What is Spectrum?

Spectrum gives tried-and-tested advice on the things most museums do when managing their collections. Some of these are daily activities, such as moving objects around and updating location records. Others are occasional, like updating insurance cover. Spectrum calls all these activities procedures and there are 21 of them.

Spectrum is for museums of any size and any collection type, and may also be useful to similar institutions with museum-like collections.

Spectrum originated in the UK and is used by all Accredited museums there, but in recent years the standard has been adopted by a number of other countries and translated into several languages.

Is Spectrum software?

Spectrum is not software (and can be used with paper-based systems) but many of our commercial Spectrum Partners have developed collection management systems that support some or all of the Spectrum procedures. We have validated some of these as Spectrum Compliant.

Is there a printed version?

Yes! The printed version of Spectrum 5.0 containing all 21 procedures, the Appendix containing all of the units of information, and the standalone Spectrum Primary Procedures publication will all be available shortly to purchase via the Collections Trust shop.

What is Spectrum Compliance? 

Spectrum Compliance, or being validated as Spectrum Compliant, refers to the process that Spectrum Partners undertake in order to develop and demonstrate how their software systems incorporate Spectrum to help museums put the standard into practice.

Spectrum Partners are companies that use Spectrum commercially in their products and services with a licence to do so.

Spectrum Compliance consists of two elements:

1. Unit of information Compliance:

Partners must show how their systems ‘represent’ the Units of information defined in Spectrum. This includes how many times the Unit can occur and the support given for terminologies in some cases.

2. Access Compliance:

Partners must give access to the text of Spectrum through their system. It must be clear that the text is Spectrum and not the system’s own help and documentation.

When a Partner is ready to have their system tested for Compliance it is demonstrated to Collections Trust and, if necessary, further development can then take place until they are verified as Spectrum Compliant.

You can find out which systems are Compliant by looking at the Collections software page. If a company claims to be a Partner or Compliant but is not listed on our site then please contact us to be sure.

It is important to note that not all of the Spectrum Partners' systems are Compliant. Some are 'lite' versions of larger systems that have been created for smaller collections to use and do not intend to cover the full range of units of information a Compliant system must have. All Partners however have a great understanding of Spectrum and have been instrumental in its development.

Spectrum Compliance will change following the launch of Spectrum 5.0. Partners are expected to implement the changes. Any currently Compliant system will remain so until March 2019 when Collections Trust will re-test it.

Where can I go for further advice?

Previous editions of Spectrum have included references to further sources of advice, other relevant standards, codes of practice and legislation. To keep this information more up to date than is possible in print, links to these resources are now maintained on the Collections Trust website.