Rio Grande County Museum hits halfway point in digitalization project

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — The Rio Grande County Museum has been closed since before Christmas and during the closure, has been working to digitize its entire artifact collection.

Leading up to the temporary closure, the museum worked with Rio Grande County Commissioners and their nonprofit board to get tools and software in place to make the enormous project easier to complete. The museum has reached the halfway point in their project.

With three rooms packed full of treasures, museum staff had their work cut out for them. Each item, whether it was a small cup or a tiny piece of jewelry, was being handled with care, cleaned, and entered into a program through PastPerfect Museum software.

This program enables the museum to catalogue and properly inventory each item throughout the museum which in turn creates a database that will allow staff, researchers, and members of the public to find items that belonged to family and historical figures. The project was tedious and time consuming, but the result will bring the museum up to national standards.

In addition to the inventory project, the museum has also worked to create policies with commissioners that will help with future management of the collection house at the beloved institution. Two policies were created to aid in management techniques that will serve to protect and preserve the collection.

The first policy titled “Rio Grande County Museum Artifact Collections Policy” helps museum staff navigate artifacts that are donated to the museum.

“This document contains policies for management of the permanent collections of the Rio Grande County Museum, delineates the circumstances and methods by which materials shall be accessioned to and deaccessioned from the museum’s collections, establishes policies on ongoing and incoming loans, and states principals governing access to the museum’s collections and records,” officials said.

The Artifact and Collection Policy is in place to ensure the management of the collection moves forward and grants access to the collection for researchers, staff, and the public. It also serves as a public trust contract that creates a secure method by which the museum functions within the community.

The second policy adopted by the county is the Reference and Archival Access Policy. This policy is in place to ensure that the collection is handled properly when accessed by researchers and the public. Procedures are now in place to make sure documents, such as pictures or 150-year-old newspapers, are only accessed with the help of trained staff. For these artifacts to last another 150 years it is imperative that they are processed and handled with the utmost care.

In addition to the inventory and policy changes, the museum is also undergoing a complete makeover. By the time the institution opens in the spring, the entire building will be different with new flooring, exhibits and a calendar of events for the entire community to enjoy.