Exhibition Support: Access to objects across collections

Like most museums, we have an exhibitions department that often needs to borrow objects from our different collections for their purposes. There’s interest in using Specify for managing these different objects from our entire museum, especially where they’re stored. The easy part is creating loans for each object within each collection to register that’s in the possession of the Exhibitions department. However, it would be nice for the Exhibitions department to have their own overview of the different objects they’re handling at any given moment. We were considering creating a separate collection in Specify for the Exhibitions department, but the problem here is that the objects in other collections (or rather: disciplines) will then be invisible to them.

Does anyone have similar experiences and requirements and/or knows of a workaround or permanent solution to this issue? Should this be a new feature in Specify?

The only work-around I can think of that is currently possible, is to have the exhibitions folks use the specify web portals (if you have them set up) to be able to search information from the different collections on the items they have. It’s not quite the solution you’re looking for but an option anyway.

Thanks for the tip! We’ve decided to create a separate collection just for Exhibitions and for those items of interest, we export these in csv format and import it into that collection using Workbench (or do it manually).

The problem with that is, however, that we’re using the same catalog numbers across all collections, meaning that this would clash with the numbers being repeated in that collection. There are of course several workarounds conceivable, such as turning off auto-numbering for the exhibits collection (if possible), or only use workbench for import and make sure that catalog numbers are not auto-generated. Alternately, we could create an isolated database just for Exhibitions.

Still, it’s all a bit messy.