Cataloguing collection painstakingly slow task

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Tucked away behind the scenes at Central Stories Museum & Art Gallery in Alexandra lies a gold-mine of memories.

The job of cataloguing and sorting this archive goes to collections manager Sheridan Easdale, but a huge backlog of items could make her task a challenge to complete.

Since December, Ms Easdale has been doing what she can to organise the collection within her part time role of 16 hours a week.

‘‘When I started doing this, I found that things were quite difficult to find in the collection.’’

There was a catalogue but over time it had become progressively less reliable, and there were many unrecorded items.

The collection was vast, including paintings, photographs, clothing, clocks, trophies, toys, stuffed animals, mining equipment, home appliances, ceramics, glass, letters, journals, and more.

The collection spanned from ancient fossils to fashion such as garments from the WoolOn woollen fashion event.

‘‘You name it, there is probably something here, wedding dresses, uniforms, nightdresses, pillowcases, sheepskin coat, everything,’’ Ms Easdale said.

‘‘We’ve got quite a big doll collection, there are things with delicate mechanisms like clocks, and we’ve got some more valuable bits and pieces.’’

There was a ‘‘huge backlog’’ of donated items, some dating back to 2009, yet to be accessioned — recording the item and entering data into their digital catalogue.

Ms Easdale had begun ‘‘going right back to basics’’ — rearranging the collection so objects were grouped together ‘‘so that you can come to something like natural history and it is all here, instead of in six different places’’.

Working at a museum meant thinking about the future as well as the past.

An example were some of the more recent developments such as the Otago Central Rail Trail.

‘‘You’ve got to think in 100 years people are going to be fascinated by the early history of the rail trail.’’

One of the benefits was the joy of artefacts’ history being gradually revealed through progressive new information.

‘‘People have done fantastic work to get it to this point and getting this purpose-built facility, but it has got such a long way to go.’’