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published: April, 2002
Documenting the V&A's collecting, publishing, and exhibiting history
Session: Thinking Big
In recent years, the UK's Victoria and Albert Museum has embarked upon various projects designed to improve access to information about its collections, publications and exhibitions. An increasing proportion of the Museum's curatorial objects are included in the Collections Information System (CIS), and the V&A's National Art Library http://www.nal.vam.ac.uk is close to completing a major project to transfer all its older records to an online catalogue. An Online Museum project has been established, and the V&A's web site http://www.vam.ac.uk has been relaunched.
In addition to populating these core information and documentation systems, V&A staff have embarked upon various initiatives designed to capture crucial information relating to the Museum's own historic activities. Examples include the compilation of a comprehensive bibliography and chronology of the V&A's publishing and exhibition history, and the computerisation of the Museum's institutional records. In collaboration with staff and students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, an online version of the full text of important documents relating to the Museum's earliest acquisitions is also being created, in XML format.
The paper attempts to demonstrate how the various projects relate to other information systems and standards in the V&A and indeed elsewhere, with reference to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), Computer Interchange of Museum Information (CIMI),Encoded Archival Description (EAD), Spectrum and MARC21, among others.