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You should have a policy on the care of your collections and the conservation of objects. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, in deciding your policy you will most likely need to consider these questions:
- Who is responsible for setting and ensuring the standards of collections care you will maintain (involving external specialists if needed)?
- What are those standards for the different categories of objects in your collection?
- How you will monitor that these standards are being maintained?
- When might you consider conservation treatment for objects?
- Who will be involved in agreeing the scope of any proposed conservation work (especially on objects that do not belong to your museum)?
- Who can authorise conservation work?
- Who can carry out conservation work, and what are your criteria for selecting external specialists where needed?
- How should conservation work be documented, and what records should external contractors provide?
You should also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when managing and carrying out conservation of objects. Spectrum’s suggested procedure is a useful starting point, but however you do it, your own procedure should meet the following minimum requirements:
|Minimum requirement||Why this is important|
|Appropriate authorisation is given for any decision to change an object’s standard of care or carry out any conservation treatment.||No conservation work happens without the knowledge of those responsible for the objects.|
|You record the details of all collections care measures and conservation treatment (including dates and who performed the work) – and can access these via relevant object numbers.||You have a full conservation history of your objects, and can find this information easily when you need it.
If a problem later arises, you can check other objects that might also be affected.
|You update objects’ catalogue records with any new information gained as a result of conservation.||New insights about how objects were made are not just kept in conservation files that might not be generally accessible.|
|You schedule, where necessary, any further conservation treatment, call-back condition checks or periodic care activities.||You can plan your conservation activity and ensure that objects are available when needed.|