The initial impetus for the development of the ACNS lay in the experience of re-opening the Newfoundland Museum over twenty years ago. To plug the gaps in artifact documentation, museum staff were obliged to refer frequently to primary documents, principally newspapers. Often the same sources were canvassed several times for different reasons. The prospect of a single reading of the richest source of information, newspaper advertisements, for information on objects had great allure.
In 1979, the National Inventory Programme (NIP) of the National Museums of Canada was approached by the Newfoundland Museum to participate in such an endeavour using the technology which was being developed for the documentation of major museum collections. Three years later the Canadian Museum of Civilization sponsored a similar project in conjunction with the New Brunswick Museum and the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) successor to NIP, to develop a body of data for that province. Data from the Newfoundland project, which had become dormant, was incorporated with the research from New Brunswick and made available online. In subsequent years projects were undertaken as well in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. In all cases the national agencies worked in collaboration with the provincial museums. More recently three universities, St. Mary’s in Halifax, Nova Scotia, University of New Brunswick in Saint John, New Brunswick, and Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, have joined the consortium. The database at present includes approximately 56,000 records.
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