Collection management policy
A museum establishes a written collection management policy
for several reasons. The policy identifies the scope of its art collection,
and may establish guidelines for improving the collection. The policy also
may contain sections covering duties and responsibilities of a collections
committee, plus guidelines for accession, deaccession, documentation and
storage. A well-crafted policy helps a museum graciously decline gifts that
fall outside its scope of collection.
An online example of a collection management policy is
the abridged version of the complete Collection Management Policy for the
Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block. The Museum provided to TFAO the
complete policy which is reproduced below:
- COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT POLICY
- I. INTRODUCTION
- The Collections Management Policy (CMP) is a compilation
of written policies covering all aspects of collection activities including
acquisition, disposal, documentation, and care and use of the objects for
which the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block is permanently or temporarily
guardian. This document serves as a reference and best practices tool for
museum staff, members of the Board of Trustees, and the Fine Arts Committee.
- II. MISSION STATEMENT
- The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block connects
art to life by inspiring discovery, creativity, and cultural understanding
through meaningful, engaging experiences.
- To achieve its mission, the Tucson Museum of Art and
Historic Block preserves and interprets its collections of Art of the Americas,
Art of the American West, and Modern and Contemporary American Art; cares
for and interprets five significant El Presidio historic properties; and
produces related exhibitions, educational programs, and publications which
expand understanding and appreciation of these unique community resources.
- III. AUTHORITY
- The Tucson Museum of Art is a privately funded, not-for-profit
- IV. BOARD OF TRUSTEES
- While final legal responsibility for collections rests
with the Board of Trustees, the Board delegates some of this authority
to a duly appointed Fine Arts Committee (FAC) to approve acquisitions,
outgoing loans valued over $50,000, and recommend deaccessions to the Board
of Trustees for final approval.
- V. FINE ARTS COMMITTEE COMPOSITION
- 1. The President of the Board of Trustees shall appoint
annually the Chair of the Fine Arts Committee, who shall be a member of
the Tucson Museum of Art and its Board.
- 2. The Chair appoints individual members of the Fine
- 3. A member of the Fine Arts Committee must be a member
of the Tucson Museum of Art, and may be a community leader, art historian,
scholar, artist, collector, or other person with broad or specialized knowledge
or interest in art and culture.
- 4. The President of the Board of Trustees and the Executive
Director are voting ex-officio members of the Fine Arts Committee.
- 5. The curatorial and registration staff are non-voting
members of the Fine Arts Committee.
- 6. The Collections Manager/Registrar shall serve as the
secretary of the Fine Arts Committee, shall send notices to the members
of the Committee, prepare the agendas, and take the minutes for all meetings.
- VI. DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHAIR
- 1. Appoint the members of the Fine Arts Committee.
- 2. Declare a quorum of members as necessary.
- 3. Lead the meeting of the Fine Arts Committee.
- 4. Present objects approved for accession by the Fine
Arts Committee to the Board.
- 5. Present proposed objects for deaccession approved
by the Fine Arts Committee to the Board of Trustees for final approval.
- VII. DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE FINE ARTS
- 1. As an individual with decision-making authority affecting
the Museum and its collections, each member of the Fine Arts Committee
shall abide by the Code of Ethics Policy as adopted by the Board of Trustees,
effective April 26, 2003. (See Code of Ethics and Guide for Professional
- 2. The Fine Arts Committee shall hold regular quarterly
meetings, and special meetings as necessary.
- 3. The Fine Arts Committee shall discuss and vote upon
outgoing loans of items of value over $50,000, as well as potential acquisitions
to the collection-i.e. gifts, purchases, bequests-as proposed by the Curators
or Executive Director.
- 4. Decisions made by the Fine Arts Committee shall be
by simple majority vote of those present in a meeting with a quorum.
- 5. Under special circumstances as determined by the Chair,
decisions may be made outside of the regular quarterly meetings by a majority
vote; members may be polled via telephone, fax, or electronic message.
