The Paul Mellon Centre is a specialist archive repository for the research papers of art historians, museum directors and curators, dealers, art critics, collectors, and other individuals working in the field of art history. If you haven’t consulted archive material or used an archive catalogue before, a helpful guide explaining how to do this has been produced by Archives Hub and can be found online here.
The Paul Mellon Centre catalogues its archive collections according to the International Standard of Archival Description [ISAD(G)] for all archival cataloguing.
It uses Axiell Calm archival software which is compliant with the profession’s standards and (although somewhat dated in appearance) is currently the preferred choice of the UK archive sector.
Employing both of the above means that it is possible to export the descriptions into larger, aggregate archive catalogues – such as Archives Hub and Archives Portal Europe – where they will reach a far wider audience.
Navigating/reading the catalogue
- Many researchers prefer to navigate or ‘read’ archival catalogues as this gives them an overall understanding of a particular archive collection
- To do this, it is helpful to understand that archive catalogues are based on the ‘tree’ principle: with the creator (in this case Paul Oppé) at the root; his various interests/activities as the ‘branches’; files of material being the ‘twig’s & individual items the ‘leaves’
- The catalogue carries out Boolean type searches, so it is best to use one key term. It is possible to carry out more advanced searches using multiple terms and details of how to do this can be found here
- You can select a single Archive collection, in the Paul Mellon Centre’s Archive catalogue, by clicking on the Key Collections tab in the left-hand menu, & clicking View Record for your preferred Collection
- This will take you to the top of the ‘tree’ – the overall description of the creator & the entire archive. You can see an example of this in the screen shot below.
- If you click on the text in the Ref_No field, you will reveal the ‘root’ and ‘branches’ of the catalogue. You can see an example of this in the screen shot below.
- Clicking on any of the small + symbols on the left-hand side of the titles will open further ‘branches’, ‘twigs’ & ‘leaves’. You can see an example of this in the screen shot below.
Searching the catalogue
There are two search options available:
1. You can search across all the collections held at the Centre by using the Search box in the top right-hand corner.
2. You can search across a single Archive Collection, by selecting the Search the Catalogue option found in the left-hand menu. Enter the reference number of the Collection you are interested in, followed by an asterisk in the Ref_No field (this is usually a three letter code made up of the creators initials); and then whatever term you like into the Any Text box. You can see an example in the screen shot below.
- After running a search, the results will be displayed as per the screen shot below.
- Clicking on the Ref_No text, in the far left hand corner, will display the full record for each search ‘hit’. The search term used is highlighted in yellow, as shown in the screen shot below.
- To carry out further searches in the collection simply click on Search the Catalogue in the left-hand menu, or to search across the entire archive, use the Search box in the top right corner of the screen, as described above.