Category Archives: Cataloging Art

Workshop – Cataloging Art Objects

In conjunction with the National Conference of Artists, Michigan Chapter, CAB is planning an art object cataloging and documentation workshop to be held in early November 2013.

The workshop will instruct artists and art collectors how to catalog their collections based on Library of Congress cataloging standards, using FileMaker Pro 12 (FM Pro) for the database.

For more information about the workshop, please contact the NCA Gallery at 313-342-1786 or view the NCA, Michigan website -

ART CART: Saving the Legacy

Camille Ann Brewer is working this spring as technical coordinator for ART CART: Saving the Legacy, an intergenerational arts legacy project that connects aging professional artists with teams of graduate students to undertake the preparation and documentation of their creative work.

The Research Center for Arts and Culture’s recent study, Above Ground: Information on Artists III: Special Focus New York City Aging Artists, revealed that artists are in many respects a model for society, maintaining strong social networks and an astonishing resilience as they age. Yet 61% of professional visual artists age 62+ have made no preparation for their work after their death; 95% have not archived their work; 97% have no estate plan; 3 out of every 4 artists have no will and 1 in 5 have no documentation of their work at all.

For the teams of artists and graduate fellows, Ms. Brewer provides technical support and guidelines for art cataloging according to museum standards.  The project employs Gallery Systems’ art database, EmbARK, for maintain objects, exhibition and artist records.

ART CART is currently working with visual artists based in New York City and Washington DC.

Tips for art collectors for maintaining good object records

I know your passion is collecting art…however for investment quality art, good record keeping is an absolute MUST!  Maintaining sound object records can save art collectors, museum registrars, collector’s heirs, insurance adjusters, attorneys, and appraisers a great deal of time, money, and energy when it comes time for resolving art-related issues.


The ideal record keeping system should maintain:

A hard-copy file. The file may contain:

The original receipt of purchase, deed of gift, or statement of trade for the object of art.

Any print photographs of the object.

Any correspondence directly related to the object and its history. Examples could include: a letter from the artist discussing the work, transportation receipts, exhibition catalogs where the object is illustrated and/or mentioned, press clipping or critical reviews mentioning the work, or any other print information about the object’s provenance.

Electronic records and files.

Object information needs to be included in an electronic database system, which uses metadata standards for art-related information.  (Standards include Getty Vocabularies and VRA Core.)  The use of cataloging standards will contribute to data integrity and the longevity of data, as data can be easily migrated to new systems as art collections, information about individual works, and the information technology evolves.

For a variety of reasons, collecting, recording, and maintaining this art object information from the moment of interest and object acquisition is helpful for the art collector in the long run.  You’ll be happy you took the time to protect your art assets.