Managing and documenting any formal assessment of your collections that follows a stated methodology.

The scope of such reviews might range from a few items to the whole collection. They might be carried out in-house, or involve working across museum networks, sometimes with the input of your local stakeholders or subject specialists.

Reviews are often the first stage of rationalising collections, which can lead to the Deaccessioning and disposal of objects. However, there are many other reasons to review collections. These include: understanding the significance of your holdings; identifying opportunities to develop under-used collections; getting new insights into what your users find interesting about your objects; and planning future research, use and collections care.

There are published methodologies for several kinds of collections review, and you might want to base your own on one of these. Typically, you assess objects against a number of criteria (eg significance) and score each object against an agreed scale (eg locally significant, nationally significant, internationally significant; or 1, 2, 3). Whatever framework you use, this procedure helps you capture the results in a systematic way that links to the relevant object records.

As you go through your collection systematically, you might sometimes want to combine a review with other procedures such as Audit, Condition checking and technical assessment or Reproduction.

Collections review - the Spectrum standard

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You should have a policy on why and how you carry out collection reviews. This might form part of a wider collection development policy that takes an integrated approach to acquisition and disposal, particularly if the aim of your reviews if to get a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your collection. Either […]

Collections review - suggested procedure

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You should have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when a collections review takes place. This suggested procedure, and the workflow based on it, are useful starting points. However you do it, your own procedure should meet the minimum requirements of the Spectrum standard. To see the workflow as PDF, follow the […]