Introduction: Accreditation has been around since 1988. It is no longer new and should be something that we are considering as part of our ongoing activities. With the revised scheme we now HAVE to make this part of our ongoing activities due to the increased importance of the Biennial Returns This presentation will show how the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has integrated the revised standard into our day to day activities.
Background and context: We had the standard 6 month period from invitation to submit to the time that we submitted the paperwork for Accreditation.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is quite a complex institution. We manage the Birthplace itself, which is our flagship site…
… and we also have an additional four sites, which include grounds, gardens, a farm and an archaeological dig. All of which have become a major tourist attraction.
We also have a very broad collection, not only a museum collection but also an archive, library and an image library. Any one [part of our collections would be a major credit to any organisation, but we manage all four parts together. They make up the largest publicly accessible collection about Shakespeare in the world. We are Designated.
The broad range of our activities are reflected in our staff structure (this shows the top layers of the staff structure). Note that this structure is dated February 2011 – part of the way through the Accreditation Application process.
This is the structure of the Collections team….
… which at the point of Accreditation Application had not been completed. There were a small number of positions to be filled. The reason for this new structure was that the Trust was moving from the situation where the Library, Museum and Archive parts of the collection operated separately in ‘silos’ into a single Collections Team.
Whilst the changes the organisation were going through were difficult, they should not be viewed as exceptional. All museums (especially at the current time) are going through some degree of change, whether it is restructure, development or HLF bid. These sorts of changes should not be used as a reason to delay an Accreditation submission. Accreditation can be used as a tool to help manage the change – and to audit what the museum is doing.
Whilst the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was going through a number of changes, a number of policies and plans were still current. Changing any of these policies and plans simply to meet the requirements of Accreditation would have simply been an artificial short term fix, plus they would have needed to be amended again a short time afterwards as the organisation settled into its new structures.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust developed a corporate stance on Accreditation (as shown in this slide)
In order to deliver against this stance the Trust needed some tools (see slide).
To get these tools the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust turned to Collections Trust. The first tool it used was PAS 197:2009 – Code of Practice for Cultural Collections Management (The PAS). Why? Firstly, it is a code of practice that provides a framework for the policy, practice and plans for the management of collections in a cultural organisation. We can assess our documents against this framework. Secondly, it is for CULTURAL collections management, so provides a framework for bringing museum, library and archive collections together.
We used the PAS to develop a structure for managing our policies and plans etc, and then created a set of files that reflected this structure. Note that it not only included collections policy but also Governance and Trust-wide Operational plans.
We then put all of our policies and plans etc into this structure. This enabled us to audit what we did have, what we needed to update, and what we did not currently have. For example, we found that we needed to improve our Acquisitions and Disposals Policy. Rather than creating a new policy from scratch we developed some supplemental policies.
Once we had identified the policy gaps we then needed to fill them. Rather than re-invent the wheel we again turned to Collections Link to find out what was readily available from other institutions that we could adapt. For example, we adapted other museums policies for Human Remains and developed an environmental policy.
The results were…(see slide)
The result of which was… A Better Museum Which, at its heart, is what Accreditation is all about.
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust presentation v2
Case Study: Accreditation Pilot.
Invited to participate in the pilot scheme: Autumn 2010. Submission date: April 2011.