Collections are at the core of a museum’s activities. Their ownership and subject define the museum as an institution.
Accreditation requires museums to have policies for the development, documentation and care of their collections; plans for clearing documentation backlogs and improving collections care and procedures to govern the documentation of collections.
Instead of individual documents, Accreditation 2011 encourages museums to gather together the policies, plans and procedures relating to the management – development, documentation, care, access and use – of your museum’s collections into a Collections Management Framework. It encourages consistency and integration in the whole range of activities central to your museum’s operation.
If there is a tendency in your museum for policy to be developed by individuals, or by individual departments working in isolation, committing to developing integrated policies will benefit your organisation. You are likely to achieve a greater understanding of common goals and a clearer sense of overall purpose.
Collections Management Framework -developed by the SW Fed with support from Renaissance SW, revised 2015
Accredited museums must be clear about who owns the collections they display, care for and make available for study. All collections on loan to or managed by the museum on behalf of another organisation must be the subject of an up to date agreement. Clearing the backlog of any unclear ownership must feature in the documentation backlog plan and the forward plan.
Accredited museums are required to have an up-to-date Collections Development Policy (formerly the Acquisitions and Disposals (A&D) Policy). Unlike the A&D policy, the new policy must state more clearly the criteria and methodology for rationalising the collections. The policy: –
Collections Development Policy – from July 2014 museums are required to use this model policy published by ACE if they are reviewing an existing policy or drawing up a new one from scratch. If their existing policy based on the 2010 template is still in date when they submit their accreditation return then they do not need to produce a new one.
Accredited museums must be guided by a documentation policy statement. The aim of a documentation policy is to ensure that the museum fulfils its responsibilities in relation to security, management and access of collections. The policy should aim to:
Accredited museums must have an approved policy statement to guide their approach to collections care and conservation.They should be based on a combination of preventative and remedial conservation, both designed to ensure long-term preservation. They should make reference to relevant sector standards and frameworks and set out how they access professional conservation advice and services.
• Does the policy fit with the statement of purpose and key aims of the museum?
• Does the policy reflect the requirements of a management agreement (where museum operations are outsourced)?
• Is the policy consistent with its occupancy of premises?
• Does the policy link effectively with the museum’s approach to environmental sustainability (see guidance – section one: 1.10)?
Accredited museums must have plans to improve their collections documentation and documentation systems if they have a backlog in the basic SPECTRUM procedures: object entry, object exit, object loans in and loans out, accessions register (including duplicate copy of accessions information) location & movement control, labelling & marking and object catalogue
Have you thought of drawing all you policies, plans and procedures realating to the development and management of collections into a Collections Management Framework?
Accredited museums must have plans to help deliver improvements to collections care and conservation in line with the collections care and conservation policy.
The plan should include plans to improve collections care and the day to day procedures that you use to achieve this. Plans for improvement need to be based on an audit of collections care practice and conditions in your displays and stores, informed by the data collected through your environmental monitoring programme, building maintenance needs and the advice you have received from a qualified conservator and other professional.
Once you have identified and assessed needs, draw up a plan to address them, prioritising those that pose the most risk to collections. Set out the objective, the actions to take to achieve them, the resources required and the timescale within which to achieve it. Use the template available at Step 8 in the Forward Planning toolkit . Include this plan in your Forward Plan.
You can use this template as a starting point or create your own from scratch. Make sure that the plan shows clearly what the museum does in its care for collections.
Accredited museums must have the primary SPECTRUM procedures in place in the form of a documentation procedural manual that is available for inspection on request.
The primary SPECTRUM procedures are:
Accredited museums must obtain expert security advice for stored and exhibited collections at least every five years, and earlier if needed. They must plan to act on the advice over time.