Toys and models pose a challenge for many cataloguers.  It is obvious that miniature representations of objects do not have the same function as (and therefore should not be classified together with) the objects they depict.  For example, a model ship does not have the same function as a ship, and therefore does not belong in the “Water Transportation Equipment” classification.  But where do such objects belong?

“Micro Machines Comparacion 02”, Jorge Barrios, Wikimedia Commons.

In general, these types of objects are intended as toys, models, or works of art.  But there are several methods used by museums to handle their naming and classification:

1. Use multiple terms.  For example:

  • A model ship would be designated as both “Ship” and “Model”.
  • This is not ideal, because a model ship is not really a ship, but will be found in a search for ships.

2.  Create compound terms.  For example:

  • A model ship would be “Ship, Model”, organized as narrower terms under the term “Model” under “Other Documents” Sub-Classification in Category 8: Communication Artifacts
  • A toy cookstove would be “Cookstove, Toy”, organized under “Toys”Classificaiton in Category 9: Recreational Artifacts
  • This is potentially probematic, because thousands of new terms may need to be added under “Toys” or “Other Documents”, and these will need a hierarchical organization of their own

3. Enter “Toy” or “Model” in the Object Name field, and the term for the object represented (e.g. Ship or Cookstove) in a separate subject field.

  • This is the best solution.
  • Think of  toys and models as 3-dimensional representations of objects (such as ships or cookstoves), in the same way that paintings are 2-dimensional representations of these objects.  Just as you would describe the subject matter of a painting in a separate subject field, so you would with the “subject” of a toy or model.
  • Note that in order to control terminology within your “Subject” field, you may need to supplement Nomenclature 3.0 with an additional subject classification system (e.g., Library of Congress Subject Headings or the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials).

If you have questions about naming and classifying toys and models, please contact us!