Location and movement control – suggested procedure

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You should have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when moving objects. This suggested procedure is useful starting point. It is given as text and also as a workflow diagram. However you do it, your own procedure should meet the minimum requirements of the Spectrum standard.

Identifying and describing locations

Give each display and storage location a unique name or number.

Create a detailed record describing each location you use. It is useful to have annotated store and gallery plans. Assign a unique name or number to each display and storage location:

Location information

Record key information about each location.

Record where necessary information about each location, including the following:

Location information

Maintain your location system.

Maintain your location records, making changes to them when needed (eg new storage and display location, and the closure of stores, exhibitions and displays).

If applicable, record environmental data (eg temperature and relative humidity) for specific locations:

Location information

Recording locations of objects

Record the location of all objects.

Record the location of all objects. For each include:

Object identification information

Object location information

There should usually be only one place in your documentation system to record an object’s location, as this ensures consistency and accuracy.

Moving objects

Object moves usually happen during the course of following another Spectrum procedure.

Obtain and record authorisation for all moves.

Following your policy, obtain and record appropriate authorisation for all moves, internal or external:

Movement information

In smaller organisations, the person moving an object may be the same as the person authorising the move.

Check the objects’ condition to make sure they are fit to be moved.

Go to, and return from, Condition checking and technical assessment.

Check whether there are any specific risks or recommendations associated with handling or moving the objects.

Check the relevant catalogue records for notes of any hazards posed by the objects, and for any handling recommendations (eg wear gloves) or packing recommendations (eg bespoke foam support), or other specific needs:

  • Display recommendations.
  • Environmental recommendations.
  • Handling recommendations.
  • Packing recommendations.
  • Security recommendations.
  • Special requirements.
  • Storage recommendations.

See Note 2 for additional guidance on risks.

Find out whether there are any access problems anywhere along the route and assess any handling issues or other risks.

You should establish whether there are any access issues at the collection or delivery destination (eg steps, tight corners or restricted access at certain times). Also assess any handling issues (eg will specialist handlers or equipment be needed?) Agree the route with all the parties involved.

Arrange any conservation or packing needed to make the objects safe for the move.

Even moving objects around your museum may require conservation work and bespoke packing. Objects being transported will need suitable protection from environmental changes or vibration during the trip. Take specialist advice from a conservator if needed.

Go to, and return from, Collections care and conservation.

If no transport involved, move objects (then go to ‘Update object location records’).

Prepare the object for the move in the light of the condition check and any associated risks or recommendations.

If transport is involved, establish and agree the most appropriate means.

Influences on the decision include:

  • Your policies.
  • The size and weight of the packed objects.
  • Cost.
  • Legal restrictions (eg items that may not be transported by air).
  • Availability of transport routes.
  • Insurance or lenders’ requirements.
  • Whether a courier is required. (‘Courier’ in this context means a trained person, often from a lending museum, who accompanies objects throughout their journey and oversees the handover.)

It may sometimes be appropriate, and cost effective, to transport robust, low-value items by recorded-delivery post, a general courier company, or public transport. Within the country, your museum vehicles (or those of staff or volunteers) may be an option for these. For higher-value objects, and certainly if transporting objects across international borders, you may need specialist museum shipping agents. (See Note 3 for guidance on using shipping agents.)

If the objects do not belong to you, you should always get the agreement of the owner.

Once confirmed, circulate a briefing note on the arrangements to the people who will be involved (eg curator, conservator, security and technical handling staff).

File the authorisations and briefing note and record the Document location in the relevant object records so you and others can find them in future.

Arrange insurance or indemnity for objects being transported.

Arrange insurance or indemnity as appropriate, according to your policy.

Go to, and return from, Insurance and indemnity.

Prepare appropriate documentation to accompany objects being transported.

Prepare appropriate documentation to accompany objects being transported, such as receipts, customs and insurance documents, and unpacking instructions.

File copies and note the Document location in the relevant object records so you and others can find them in future.

Transport objects, and then confirm their safe arrival.

Once the objects have arrived at their destination get a delivery receipt and, if appropriate, a condition report to confirm that they were not damaged in transit. If you have sent a museum courier, they should inspect the objects on arrival.

