fall 2013 coverThis article, by Ron Kley, offers recollections of a participant in the earliest developments of Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging. Kley remains actively involved in the evolution of that classification/lexicon project – with a retrospective look at antecedents dating back to Biblical times, and some speculation regarding the future course(s) of the initiative.

Takeaway Messages 

  1. The Nomenclature concept of controlled artifact vocabulary, and classification of objects according to function, is nothing new, yet the pursuit of these objectives remains an ongoing and evolving initiative to keep pace with users’ expressed needs and ever-increasing capabilities of collection management software.
  2. Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging, as developed and maintained under the aegis of AASLH, provides a convenient ready-made guide to foster standardized naming and rational classification of material culture in museum collections.

Questions for readers

  • How long have you (or your institution) been a Nomenclature user; which edition (red, blue or green) of the system are you using; and what do feel are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the system from the perspective of your own daily working needs.
  • Do you, or does your institution, use a lexicon and/or a classification system other than Nomenclature? If so, what is it, and why do you prefer it?

Other thoughts from the author
Those involved in developing, improving, using and/or critiquing Nomenclature should be more aware of alternative systems of classification and controlled vocabulary that have been developed by, or on behalf of, collection-holding institutions worldwide. There can be much to be learned from others’ efforts, whether successful or not.