Documenting Your Collections
Info-Muse Network Documentation Guide

Les guides électroniques de la SMQ

Material (Physical Description)

Field to be used with an authority listField used for ethnology and history collectionsField used for fine and decorative arts collectionsField used for science and technology collectionsField used for archaeology collections (object data and site data)Société des musées québécois Info-Muse database field


  • This field contains the name(s) of the material(s) used in making the object.


  1. This field contains the list of materials used in making the object.
  2. For better search results in your database, avoid a large variety of terms; draw up an authority list and add keywords as necessary.1

Entry rules:

  1. Enter a generic term for the material, followed by a comma, a space and the specific term.

      Object Name cup
    Material metal, gold
  2. When you have the same generic term for two specific terms, repeat the generic term before each specific term. Separate the entries by a semicolon followed by a space.

      Object Nametextile fragment
    Material fibre, cotton; fibre, silk
  3. When the specific term is unknown, simply enter the generic term.

      Object Name statuette
  4. Enter the names of the materials used, from the most predominant to the least predominant. Multiple terms should be separated by a semicolon followed by a space.

    Record for a bark basket stitched with a leather strip

      Object Namebasket
    Material bark; skin, leather
  5. If you are unsure whether your information is correct, include a space and a question mark after the keyword.
  6. If the information is missing and no research has been conducted to identify the material, leave this field blank.
  7. If, even after conducting research, you are unable to identify the material, enter "unknown".

      Object Namecontainer ?
    Material unknown

  1. For a standardized list of terms, you can consult Ewing, Calum. Standards for the use of the Material (MA), Technique (MT) and related fields in the Humanities National Database of the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN). Ottawa: Canadian Heritage Information Network, 1992. © Société des musées du Québec