Take Control of Your Collections


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Take Control of Your Collections

  1. 1. Take Control of Your Collection Leo E. Landis Museum Curator, State Historical Museum of Iowa leo.landis@Iowa.gov
  2. 2. Taking Control of Your Collection Iowa Museum Association July 12, 2013 Developing a Collection Management Policy http://aam-us.org/docs/continuum/developing-a-cmp-final.pdf   Samples of Collections Policies City of Lansing, MI http://www.lansing.ks.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1655 McClean County (IL) Historical Society http://www.mchistory.org/pdfs/collection_policy.pdf Nebrasksa State Historical Society http://www.nebraskahistory.org/museum/collect/collections_policy.pdf   Writing a Scope of Collections Statement—State of California http://www.parks.ca.gov /pages/22491/files/guidelines_for_writing_scope_of_collections_statement_state_parks_ahm _march_2009.pdf   Deaccession Activity—AAM http://www.aam-us.org/docs/continuum/deaccessioning-activity.pdf?sfvrsn=2   Best Reference Malaro, Marie. A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections, Third Edition, 2012.
  3. 3. AAM Code of Ethics Collections The distinctive character of museum ethics derives from the ownership, care and use of objects, specimens, and living collections representing the world's natural and cultural common wealth. This stewardship of collections entails the highest public trust and carries with it the presumption of rightful ownership, permanence, care, documentation, accessibility and responsible disposal. Thus, the museum ensures that: •collections in its custody support its mission and public trust responsibilities •collections in its custody are lawfully held, protected, secure, unencumbered, cared for and preserved •collections in its custody are accounted for and documented
  4. 4. AAM Code of Ethics Collections—II •access to the collections and related information is permitted and regulated •acquisition, disposal, and loan activities are conducted in a manner that respects the protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources and discourages illicit trade in such materials •acquisition, disposal, and loan activities conform to its mission and public trust responsibilities •disposal of collections through sale, trade or research activities is solely for the advancement of the museum's mission. Proceeds from the sale of nonliving collections are to be used consistent with the established standards of the museum's discipline, but in no event shall they be used for anything other than acquisition or direct care of collections.
  5. 5. AAM Code of Ethics Collections—III •the unique and special nature of human remains and funerary and sacred objects is recognized as the basis of all decisions concerning such collections •collections-related activities promote the public good rather than individual financial gain •competing claims of ownership that may be asserted in connection with objects in its custody should be handled openly, seriously, responsively and with respect for the dignity of all parties involved.
  6. 6. Take Control of Your Collection According to one museum planning firm, “...the direct and indirect costs of collecting amount to nearly 70 per cent of museum operating costs, and so the strategy for future collections development is a key element in the financial analysis.” (Lord) •Objects that do not fulfill your mission  •Inventories and Objects for which there are incomplete records •Deaccessioning objects from the museum’s collection? 
  7. 7. Fulfill Your Mission with Your Collection •Collections Policy •Scope of Collections •Collecting Themes
  9. 9. Collections Policy Development Policy development can be time-consuming, but approaching the issues from a variety of perspectives can be beneficial. The process is most effective when there is full staff involvement at every stage: initial draft, review, revision and recommendation to the governing authority for approval. Here are some steps in the policy development process: •Assemble the writing team. (You may be most of these people) Select a team that has a manageable number of participants yet represents a variety of perspectives within the institution, including administration, collections, conservation, governance, public programs, research and security. Include the staff who implement the procedures. •Develop the policy. Use the mission statement and scope of the collections statement to develop broad, institution-wide collections management policies. Then develop specific policies to address particular institutional issues.
  10. 10. Collections Policy Development Review standards Review the policies to ensure that they are based on current legal, ethical and professional standards and adhere to the museum’s code of ethics. •Get feedback Ask other staff members or volunteers to comment on successive drafts of the policies. Once you have received feedback, revise the policy as necessary. •Get governance endorsement Following staff review and revision, present the policies to the museum’s governing authority for approval. Be prepared to explain and defend each policy as well as to incorporate the governing authority’s suggestions.