Go to, and return from, Condition checking and technical assessment.

File copies and note the Document location in the relevant object records so you and others can find them in future.

Update movement and object location records.

Record the following information as soon as an object has been moved, the:

Object identification information

Movement information

If transport was used during the move then record:

  • Person accompanying the objects during transport – Organisation courier (use a standard form of name).
  • Person or organisation carrying out the transport:
  • Any other information about shipping an object, including details of the transit requirements – Shipping note.

If you wish to know where an object was in the past, for each old object location, record:

Object location information

The above information may be recorded on a separate movement recording form. If so, the information should be transferred as soon as possible to the master location record.

Return to the linked procedure that prompted the move.

Guidance notes

Note 1: Location and movement records

Location records

These can include:

  • Entry records (such as a Collections Trust object entry form). It is good practice to record the first location of an object when it enters the museum (eg Collections Manager’s office, Enquiries cupboard).
  • Catalogue record. This is usually contained within a digital collections management system, and is usually the record of an object’s more permanent location. For a permanent location it is usual to follow your museum’s conventions for recording locations (eg Room X, shelf Y, box Z).
  • Location lists. These may be useful when, for example, an exhibition is being created, and occasionally organisations will attach a list of the objects to the outside of the box, or on a shelf. Location lists can be excellent temporary measures. However for permanent locations it is simpler and more efficient to only record permanent locations centrally in one place, which is usually the catalogue record.

Object movement tickets

Pre-printed object movement tickets are available from the Collections Trust. These consist of a triplicate carbon ticket, which is written on in pen when an object is moved, describing who has moved the object, why, where the object was moved from, and where it has gone. When using these tickets:

  • The top copy (white) is left in place of the object.
  • The middle copy (yellow) is placed in a temporary locations file in object number order, from where it is used to update the most permanent record of locations, usually the catalogue record.
  • The bottom copy (card) is tied to the object.

When the object is returned to its permanent location all parts of the ticket should be thrown away.

Other methods of movement

Movement may also be managed by systems that are semi-automatic such as barcodes or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), taking into account the care and safety of the objects. These will produce there own digital records.

Note 2: Risk assessment

As part of its overall approach to health and safety, your museum should identify the potential hazards of objects, and define and describe the safe practices required for storage and handling. This will include protective equipment to be worn when moving objects.

The risk assessments will take into account relevant legislation that may apply to specific types of objects (eg concerning firearms or hazardous substances). The risk assessment will include:

  • Identification of the hazard.
  • Who is at risk and how (eg the person moving an object).
  • An evaluation of the severity and likelihood of a risk (eg trivial, moderate, intolerable).

As well as the report resulting from the risk assessment of a collection, a note should be placed in the object’s record with regard to:

  • Recommendations for its handling.
  • Recommendations for its storage.
  • Details of any potential hazards to people or other objects.

Documentation systems and procedures should encourage the recording of all such information, including where relevant the size and weight of the complete object and of its component parts. This documentation should always be referred to before any part of an object is moved.

Note 3: Using shipping agent

Refer to your policy regarding contracting external suppliers and follow the required procurement steps. Supply the agent with the following information:

  • Details of the objects to be moved, their destination, the reason for the move and desired dates.
  • Any known areas of difficulty, such as access, handling restrictions, weight loading.
  • Specify whether any insurance or indemnity covers the transport and any special conditions.
  • Any restrictions under CITES or hazardous materials regulations.
  • Flag up the possibility of a site visit for agent to assess access, staffing, vehicle and equipment requirements, and method statement.

If the objects are travelling across international borders, the agent should be responsible for clearing customs, obtaining any licences needed (eg CITES), and complying with relevant laws (eg aircraft security regulations).

Receive confirmation of transport from the agent, along with the following information:

  • Detailed itinerary with route and timings.
  • Transport method and route for approval, including any stopovers on long trips.
  • Any overseas agents involved.
  • Courier travel arrangements.
  • Airport loading/unloading and security procedures at either end of the journey.
  • The vehicle registration.
  • The names of drivers and a mobile phone number to keep in contact with them.
  • Agreed costs and terms and conditions.

Date created: 2017

Author: Collections Trust

Publisher: Collections Trust