Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Archives in the Museum Context: A Case Study on the Application of Archival Principles and Practices in the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and ...

Title: Archives in the Museum Context: A Case Study on the Application of Archival Principles and Practices in the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman


Course: Master in Library and Information Science

School: University of the Philippines, Quezon City

Subject Area: Archives, Museums

Year of Graduation: 2005

Although considered to perform similar and sometimes overlapping functions in society, archives and museums are two distinct institutions that follow different sets of standard principles and practices in managing their respective collections. In fact, the two have managed to survive for centuries without having to rely on each other. In reality, however, museums have been assuming the role of the archives in collecting historical records as evidenced by continued assimilation of archival records into museum collections. This is probably due to the absence of archival programs or facilities in the rural areas and the perennial problem of budget constrainsts for cultural institutions. More and more individuals and families throughout the country are donating their personal archives and private collections to museums. Other would establish their own family museums with their memorabilia and accumulated books and records forming the nucleus of collections on exhibit.

Statement of the Problem
With the main goal of exploring the context of the archival principles and practices in the museum setting, this study has focused on the case of the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filippiniana Research Center (UPVM).

The study also attemps to discover a way to situate the role of the archives in the museum by constructing the administrative history of the UPVM using available Museum records.

Historical Background

This museum has a rich collection of the personal archives of its donors, Mr. Vargas, who had served in various key positions in the government starting from the Commonwealth era, continued into the World war II and up to the 1960's. in 1978, the collection was donated to the University of the Philippines and, thus, serves as a University Museum. The UPVM is a site where archives exists within the museum structure and presents an ideal set up for an inquiry that looks into the archival collection of the museum.

UPVM's archival collection may be grouped into two fonds or record groups; namely: 1) personal archives of jorge B. Vargas; and 2. institutional archives of the UPVM. these two fonds were appropriately arranged based on the archival principles of provenance and original order. Just like any other institution, the UPVM is also a producer or records as it performs its complex roles as both collector and preserver of material culture. The museum's archival records are its institutional memory.

Results and Discussions
The study illustrated how a particular record and its given recording and documentation processes and procedures perform this function of organizational memory and, at the same time, be an active agent of institutional activity. Foremost among its records is the catalog and documentation worksheet used to provide material description and account for the physical condition of the art collection. The study had emphasized that the UPVM catalog may be considered as an archival record by noting its great influence in musuem management and operations and its function of object representation. If museums are about representation through the display and assemblage of material culture, records that account for these objects must also acquire this level of cultural dimension. Records then become "representations" of objects of representations. Theis situation opens up a range of interesting inquiries for archival theory. As these museum perform their administrative and collection management functions, they naturally become records creators. Conversely, as collectors and repositories of archives and manuscripts, they become sites for records accumulation. Thus, museums assume the role of both records creator and record keeper while maintaining their unique institutional identity as distinct from archives. This phenomenon has a profound impact for archival practice and implies that a new paradigm must be developed to appropriately situate the place of the archives within the museum structure. Finally, a recommended standard was drawn to provide a code of practice with which the museum could refer for appropriate guidance and direction.

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