- 6. Members of the Fine Arts Committee shall encourage
the growth of the collection by assisting in the development and procurement
of gifts, bequests, and funds for acquisitions, conservation, and collections
- VIII. SCOPE OF COLLECTIONS
- The core of the Museum is its collection and the aesthetic
and educational information that it conveys. It is the responsibility of
the Museum to acquire objects that are consistent with the goals and purposes
of the Museum and, recognizing that the collection is an irreplaceable
and finite resource, to maintain those objects in perpetuity.
- ß American Art of the United States includes: 19th
to Early 20th Century American Art; Impressionist Art; Art of the American
Scene; Modern Art (1913 to 1970); Contemporary Art (1970 to present); Contemporary
Native American Art; Contemporary Craft; Art of the American West; Photography;
and Decorative Arts of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
- ß Art of the Americas includes: pre-Columbian Art
of Mexico, Central America, and South America; Art of the Hispanic Vice-regencies
and Colonies including Painting, Sculpture, Decorative, and Minor Arts;
Art of Latin American Nations (Republics) inclusive of the Caribbean from
1821 forward; Decorative and Minor Arts of the Mediterranean and Asia pertaining
to the Art of the Americas; Folk Art of the Americas; and Ethnographic
Art of the Southwest and Pacific Northwest (including Canada).
- ß Asian Art includes 1st Century to the 20th Century
fine and decorative arts from China, Japan Korea, Thailand, and India.
- ß European Art includes: 16th-20th Century
European Art; Modern Art; Contemporary Art; and European Decorative Arts.
- IX. PERMANENT COLLECTION
- Whenever considering an acquisition to the Permanent
Collection, the Museum shall strive to follow ethical, legal, and practical
guidelines in order to fulfill its mission and ensure the security and
integrity of the object. Prior to the presentation of any potential acquisition
before the Fine Arts Committee, the potential acquisition should meet the
- A. General
- 1. The object is unencumbered by donor- or vendor-imposed
restrictions, such as requirements for duration or placement of display,
method of disposal, or length of time the Museum must keep the object.
Objects with restrictions may be accepted for accession only by vote of
approval of the Board of Trustees.
- 2. The object is consistent with the goals of the Tucson
Museum of Art as spelled out in the Mission Statement of the Museum, and
falls within the Scope of Collections.
- 3. Staff knowledge and storage are sufficient to care
for the object properly.
- 4. The provenance of an object is documented to the satisfaction
of staff, the standards set forth in the UNESCO Cultural Property Act of
1970, and the AAM's Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation
of Objects during the Nazi Era of 1999 (amended 2001).
- 5. The ownership of the object is not in question.
- 6. If obtained at an archaeological site, the object
has been documented and its existence disclosed to the lawful owner of
the site, as well as to appropriate legal or governmental authorities in
its country of origin.
- 7. If a purchase, there exists no opportunity to obtain
the object or a comparable object by gift or bequest.
- 8. The Museum is considered to be the most appropriate
institution to acquire the object, over the interests of other collecting
- 9. The Museum intends, in good faith, to keep the object
in the Museum's Permanent Collection for the foreseeable future.
- 10. The Museum intends, in good faith, to use the object
in the foreseeable future, in accordance with its mission.
- 11. Due diligence has been exercised by curatorial staff
to authenticate the object, including contacting specialists, appraisers,
or connoisseurs in the field.
- 12. According to the best judgment of staff, the object
will not result in major expenses in the foreseeable future that the Museum
will be incapable of fulfilling (e.g., will need conservation or maintenance,
or will open a new area of collecting).
- 13. The object is not physically hazardous to staff or
to other collections objects.
- 14. If it falls outside the scope of collections, the
object is considered to be special enough to warrant a new area of collecting.
- 15. The object does not contain materials prohibited
by State, Federal or International Wildlife Regulations, for use or sale.
Exceptions for acquisition may be made based on the following guidelines
and others contained in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (amended
1996): The object has accompanying documentation, both from the country
of origin authorizing its exportation, and from the United States authorizing
its importation; the object is an antique (i.e., not less than 100 years
old); the object falls under a permit of exemption issued by the U.S. Secretary
of the Interior.