  11. 11. Collections Policy Development •Develop procedures Once the policies have been approved by the governing authority, prepare a set of procedures for implementing each policy. •Implement The completed collections management policy and the corresponding procedures are presented, implemented and carried out by staff. Relevant staff should have been included in developing the policies and procedures but there may still be a need to talk about how to carry out their responsibilities. •Review and revise periodically These policies and procedures will evolve as the museum grows and thrives. Procedures might need revision more often than policies http://aam-us.org/docs/continuum/developing-a-cmp-final.pdf
  12. 12. Importance of Scope of Collections •The Scope of Collections Statement is a valuable tool for a museum. It is a guide for evaluating new acquisitions, in budgeting, prioritizing resources, and overall planning and management of your collections. Defining your scope of collections can be especially useful in justifying donation refusals. It can help you decide which museum objects might be appropriate for hands-on use, and which might be appropriate candidates for deaccession
  13. 13. Creating a Scope of Collections Statement What are the main interpretive themes or topics represented at your institution? •Place—What are the geographical boundaries and important events of your organization’s locale or region? •People—Does your organization highlight certain cultural groups, or an organization or business? •Periods—What time period/s does the collection focus? www.parks.ca.gov/pages/22491/files/guidelines_for_writing_scope_of_collections_statement_state_parks_ahm_m arch_2009.pdf
  14. 14. Collecting Themes •Work with colleagues or volunteers •Work with constituents/members and others in the community. Consider how to crowd source ideas. •Relate to your community
  15. 15. Collecting Themes •Natural Life Collections •Home and Family Life Collections •Working Life Collections •Cultural Life Collections •Archaeological Collections •The Harborough Collection Comprises approximately of 11,000 items of local history material focusing on the town of Market Harborough and its surrounding area of influence. The collection complements the Market Harborough Historical Society's collections of local history items and antiquities which is also housed within the museum. Museums of Leicestershire www.leics.gov.uk/index/leisure_tourism/museums/museumcollections/museumcollections_themes.htm
  16. 16. Collecting Themes Can be topical and should intersect with Scope of Collections and Interpretive Themes •The mechanization of farm work •The relationship between consumers and technology •The changing role of women’s work •The consolidation of schools and the effect on the community
  17. 17. Collections Files •Accession Files and Object Files Deed of Gift Research and conservation/restoration
  18. 18. The Importance of Inventories •Objects for which there are incomplete records •Collections Management Software
  19. 19. Inventory •Use MS Excel, MS Access or PastPerfect •Use volunteers •Be trusting •Be consistent •Be persistent •Salisbury House Example
  20. 20. Basics for Object Records •Object ID or catalog number (unique identifying number connected to a source) •Object name (What it is) •Location (Where it is) •Description (What it looks like in two-four sentences) •Date (How old it is) •Dimensions (size) •Photograph
  21. 21. Collections Tiering •Every object is not equally important National, Regional and Local Significance •Rarity and Replaceability—Associative and Representative artifacts •Education, Ranking and Research Collections •Preservation Policy
  22. 22. Deaccessioning Basic Questions •What is the historical reason you hold this material? •Are there political considerations that are a barrier to deaccessioning? •If there is material that should be deaccessioned, what are the costs of keeping it (in space, staff time, pest control risk, etc.)? What are the barriers to deaccessioning and disposing of this material? Are there any modifications to be made to the collecting plan or collections policy to tighten up deaccessioning, or expedite it?
  23. 23. Deaccessioning •Have a complete inventory of similar types of objects •Know what you have, and be thorough in documentation. Take photographs •Be open, forthright and promote as widely as possible •Be deliberate not reckless •Proceeds should be used for new acquisitions or care of existing collections
  24. 24. DeaccessioningNebraska State Historical Society In all instances of potential deaccessioning, the historical significance of an object shall be considered of primary importance and will override any of the other criteria. Material from the Society's collections to be considered for deaccessioning must meet at least one of the following criteria: •1. The material is outside the scope of, or is irrelevant to the mission of the Nebraska State Historical Society and its acquisition policies. •2. The material lacks physical integrity (it is incomplete, broken, or in poor and unsalvageable condition) or it has deteriorated to the degree that it cannot be used for exhibit or research purposes. •3. The historical evidence that led the Society to accept an object has been proven false. •4. The material has been unaccounted for or stolen and remains lost for at least five years. •5. The material is duplicate in that the Society's collections contain other examples of the same type of material that are sufficient or better-suited to the needs of the Society. •6. The Nebraska State Historical Society is unable to preserve the material properly. •7. The material constitutes a physical hazard or health risk to staff, the public, or other collections. •8. There exists a more appropriate repository for the material. •9. It is discovered that the material has an unethical or illegal provenance. •10. The material must be removed from the collection to comply with national and/or state legislation. •11. The material will be destroyed for the purpose of scientific study.
  25. 25. Deaccessioning •Henry Ford Model Collections Committee and Sample Agenda •Public auction with promotion is best for sale, possibly transfer to another cultural agency for free or reduced rate. •Forbid staff and board from participating
  26. 26. Taking Control Sources for Funding •MAP and CAP •HRDP for Inventory and Software •NEH for Collections and Interpretation •Silos & Smokestacks in NE Iowa •Community Foundations and Casinos •Quester Groups
  27. 27. THANK YOU