As you get started you may wish to consult the descriptive information about objects that you are working on that is provided by the Fleming Museum. Sometimes this data will be quite minimal but it may still be of use to you.
About keywords: Don't use too many keywords at one time - try to use a word that describes the object and one or two that the describe the place and or time of creation
About truncation: You can add the asterisk symbol (*) to the end of many word rots in order to find variations. For example Mexic* will find Mexico or Mexican.
Be precise or not: When you are searching most databases you can indicate where in the information about an article your keywords will show up. For example sometimes you may want to search for your words in a title or subject (conferring a high degree of importance) and other times you may want to search all places a word might occur which sometimes includes the full article (great for finding a needle in a haystack).