- B. Legal, Ethical, and Social Considerations
- The Museum recognizes that throughout the world, millions
of objects have been transferred illegally or forcibly from their rightful
owners or countries of origin. In an effort to avoid potential disputes
of ownership, and to enforce the spirit of international conventions, the
Museum adopts the following guidelines for provenance of objects both in
its collection and on loan. Primary guidance for the conduct of the Museum
regarding suspect objects will be the following federal and international
- Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing
the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property ("Cultural Property Act"), adopted by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 1970
- If the Museum comes into possession of an object that
can be demonstrated to have been exported or otherwise transferred in violation
of the principles of the Cultural Property Act, and the country of origin
seeks its return and demonstrates that it is part of the country's cultural
heritage, the Museum will, if legally free to do so, take responsible steps
to cooperate in the return of the object to the country of origin.
- 1. Although the bill was not signed into law until 1983
in the United States, the Museum will abide by the UNESCO draft date of
1970 as the date prior to which objects must have been imported to the
U.S. in order to be considered for acquisition or exhibition at the Museum.
- 2. The Museum will abide by the ongoing and updated bans
on importation of goods based on official requests made by other countries
to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee of the U.S. government.
- 3. The Museum will not acquire any object that has been
acquired in, or exported from, its country of origin-or any intermediate
country in which it may have been legally owned-in violation of that country's
- 4. The Museum will not acquire excavated art works where
there is reasonable cause to believe their recovery involved the recent
unscientific destruction or damage of monuments or archaeological sites,
or involved a failure to disclose the finds to the owner or occupier of
the land, or to the proper legal or governmental authorities.
- 5. The Museum will practice due diligence in determining
the provenance of relevant material presented to the Museum for acquisition
or exhibition, including:
- a. Requesting from the donor, lender, or vendor, all
documentation relating to the history of ownership of the material;
- b. Contacting the International Foundation for Art Research,
the Art Loss Register, and/or Interpol to learn if the material has been
- c. Considering the character of the individual or parties
- C. Provenance
- AAM's Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation
of Objects during the Nazi Era, 1999 (amended 2001)
- The Museum recognizes that thousands of objects have
been stolen, confiscated, looted, pillaged, or otherwise appropriated unlawfully
from the rightful owner during the Nazi Era (1933-1945). As an ethical
steward and trustee of the public, the Museum will be guided by the following
policy regarding these objects:
- 1. The Museum will identify all works in the collection
that underwent a change of ownership between 1932-1946, and those works
which may be reasonably thought to have been in Europe between those years
- 2. The Museum will make accessible to researchers and
the public, the documentation or other information regarding covered objects.
- 3. The Museum will give priority to continuing provenance
research as resources allow, including the pursuit of special funding to
undertake such research.
- 4. The Museum will practice due diligence in determining
the provenance of covered objects already in the collection, or presented
to the Museum for acquisition or exhibition, including:
- a. Requesting from the donor, lender, or vendor, all
documentation relating to the history of ownership of the material;
- b. Contacting websites, archives, auction houses, scholars,
art galleries and dealers, and other sources which maintain stolen artifact
databases or other records;
- c. Contacting the source of the covered objects when
credible evidence is found that the objects were unlawfully appropriated;
- d. Documenting all provenance research;
- e. Publishing lists of recent acquisitions on websites
such as that of the Museum, and the Nazi Era Provenance Internet Portal;
or otherwise making accessible these lists for further research and public
- 5. Should the Museum discover that a covered object has
incomplete or uncertain provenance, it may, in certain circumstances, choose
to proceed with the loan or acquisition, with the idea that exposure at
the Museum may reveal further information on the object. The Museum's intent
in this circumstance is the completion of the provenance, which may not
have been successful without the exposure and research capabilities of
- 6. Should the Museum discover that a covered object,
in the collection or on loan, has incomplete or uncertain provenance, it
shall make such information public and notify any potential claimants if
possible. If no claim is made, the Museum shall retain the object for further
research, education, and maintenance. The Museum shall act with transparency
in informing the public of the object's history, in the hopes that more
information will come forth as a result.
