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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.|