Location and movement control – the Spectrum standard

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You should have a policy on moving objects within your museum and on recording the location of your objects whether in the museum or elsewhere. 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:

  • How will you keep object location records up to date at all times?
  • How will you audit this?
  • Are there times when objects may be moved temporarily without updating their location records?
  • How you will keep location and movement records appropriately secure and confidential?
  • How you will ensure that objects are not moved into unsuitable locations?
  • Who can view and edit location and movement records?
  • Who can request and approve the movement of objects around your museum?
  • Who can move objects around your museum?
  • Are there restrictions about when objects may be moved (eg not when visitors are around)?
  • When will you undertake your own transport and when will you use external specialists?
  • When should a courier from your museum accompany objects in transit?
  • What standards of care will you apply to objects in transit, and are there any times when these might be varied?
  • Who is responsible for transport costs in different scenarios (eg with loans the borrower normally pays)?

You should also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when moving 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
You have a system of recording all locations where objects are displayed or stored within your museum. You can pinpoint the specific location of an object quickly and easily.

You can note locations that are not suitable for certain kinds of objects.

You have the records needed to monitor whether agreed environmental standards are being met. You can take action if the relative humidity in a store is too high.

You do not display a watercolour painting in too much light.

You record every movement of an object, including the date moved, and change the location record in line with your policy. You know at all times where every object is.

You do not waste time hunting for objects that have been moved but not updated in your location records.

You can access location information by object number and location name. You know, at all times, what is in each of your exhibition spaces and stores, and where every object is.
You record who has moved objects (and who authorised those moves if required). Named individuals are accountable for moving objects.

Objects are not moved without authorisation.

You have as full a history of objects’ previous locations as practical. You can compile a list of all objects in a location at a particular time, which might later be needed for security or conservation reasons.
You assess any risks of moving objects (both to the objects themselves and to people) and, where needed, have a written plan to mitigate them. You do not cause an accident through lack of planning.

You can show you were not negligent should anything go wrong.

You have appropriate insurance or indemnity cover in place before transporting objects, particularly in the case of borrowed objects. You do not risk financial liability should anything go wrong.


Date created: 2017

Author: Collections Trust

Publisher: Collections Trust