South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

Guidance on the rationalisation of museum archaeology collections published

The Society for Museum Archaeology, in collaboration with Historic England, has published Guidance for the Rationalisation of Museum Archaeology Collections.


The pressures that museums with archaeological collections are facing in terms of diminishing storage space, staff reductions and loss of expertise, have been demonstrated in recent studies. Rationalisation (i.e. a selection strategy, with the purpose of de-selecting parts of the collection) is being increasingly suggested as one way to help mitigate the problem.

The Guidance for the Rationalisation of Museum Archaeology Collections puts forward practical guidance where little has been available previously. The guidance marks the final stage of a collaborative project funded by Historic England and delivered in partnership with SMA and five institutions in England responsible for the collection and care of archaeological archives. The project demonstrated that rationalisation is not a cost-effective way to increase storage capacity and instead suggests other space-saving solutions.


Stroud District Museum Service/Museum in the Park (Gloucestershire) were among organisations chosen to undertake scoping studies funded by Historic England.


The guidance can be downloaded by clicking here.