- 7. The Museum shall address all claims of ownership openly,
honestly, seriously, respectfully, thoroughly, and promptly, with dignity
toward all involved parties.
- 8. The Museum shall respond to all claims with a request
for evidence of rightful ownership by the claimant.
- 9. Should the Museum determine that a claimant has sufficient
evidence of ownership of an object which had been unlawfully appropriated,
the Museum shall seek a mutually agreeable and appropriate resolution with
the claimant, with the method of mediation preferable to litigation.
- 10. In all actions, the Museum shall consult legal counsel
in order to fulfill its legal role as custodian of the object and the ethical
role as custodian of the public trust.
- D. Repatriation
- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation
Act (NAGPRA), 1990
- Collection items subject to repatriation under NAGPRA
include: Native American human remains, associated and unassociated funerary
objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony, as defined
in the law ("covered objects").
- 1. The Museum shall, according to the regulations of
- a. Identify all covered objects in the Museum's collection;
- b. Provide access to the inventory of covered objects
to groups who are or are likely affiliated with these objects, upon request
at any time;
- c. Present the opportunity for covered objects to be
returned to affiliated groups.
- 2. The Museum shall respond to all requests for inventory
or claims on covered objects promptly and respectfully.
- 3. The Museum shall respond to all claims on covered
objects with a request for evidence of standing to claim.
- a. Standing may consist of lineal descent, Native American
or Native Hawaiian group affiliation.
- b. Evidence of standing may consist of geographic affiliation,
oral history, expert opinion, anthropological or archaeological data, or
- 4. The Museum shall not seek to purchase covered objects,
as they may be subject to repatriation.
- 5. The Museum shall not be precluded from acceptance
of covered objects if offered as gift or bequest. The Museum understands
that following the acceptance of covered objects, a complete and open report
of their presence in collections, and any related documentation, must be
given to groups who are or are likely affiliated with these objects.
- E. Appraisals and Authentication
- For reasons of insurance and risk management, the Museum
may use several measures of value for its collections objects: recent appraisals,
purchase price, and other methods used by the Museum for internal purposes.
The method that presents many ethical and legal issues is the appraisal.
The goal of this policy is to "ensure accurate arm's-length appraisals
obtained through a process which is fair and transparent." (Object
of Appraisal: Legal and Ethical Issues, DeAngelis & Hersh, Museum
News, AAM, Sept/Oct 2001)
- 1. No member of the Museum staff or board may provide
statements of monetary value of any items to be donated to the Museum.
The Collections Manager/Registrar or Curators may assign estimated values
for internal use, loan agreements, or for temporary insurance coverage,
but must state as such the purpose of the estimated value, and that the
estimated value must not be considered an appraisal.
- 2. The Museum shall not pay for appraisals on donated
objects. The Executive Director has the authority to waive this prohibition
in special circumstances, such as a donor with limited means yet a highly
valued object to be donated. In this case, the donor would independently
contract the appraiser and the invoice would be sent to the Museum.
- 3. No member of the Museum staff or Board of Trustees
may recommend one appraiser to a potential donor. If a donor requests a
list of appraisers, the list will include a statement that any referral
does not constitute endorsement. The Museum will encourage the donor to
use the same criteria the Museum uses to contract an appraiser (see subsection
- 4. Donors shall be encouraged to have an appraisal done
before making a donation. If the appraisal is not done before the date
of the gift, the Museum shall make the object available to the appraiser
of the donor's choosing.
- 5. If an appraisal is contracted by a donor for an object
donated to the Museum, the appraiser shall send the appraisal to the donor,
who shall then provide a copy to the Museum.
- 6. The Museum shall make every effort to contract a certified,
qualified appraiser to evaluate its collections when necessary.
- a. IRS regulations define a qualified appraiser to be:
- i. One who performs appraisals regularly and presents
himself as an appraiser;
- ii. One who recognizes that there is personal liability
for intentionally falsifying a valuation.
- b. IRS regulations prohibit the following individuals
from being a qualified appraiser:
- i. The donor of the object.
