According to Webster’s Dictionary, a document is a piece of written, printed, or electronic matter that provides information or evidence or that serves as an official record. Documenting is the process of writing or recording something. Documentation is material that provides official information or evidence or that serves as a record. The word comes from Latin “documentum” for lesson or proof and from “docere” to teach.
Jenny Schrider (the designer of Michael's Museum at Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier) and I talked about the fact that the documentation, in museum practices, actually becomes part of the museum. The record of Michael’s Museum as it currently exists in the guest room of our home, as it is packed and moved into storage, and as it is unpacked and installed in its new home ... becomes an important part of the museum itself. It is now one additional collection of the museum.
So we documented the collection. But it also looks like collecting is a way of documenting. A way of documenting a life. The accumulation of “things” that give proof of your life, day to day or special occasion, is a way of documenting your existence.