Description and Scope of Collections

While the Artifact Collection is the Museum's main collection—and the focus of a significant portion of our research, cataloging, preservation, and access efforts—the Museum also holds a number of other collections, each with a distinct composition and scope.

Artifact Collection

The Artifact Collection is the Museum’s core collection and consists of over 50,000 objects of intrinsic value as documents of our human cultural heritage through time and throughout the world. The collection ranges from priceless original objects to mass-produced replicas and forgeries. The objects in this collection are considered valuable and irreplaceable. Preservation is of the utmost priority in any decision regarding stewardship. Objects in the Artifact Collection are primarily acquired through the generosity of donors. Purchases are limited to available funding.

Documentary Multimedia Collection

The Documentary Multimedia Collection consists of over 45,000 catalogued media items.

The subjects of these items include:

  • objects in the Museum’s collections,
  • Museum activities, exhibits, people, staff and visitors,
  • collectors and donors of the objects in the Museum’s collections,
  • acquisition of objects in the Museum’s collections,
  • research on objects in the Museum’s collections,
  • techniques and processes relevant to the Museum’s collections, and
  • other subjects of cultural, historical, or technological significance directly relating to the Museum’s collections.

The contents of the Documentary Multimedia Collection exist in various formats including but not limited to:

  • color and black and white prints,
  • glass plate negatives,
  • slides and transparencies,
  • digital images,
  • CDs and DVDs,
  • audio tapes,
  • film, and
  • video tapes.

The objects are considered valuable and irreplaceable records of the history of the institution and its collections. Preservation of the images or recordings is considered to be the utmost priority when making any decision regarding stewardship. Copying through scanning, duplicating of digital files and photocopying is emphasized to allow the Collection to be used extensively with minimal impact to the originals. The Documentary Multimedia Collection is always expanding with the incorporation of new images taken in-house or those acquired as gifts.

Teaching Collection

The Teaching Collection consists of over 5,500 cultural objects, relevant natural history specimens, books, CDs, DVDs, audio and videotapes, posters, and other media of educational value in teaching about world cultures and cultural heritage. Each object in the collection is assigned to a category, depending upon intended and/or assigned use. These categories define preservation levels and therefore the type and amount of handling permitted. Objects are used for in-house and outreach programs and events, for teaching Museum Studies, and as a lending resource for educators. In these ways the objects are made available to audiences throughout Central Illinois. Acquisitions to the Teaching Collection are made through both purchases and gifts.

Library Collection

The Library Collection consists of over 2,200 books and printed materials used as reference and research material by the Museum’s staff, volunteers, curators and other Museum associates involved in the study and care of the Museum collections, as well as for teaching Museum Studies.

The Library Collection includes:

  • books,
  • journals,
  • manuscripts,
  • auction catalogues, and
  • other printed materials.

These materials cover topics relating to:

  • the objects in the Museum Collections,
  • the preservation and conservation of artifacts,
  • the registration of collections,
  • legal issues affecting museums,
  • exhibition production and design,
  • museum interpretation and education,
  • the administration of museums, and
  • the museum profession in general.

Also included in the Collection are publications that contain references to the Museum’s history, collections, events, staff, or volunteers. Acquisitions are primarily through purchases and gifts.

Props and Furnishings Collection

The Props and Furnishings Collection consists of more than 100 objects including paintings, prints, textiles, and decorative items that are used to furnish exhibits and decorate spaces. Because their use in Museum is considered to be supportive of exhibits or decorative, they are distinguished from the objects belonging to the Museum's permanent collections. Acquisitions to the Props and Furnishings Collection are primarily through purchases and occasionally gifts.
Approved 1/14/2016.