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Use this procedure when placing a financial valuation on objects, whether your own or borrowed. This is normally for insurance or indemnity purposes (see Insurance and indemnity), but might also be done before acquiring objects by purchase.
Apart from these collection management reasons, it is normally considered unethical to put a commercial value on collections, particularly in the context of financially-motivated disposals. The Museums Association Code of Ethics for Museums gives guidance on this issue.
It is also unwise to give valuations of objects left as enquiries. The terms on the back of the Collections Trust Object entry form say that ‘museum staff are not authorised to give valuations’, and also ‘no valuation indicated verbally or written on this form at the time of deposit will be admitted by the museum.’
The Spectrum standard
You must have a policy on valuation. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, you should include answers to these questions:
- What ethical principles will you apply to object valuation?
- When will you put valuations on objects?
- Who is authorised to seek valuations?
- Who is authorised to provide valuations?
- Who has access to valuation information and how will you keep it secure?
- How, and how often, you will update valuation information?
You must also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when carrying out valuations. 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)|
|Valuation information is available as needed for collection management, and is only used in line with current ethical practice.||You can insure some or all of your objects appropriately.
You do not use collections as security on a financial loan.
|You have agreed and consistent methods for valuation.||You have confidence in the valuations that you obtain.
Valuations do not depend on the ‘whim’ of individuals.
|Valuation information is treated as confidential, and only available to authorised people.||Valuations are only available on a need-to-know basis.
You do not increase the security risk to high-value objects.
|Valuations are kept up to date.||Incorrect valuations are not used when renewing insurance, leading to inadequate cover.|