Reviewing Significance 3.0

Assessing the significance and potential of museum collections is increasingly recognised as an integral element of strategic collections management and development – and essential when prioritising resource allocation and seeking external funding or support.

Reviewing Significance 3.0 provides analytical tools to aid museums, archives and libraries of all sizes through two processes:

Collections Review

  • understanding current levels of usage
  • assessing current standards of care and management
  • reviewing care and management priorities in the light of material’s use value and significance.

Significance Assessment

  • assessing collections’ meaning and value for key groups of current and potential users.

The two processes are complementary and designed to be used either together or independently.

The following downloads are available from this page:
  • Reviewing Significance 3.0 introduction (pdf)
  • Usage grid (MS Word doc)
  • Collections management grid  (MS Word doc)
  • Collections Review Survey Form (MS Word docx)
  • Collections Review Notes Form (MS Word doc)
  • Collections Review Datasheet (MS Office 2010 Excel spreadsheet)
  • Significance assessment grid  (MS Word doc)
  • Statement of significance template (MS Word doc)


The original Reviewing Significance model for collections assessment was commissioned in 2009-2010 for Renaissance East Midlands (the then regional cultural agency for museums). It was developed by consultant Caroline Reed and a team of curators from University College London’s Museums and Collections. The model was published online in 2010 and Caroline Reed published an updated version Reviewing Significance 2.0 in 2012.  

This 2018 edition, Reviewing Significance 3.0, has been written by Caroline Reed. It extends the scope of the methodology for application to archive and library as well as museum collections and draws extensively on work undertaken in the archive at London’s Southbank Centre in 2013 and across the museum, archive and library collections of The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCSE) between 2014 -2016.

In the UK, a Collections Review procedure has been newly included in version 5.0 of the Collections Trust’s Spectrum collection management standard, published September 2017. 


Date created: 2018

Author: Caroline Reed

Publisher: Collections Trust