Museum Collections Management: A Handbook

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Facet Publishing, UK

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the author
  • Reviews

Collections management is a relatively new term in museums, and yet it is fundamental to what museums do and why they exist. To collect, display, care for, and provide access to museum objects was and remains the core purpose of our museums and galleries.

This book answers all of your questions on collections management, from what it is and why it is important, to how to classify objects, and how to draw up a contract for a shared acquisition. As such, this is the first publication of its kind to act as a comprehensive and practical guide to collections management, and will be of value to the museum professional, the curator of a private collection, and the museum studies student.

1. What is collections management?

  • Fundamentals 
  • Know what you have and where to find it
  • A brief history
  • An international perspective 
  • Summary 
  • References   

2. Legal requirements 

  • Fundamentals 
  • Artists' resale rights
  • Copyright 
  • Customs and excise 
  • CITES and cultural objects
  • Cultural goods and taxation in the UK
  • Immunity from seizure 
  • Summary 
  • References   

3. Ethical considerations

  • Fundamentals 
  • Deaccessioning and disposal 
  • Due diligence
  • Provenance 
  • Summary 
  • References   

4. Practical aspects 

  • Fundamentals of collection care 
  • Risk management 
  • Insurance and indemnity
  • Security
  • Emergency response 
  • Summary 
  • References   

5. Documentation 

  • Fundamentals 
  • Policy 
  • Procedures 
  • Information systems
  • Documentation plan 
  • Cataloguing
  • Marking and labelling 
  • Condition reports
  • Inventories 
  • Retrospective documentation
  • Summary 
  • References  

6. Movement 

  • Fundamentals 
  • Moving objects within a building 
  • Handling
  • Planning and risk assessment for moves
  • Procedures 
  • Equipment 
  • External moves
  • Planning and risk assessment
  • Packing for transport 
  • Transport 
  • Documentation
  • Summary 
  • References   

7. Storage 

  • Fundamentals 
  • Storage buildings
  • Storage systems
  • Environmental conditions
  • Inventory 
  • Hazardous materials
  • Integrated pest management (IPM)
  • Summary 
  • References   

8. Acquisitions 

  • Fundamentals 
  • Policy 
  • Legal and ethical requirements
  • Contract 
  • Procedures 
  • Collections impact 
  • Catalogue information
  • Provenance 
  • Shared or co-owned works 
  • Fractional gifts 
  • Multiple copies, editioned works and e-media 
  • Commissions 
  • Unclaimed loans and unwanted gifts 
  • Summary 
  • References   

9. Loans

  • Fundamentals 
  • Rights and responsibilities 
  • Loans policy
  • Due diligence for loans 
  • Loans procedure 
  • Facilities report
  • Conditions of loan 
  • Valuations
  • Loan agreement
  • Insurance and indemnity
  • Long-term loans
  • Condition inspection
  • Couriers
  • Packing and transport
  • Return 
  • Documentation for loans 
  • Summary 
  • References   

10. Exhibitions and displays

  • Fundamentals 
  • Due diligence policy for loans 
  • Installation 
  • In-house displays
  • Loans in
  • Exhibitions 
  • Insurance 
  • Travelling exhibitions
  • Exhibition costs
  • Summary 
  • References   

11. Access 

  • Fundamentals 
  • Options for providing access 
  • Policy 
  • Risk assessment 
  • Study rooms 
  • Access to stores 
  • Virtual access
  • Summary 
  • References  


Freda Matassa

Freda Matassa FRSA MA (Hons) DipAL DipEd is a well-known UK expert on collections management who advises, teaches and lectures internationally. Currently Director of Matassa Toffolo, a museum-standard art consultancy, former Head of Collections Management at Tate Galleries and co-founder of the European Registrars Conference, she is expert adviser on several European projects for museum standards and to the Minister of Culture on Immunity from Seizure. She was named one of the Top 50 Women to Watch in the arts and is the author of Museum Collections Management (Facet, 2011) and Organizing Exhibitions (Facet, 2014).

"An excellent up-to-date resource for collection managers and other people working and aspiring to work in the cultural heritage sector. It is a book that every museum should have in the office." --Managing Information
"This is an important and useful book. Our copy arrived yesterday and already I've found it useful!  It's careful, comprehensive and above all, well-evidenced." --Dr. Samuel J M M Alberti, Director of Museums and Archives, The Royal College of Surgeons of England 
"This book brings together all the fundamentals of collections management in an easy-to-read, accessible format (or guide?) - an essential reference book for all museums." --Diane Gwilt, Keeper of Collection Services, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales