By accessing this resource, you agree to the Spectrum licence.
Use this procedure to keep a record of where all the objects in your care can be found, and to update the location each time an object is moved. As well as recording when objects move in and out of your museum (during other Spectrum procedures) you should also keep track of them within the museum too.
For this you will need to have an agreed system of naming all the buildings and rooms within them where your objects might be (eg stores, galleries and conservation labs). This procedure also records environmental conditions within these spaces, so you can be sure they are suitable for the objects kept in them.
Within each space you should be able to record the exact location of each object with appropriate precision (eg specific boxes, shelves, drawers and display cases).
Following this procedure promptly keeps your location records up to date, which is the key to being accountable for your collections. Ideally, your system will also record where objects have been located in the past. This can be useful, for example, if you notice pest damage or some other change in an object’s condition and you need to investigate possible causes.
In many cases moving museum objects can be highly complex, especially when transporting them across international borders, and you may need specialist advice.
This is a Spectrum primary procedure. UK museums must meet the standard set out below to fulfil the requirements of the Museum Accreditation Scheme.
The Spectrum Standard
You must have a policy on moving objects within your museum and on recording the location of your objects whether in the museum or elsewhere. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, you should include answers to these questions:
- How will you keep object location records up to date at all times?
- How will you audit this?
- Are there times when objects may be moved temporarily without updating their location records?
- How you will keep location and movement records appropriately secure and confidential?
- How you will ensure that objects are not moved into unsuitable locations?
- Who can view and edit location and movement records?
- Who can request and approve the movement of objects around your museum?
- Who can move objects around your museum?
- Are there restrictions about when objects may be moved? (eg not when visitors are around)
- When will you undertake your own transport and when use external specialists?
- When should a courier from your museum accompany objects in transit?
- What standards of care will you apply to objects in transit, and are there any times when these might be varied?
- Who is responsible for transport costs in different scenarios? (eg with loans the borrower normally pays)
You must also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when moving objects. Spectrum’s suggested procedure is a useful starting point, and is available as a workflow diagram or as a text file you can edit. However you do it, your own procedure must meet the following minimum requirements:
|Minimum requirement||Why this is important||See (cross-references to be added in final version)|
|You have a system of recording all locations where objects are displayed or stored within your museum.||You can pinpoint the specific location of an object quickly and easily.
You can note locations that are not suitable for certain kinds of objects.
|You have the records needed to monitor whether agreed environmental standards are being met.||You can take action if the relative humidity in a store is too high.
You do not display a watercolour painting in too much light.
|You have a record of the location where an object is normally displayed or stored.||You know that every object has a suitable ‘home’ location.|
|You record every movement of an object from its normal home and update the location record in line with your policy.||You know at all times where every object is.
You do not waste time hunting for objects that have been moved but not updated in your location records.
|You can access location information by object number and location name.||You know, at all times, what is in each of your exhibition spaces and stores, and where every object is.|
|You record who has moved objects (and who authorised those moves if required).||Named individuals are accountable for moving objects.
Objects are not moved without authorisation.
|You have as full a history of objects’ previous locations as practical.||You can compile a list of all objects in a location at a particular time, which might later be needed for security or conservation reasons.|
|You assess any risks of moving objects (both to the objects themselves and to people) and, where needed, have a written plan to mitigate them.||You do not cause an accident through lack of planning.
You can show you were not negligent should anything go wrong.
|You have appropriate insurance or indemnity cover in place before transporting objects, particularly in the case of borrowed objects.||You do not risk financial liability should anything go wrong.|