The inventory of a Museum’s collections is a legal obligation that this one must continue until the end. The inventory is at the same time, an administrative act allowing to establish that the community is property owner of the collections, a management tool and the starting point of any operation for the valuation of the preserved heritage.
Carry out the inventory of collections in a Museum like in Grenoble is nevertheless a very long-term business. The inventory should count, indeed, once finished, about a million notices, for 3 to 5 millions species. These considerable numbers induce, with regards to inventory and verification, original issues compare to work methods used in general museums, to more restricted collections.
Collections have never been the subject of an exhaustive inventory reasoned attempt before the start of the 90’sof a I.T process, with the presence of permanent staff attached to those missions. Registers, old catalogs, archival sources being often too fragmentary so that it is possible to lean on it, it took most of the time to start from zero.
If the situation is very variable from one discipline to another, mainly based on their respective workforce (from 14.000 pieces for vertebrates to several hundreds of thousands for the botany or entomology), it should be noted that the retrospective inventory concerns today 15%of the collections taken as a whole, or 150.000 computerized inventory records.
A page from the register of ornithological collections (1881).