Object exit (Spectrum 5.0 consultation draft)

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Use this procedure to record when objects leave your museum for whatever reason. By ‘museum’ we include any off-site stores that are under your control. This can be as simple as an enquirer collecting an object they left for identification, in which case you might just need a further signature on the relevant object entry form to confirm safe handover. In more complex situations you will use Object exit as part of other procedures; in fact, any time objects leave your buildings. This potentially includes objects you are disposing of and objects stolen from you.

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 covering the exit of objects from your buildings. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, you should include answers to these questions:

  • In what circumstances might objects leave the museum?
  • Who can authorise objects leaving the museum in each of these circumstances?
  • What levels of condition checking are needed for each scenario?
  • What signatures are required to prove that objects have left your care and someone else has taken responsibility for them?
  • How will you make sure that relevant location and movement records are updated?

You must also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when an object leaves your museum. 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 can account for all objects that have left your museum for whatever reason. The inventory of objects in your care is up-to-date and accurate.
All objects leave with appropriate authorisation. Objects do not leave without the agreement of those who are responsible for their care.
You get appropriate signatures to prove that you have transferred objects into someone else’s care. You have proof that borrowed objects have been returned to their owners.
You keep up-to-date location and movement records for objects that belong to you even when they are away from the museum. You can account for all your objects at all times.

Objects do not become ‘lost’ when they leave your premises.


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  1. General Comments Applicable to all procedures: The inclusion of references to policies is beneficial but many of the questions that should be covered are more procedural than policy and would sit better within an organisation’s individual procedures than at the higher policy level. It isn’t clear how these questions sit with PAS 197 and Accreditation and could be difficult to answer in a general collections management policy without this running into many pages. The use of simpler terms and clearer language again is to be welcomed but there is a concern about the use of ‘you’ throughout this document. Without defining this term it can easily be read as an individual and therefore places the emphasis on a single person within an organisation to take responsibility for all these activities. This is a change from Spectrum 4.0 where the emphasis was at an organisational level and allowed the document to be used for advocacy to Trustees and Senior Management for the importance of these activities and how they affect those at an organisational level. Without clarity that the responsibility sits at an organisational level through the definition of ‘you’ this has the potential to de-value the nature of these activities and reduce support from senior management.
    It would also be beneficial to include references to other sources of guidance and legislation in the supporting notes where applicable and available although this will vary from country to country.

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Date created: 2017

Author: Collections Trust

Publisher: Collections Trust