- ii. A member of the Museum staff or board.
- iii. A party to the transaction in which the donor acquired
- iv. A relation, spouse, or employee of any of the above.
- c. When contracting with an appraiser, the Museum shall
draft an agreement, or letter of commission, detailing the services to
be provided by the appraiser. Such a letter shall include:
- i. A deadline;
- ii. An explanation of fees, including a cap for fees
if desired by the Museum;
- iii. Provisions for personal examination of object and
- iv. A statement of purpose for the appraisal and value;
- v. Detailed descriptions, including photography if possible;
- vi. A signed statement that Uniform Standards of Professional
Appraisal Practice will be followed.
- 7. No member of the Museum staff or Board of Trustees
may provide authentication of any artwork. Authentication includes, but
is not limited to, a professional judgment on authorship, country of origin,
and date created, and implies legal responsibility or guarantee for the
accuracy of the information.
- 8. Members of the Museum staff and Board of Trustees
may at times provide identification of artwork, including, but not limited
to, opinions on authorship, country of origin, and date created, provided:
- a. The individual or party requesting the identification
sign an Indemnification Form, releasing the Museum from all legal responsibility
which may derive from the information given.
- b. The staff or Board member has expertise in the area
of art requiring identification.
- X. DEACCESSIONS
- Professional museum standards for the preservation of
artifacts require that objects added to museum collections must have permanency
within those collections. However, when thoughtfully and carefully performed,
deaccessioning assists in the realization of collections goals and the
- A. Deaccession Criteria
- Deaccession: the permanent removal of an object from
the Museum's Permanent Collection. The process of deaccessioning requires
careful deliberation and should never be taken lightly. The decision making
process in determining to deaccession should be rigorous, well researched,
and well documented.
- The Museum shall consider deaccessioning an object from
its Permanent Collection if:
- 1. The object does not fall within the scope of the collection.
- 2. The Museum does not have the staff, storage, or financial
resources to care for the object properly.
- 3. The object is a duplication of other objects in the
- 4. The object's condition has deteriorated beyond usefulness.
- 5. The object is recognized as a fake or forgery.
- 6. The object is of ceremonial importance to a Native
American group and its return is required in accordance with the Native
American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990.
- 7. The object has been proven to have been exported or
otherwise transferred in violation of the principles of the UNESCO Cultural
Property Act of 1970.
- 8. The object has been stolen, and an insurance claim
has been paid to the Museum for the object.
- 9. The object was erroneously accessioned into the collection
(e.g., repair or conservation supplies or tools, unrelated documentation,
exhibit props, etc.)
- B. Procedures
- An object for deaccession shall be thoroughly researched,
nominated by a Curator, and be accompanied by a Deaccession Recommendation
Form, to be considered by the Fine Arts Committee. A Deaccession and Disposal
Record will be attached to this paperwork.
- The decision to deaccession an object requires a majority
vote of the Fine Arts Committee. A vote against deaccessioning will halt
the process; a vote for deaccessioning will take the process to the next
level as a recommendation to the Board of Trustees
- C. Disposition
- A deaccessioned object may be sold or disposed of in
the manner determined by the Fine Arts Committee and Board of Trustees
to garner the greatest advantage to the Museum. An object may be:
- ß Traded for another object of comparable monetary,
artistic, or historic value;
- ß Transferred to another museum or nonprofit cultural
- ß Sold at auction in the relevant market to insure
that it is offered to the largest public audience;
- ß Discarded due to deterioration beyond usefulness.
- It is important for the Fine Arts Committee and the Board
of Trustees to consider the following questions when determining disposition:
- ß Should the object be passed to another museum
or public institution to insure the future welfare and public accessibility
of the object, or insure that the object is kept in the community if it
has local interest?
- ß Should the object be sold at public auction to
the highest bidder so that the Museum may maximize for itself the proceeds
of the sale, thus enhancing its Acquisitions Fund for the future?
- ß Should the object be offered back to the original
donor for purchase?
