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Collection Services

What is Collection Services?

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Collection Services is a key component in the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporations function of heritage preservation and knowledge dissemination. Through our day-to-day activities we make the collection accessible both intellectually and physically.

Management of the collection requires rigid control of all artifacts and supporting documentation. This includes careful compliance with national standards for the management of artifact information. Collection management also requires attention to environmental conditions necessary for the physical preservation of the collection and this is done in co-operation with the Corporations Conservation Division. We document and catalogue the artifacts and facilitate access through a variety of computer programs and publications. Information on the collection is also accessible through the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN)

Cataloguing Criteria

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An artifact record consists of a variety of fields ranging from quantitative fields such as the classification, manufacturer, model and source fields, to more descriptive fields, such as details of decoration or materials of construction and function. There are key fields that indicate whether an artifact has been fully catalogued or not, e.g., manufacturer and materials of construction. We now catalogue all new artifacts to these standards and, as time permits, we re-catalogue artifact records created before computerization to bring them up to these standards. Skeleton computer records do, however, exist for the yet-to-be-recatalogued material.

The formal definition of these standards is as follows: for an artifact to be catalogued to Corporation standards it must be available on the computerized collection management system and it must have an indication in key fields that a review of available information was undertaken. These key fields are the manufacturer and the materials of construction. An indication of ‘‘UNKNOWN’’ will constitute an appropriate response for the manufacturer when research has failed to yield the manufacturers name. For statistical inference, an artifact that falls into the ‘‘to be recatalogued’’ area will lack information in both of these key fields. Likewise, an artifact that falls into the ‘‘to be enriched’’ area will have an entry for manufacturer but lack information in the materials of construction.

Documentation Criteria

The Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation has developed a series of standards to evaluate whether or not an artifacts catalogue record is considered to be documented. These are as follows: for an artifact to be documented to Corporation standards, the available information will go beyond that normally provided in fulfilling the Corporations cataloguing standard. An overall view of the artifacts role in the development of a technology and its relationship to society will be detailed. For the sake of statistical inference, an artifact will be regarded as documented when one or both of the significant fields have been completed. This means there must be a reference on the computer database to the artifacts significance to Canada and/or technology.

(Developed by the Collection and Research Branch, 1992; revised, 1993).


Few museums covering our subject disciplines have developed extensive collection classification systems. The Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation developed its own system prior to the advent of computerized collection management. With the advent of computerization, the system has evolved into a series of interconnected databases, which continue to grow and evolve.

The collection lexicon starts with the subject areas laid out in the Museums mandate. These are as follows:

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Artifacts by Group

These subject areas are then expanded to the 28 groups (click on image on the left), which become the first level for our computer records. The bar graph on the left illustrates these groups and number of artifacts in each group. Each group is then subdivided into categories and subcategories that itemize the various artifact types.



Services Provided by Collection Services

  • On-site accompanied consultation of the collection for museum and institution professionals
  • On-site assisted access to artifacts for photography for other museums and institutions
  • On-site access to research materials housed with the collection for museum and institutional professionals
  • Photocopying at a minimal charge to researchers
  • Public tours of the collection on a limited number of days throughout the year, such as during the Christmas and March breaks and International Museum Day (tours are arranged through the Interpretation Division)

Loans can be made from the collection; however, they must fit within the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation Loans Policy and must originate through a curator from the Curatorial Division.

Hours of Operation

By special appointment only; Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (closed weekends and holidays).


Director, Collection Services
Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation
P.O. Box 9724, Station T
Ottawa, Ontario  K1G 5A3

Telephone: 613 991-3233
Fax: 613 991-6647


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