The National Museum of Natural History and Science of Lisbon (MUHNAC) and the research project Photo Impulse, of which that museum is a partner, have been collaborating to contribute to the history and theory of photography and scientific film, through the study of images produced in various geographic and anthropological expeditions carried out in African and Asian countries, between 1883 and 1975, and which at that time were Portuguese colonies. One of the areas that has been developed is the study and conservation of photographic equipment from the late 19th century and early 20th century used in these expeditions and found in the collections of the Institute for Tropical Scientific Research. The need to develop a methodology, with controlled and standardized language, that allows to identify, describe and characterize the cameras under study has become evident during the course of this work.
An international survey conducted in 2020, served to identify a gap in the knowledge on this subject, widened by the lack of adequate and controlled terminology specific to this type of equipment. Most respondents recognized the importance of working on standardizing the terminology used to describe these objects.
In order to help solve this problem, a description worksheet is being proposed, adapted to the technical specificities of these materials. The proposal will be discussed in a webinar, taking place on March 2, 2021 between the team and Portuguese specialists. A second session with specialists from museums and international archives will take place in the near future. The worksheet is intended to be a result of the project and its collaboration with MUNHAC, responding to a need in the museological community.