Cataloging and Related Works

This week’s reading was interesting in that it almost sounded like an instruction manual on how to set up a museum (at least to me.) With the way the author narrates the article, this could very well prove to become something like “Museums for Dummies.”

Anyways, what I found most interesting was the discussion in part one about related works. The reading describes related works as having important conceptual relationship with each other, and are most relevant for works with multiple parts, works of architecture, collections of works, and works in a series. The article goes to say that it is most important to record works that have a direct relationship with the work of art being cataloged, especially when the connection is not obvious i.e. works by the same artist or with the same subject are apparent, but if one of these works is “preparatory for another,” that connection is not as apparent and must be recorded. In order to aid this, the CCO recommends distinguishing between intrinsic relationships–relationships that enable effective searches, such as by artist or subject–and extrinsic relationships–where two or more works have a relationship that is informative, but not essential either physically or logically in identifying either of the works.

When I read this, I couldn’t help but recall my trip to the Broad for my museum report this past week, where I couldn’t up but ask myself while walking around, why were certain pieces placed in the same room as other pieces–along with, “Why is there a taxidermy sheep in a tank of water in the middle of this room?” If they are from different artists, what connection do they have with one another? What does a golden urinal have to do with the with Barbara Kruger? Why are certain pieces chosen to be in a room of their own? This weeks reading hinted at some possible answers to this; perhaps some of these works held extrinsic relationships that art-newbies, such as myself, could not identify right off the bat.

3 thoughts on “Cataloging and Related Works”

  1. I love the idea of connecting works! I think that’s probably how we begin to form meaning, isn’t it? That is, by connecting objects to objects, we bring coherence to a jumbled universe. So that simple act of connecting one work to another in the metadata is existentially significant!

  2. I like your alternate title for the piece, “Museum for Dummies.” So true! I knew that there was much more than just aesthetic value taken into consideration when setting up a museum, but didn’t think through all of the factors that went into the display strategy. Likewise, I will definitely think more critically next time I go to a museum, and keep in mind this article.

    1. I also thought the relational aspect of organizing objects within an archive was super interesting. It also reminds me of this weeks reading, in which Charles Zange discusses how, “networks are obligatory in order for community voice (the stories, inferences, and understandings of a given object by the people who made and interpret that object in real time.” Perhaps there should be more of an emphasis on the relationships between objects, socially, historically, and aesthetically in archival practices?

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