titles you are most likely doing condition reports.
A good condition report is an accurate and informative account of an object’s state of preservation at a particular moment in time. Condition reports can have multiple functions such as recording the state of an object prior to an exhibition or loan, after exhibition or loan, to assist in collections planning, or as a tool for the treatment of an object. Most of these functions can be conducted by a registrar, curator, collections manager, or volunteer.A good condition report fills many critical needs including:
The fifth edition of Basic Condition Reporting: A Handbook proffers a standard vocabulary for all of the individuals in a museum that may be conducting condition reports. In an ideal world, everyone who does a condition report for an item would be trained in the exact same standards, use the same terminology, and use the exact same form, etc. However, the reality is that even if every registrar, collections manager, and curator in your institution does condition reports, each report will be slightly different. Then you throw in every intern, volunteer, or student that may assist and you will find a variety of methods and terminologies that appear. This volume provides a baseline that all of these people can work from so that any person who opens the condition report can understand what the problems on a particular piece include.
Basic Condition Reporting, Fifth Edition is a great resource for learning the basics of doing condition reports for museum objects. The book looks at different material types and helps new and seasoned professionals identify condition issues for a variety of materials. This new addition has several new chapters including information on digital condition reporting, wood objects, mixed media objects and taxidermy while expanding the information for existing chapters. This book is a great resource for those new to the museum field and a handy reference to collections professionals.
The Southeastern Registrars Association (SERA) was founded in the 1970s to encourage high standards of museum practice and professional growth among museum registrars in the southeastern region of the United States. Throughout the years they have promoted the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas through publications, seminars, and other means. Basic Condition Reporting has become one of their premier publications with many copies sold both domestically and internationally.
Deborah Rose Van Horn has worked in the museum field now for over 20 years in the areas of registration, collections management, collections development, and curation. Deb is a former board member for both the Southeastern Registrars Association (SERA) and RC-AAM (now CS-AAM). In addition, Deb has written and edited several publications including Basic Condition Reporting, 4th edition and Registration Methods for the Small Museum, 5th edition.
Corinne Midgett has over ten years of experience as a registrar and collections manager. She serves as chair of the Southeastern Registrars Association and was co-editor of Basic Condition Reporting, 4th Edition.
Heather Culligan has over ten years of experience in collections management and registration in history museums and historic structures. Heather is a former co-instructor of Collections Management in Museums at the University of West Georgia, a former board member of the Southeastern Registrars Association (SERA), and served as a co-editor of Basic Condition reporting, 4th Edition.
Corinne Midgett, Chair, Southeastern Registrars Association
Chapter One: Condition Reporting: An Introductory Primer
Deborah Rose Van Horn and Heather Culligan
Chapter Two: Condition Reports for Incoming and Outgoing Loans
Michelle Gallagher Roberts
Chapter Three: Digital Condition Reporting
Chapter Four: Archaeological Artifacts
Chapter Five: Basketry
Chapter Six: Ceramics
Chapter Seven: Ethnographic Collections
Chapter Eight: Furniture
Misty Tillson Jackson
Chapter Nine: Glass
Chapter Ten: Metals
Chapter Eleven: Mixed Media Objects
Robin P. Croskery Howard
Chapter Twelve: Natural History Collections
Chapter Thirteen: Paintings and Frames
Chapter Fourteen: Paper
Chapter Fifteen: Photographs
Stephanie Gaub Antequino
Chapter Sixteen: Plastics
Chapter Seventeen: Sculpture
Chapter Eighteen: Skin and Leather
Chapter Nineteen: Taxidermy
Chapter Twenty: Textiles
Chapter Twenty-one: Wood
About the Southeastern Registrars Association
About the Editors and Contributors
As a registrar at an academic museum, I rely on Basic Condition Reporting as a vital resource for training interns and students in the museums studies program. The revised fifth edition continues to provide the core terms and procedures needed for properly condition reporting objects of all types, while also addressing the various uses for condition reports and the ever-changing approaches to conducting the reports in the digital world. Basic Condition Reporting is a must-have for both emerging and seasoned museum collections professionals.
This updated and expanded edition of the well-respected standard handbook for condition reporting includes new chapters on digital condition reporting, wood, and taxidermy, along with detailed definitions, updated references and clear guidelines. This is an invaluable resource that every registrar, collection manager, and curator should have at hand.
This synergistic collaboration of professionals with specializations in a variety of artifact types guides readers to document condition thoroughly with useful methods and terminology. The value of this manual extends well beyond condition reporting; it also addresses artifact care and cataloging and serves as an excellent introduction to working with collections.
The breadth of information included in Basic Condition Reporting: A Handbook, 5th Edition is so complete that every collection-care professional will be able to find the terminology best suited to condition any object or artwork. In my fourteen years as Registrar, I’ve habitually used this handbook and will continue to do so with the expanded 5th edition.
Basic Condition Reporting ought to be a staple of any museum collection professional’s library. The fifth edition, which includes new guidance on digital condition reporting, brings the world of condition reporting up to speed with the realities of a post-pandemic society.