Numbering Museum Objects: Making your mark

Professional development course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
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The V&A holds over 1.7 million objects, and every single one is assigned a number to identify it on the collections management system. But what of physically marking and labelling an object with its accession number? How do you ensure that your marking method is durable but reversible, and doesn’t damage the object? 

This hybrid course, taking place both online and in person at V&A South Kensington, will outline the guiding principles, best practice and the practical skills for physically numbering or labelling museum objects. You will discover how object marking has evolved at the V&A, learn which materials are recommended for numbering museum objects, and why each method of marking is dependent upon each object or group of objects, their condition and materials, whether stone, metals, plastic, textiles or other.

course photo
Portrait of Course Leader Neil Carleton

Course Leader
Neil Carleton

Neil is Senior Documentation Officer at the V&A. In his 30 years at the museum, Neil has worked across all Collection Departments on a wide variety of inventory, cataloguing, display, decant and storage projects. As the V&A's lead on object marking, he has numbered over 75,000 objects and parts, and delivers collections management training.

It was a privilege and an absolute pleasure to go behind the scenes of a fantastic museum! Previous Professional Development course attendee

Course overview

Using the V&A’s practical expertise, this course offers a rare opportunity to acquire the latest knowledge in sound collections management, and the chance to perfect your object marking skills at V&A South Kensington under the guidance of the Course Leader, Neil Carleton. 
In the online part of the course, Neil will outline the theory, best practice and key consideration in numbering and labelling museum objects with the appropriate techniques. 
In the practical workshop at V&A South Kensington, you will put your learning into practice and develop the confidence to carry this out on objects in your institution’s collections. Under Neil’s guidance, you will learn how to mark or label in a variety of techniques, try your hand at marking on all kinds of materials, and learn to determine the correct size and shape of letters and numbers, based upon the objects you are working on. You will also learn how to remove each marking method if any mistakes occur. 
By the end of the course, you will have the necessary resources, and knowledge of object-safe materials, marking methods and thinking processes to equip you to confidently and safely mark objects in your collections. 


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Professional development course: Numbering Museum Objects: Making your mark

20 February 2024 - 22 February 2024


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Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

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