- Tucson Museum of Art employees, trustees, and their immediate
families and associates are restricted from acquiring any deaccessioned
object through trade, transfer, or sale.
- An object to be deaccessioned shall be appraised by a
neutral, qualified appraiser prior to disposition.
- Donors of objects sold through deaccession shall be acknowledged
in museum publications, the accession records, and exhibit labels of future
objects purchased for the collection through the proceeds of the sale.
- D. Application of Proceeds
- All proceeds from the sale of a deaccessioned object
shall be used for the benefit of the Permanent Collection, remain consistent
with the Museum's mission, and held in the Acquisitions Fund for future
purchases. Proceeds from deaccession must never be used for anything other
than acquisition or direct care of the collections.
- XI. STUDY COLLECTION (For objects accepted for purposes
other than for addition to Permanent Collection)
- Objects considered to be outside the collecting interests
of the Museum, or those that do not meet acquisitions criteria of the Permanent
Collection, may be accepted from time to time for study or educational
purposes. Prior to accepting any objects/materials for inclusion in the
Museum's Study Collection, the Fine Arts Committee shall determine, with
input from the Museum's curatorial staff, the Museum's expenses or resources
for the storage and maintenance of such objects/materials. Non-accessioned
objects shall be recorded by the Collections Manager/Registrar, utilizing
a dedicated numbering system, and shall be located/housed outside of the
main collections or Permanent Collection area.
- Items accepted for inclusion in the Museum's Study Collection
shall require that the donor be advised and acknowledges and consents in
writing that (1) such objects/materials are accepted by the Museum as non-accessioned
material for inclusion in the Museum's Study Collection and are not subject
to the Museum's Deaccession process; and (2) that although uncommon, any
objects/materials accepted for inclusion in the Museum's Study Collection
may be exchanged or sold by the Museum no sooner than thirty-six (36) months
after the object/materials are accepted by the Museum for the purpose of
advancing or for the direct care of the Museum's other collections through
the exchange or use of funds following the sale of such Study Collection
objects/materials for alternative objects that may enhance one or more
of the Museum's existing or desired collections. All proceeds from the
sale of a Study Collection object shall be used for the benefit of the
Permanent Collection, remain consistent with the Museum's mission, and
held in the Acquisitions Fund for future purchases. Proceeds from the sale
of Study Collection objects must never be used for anything other than
acquisition or direct care of the Museum's collections.
- XII. CARE OF COLLECTIONS
- Recognizing that the development and preservation of
the Permanent Collection are cardinal responsibilities of the Museum, the
following guidelines are established to provide the proper care, management,
and security of objects held by the Museum in the public trust.
- A. Inventory
- The purposes of inventory are to update storage location,
identify conservation and storage needs, aid in collections development,
and provide accurate records in case of disaster or theft, and identify
missing or lost objects, or those objects documented incompletely or not
- 1. The registration staff shall generally conduct a comprehensive
inventory of the collection every seven years. In the intervening years,
inventory shall proceed section-by-section, rotating storage locations
or collecting areas, or as incorporated into other collections projects.
Inventory shall include the permanent collection, objects on display, and
objects on loan in the rotation.
- 2. In the process of inventory, the following details
are compared with and entered into physical files and computer database
- a. Date of inventory
- b. Location of object
- c. Condition of object, identifying conservation needs
- d. Condition and adequacy of storage mounts
- 3. As to any object found in collections without an identification
number, the registration and curatorial staff shall attempt to determine
the origin and status of the object through written and computerized documentation.
The Museum shall not dispose of any object found in collections without
possessing clear title to the object.
- a. If the documentation proves the Museum to have clear
title to the object, an identification number shall be applied immediately.
- b. If there is written documentation that the object
has been in the Museum's possession for seven years or longer, but the
Museum does not have clear title to the object, the Museum may pursue acquisition
of title in accordance with ARS 44-353.
- c. If there is no written documentation on the object
whatsoever, the record of the inventory shall serve as such documentation,
in order that the statute of limitations may begin for the Museum to pursue
acquisition of title in accordance with ARS 44-353.
- d. If the object is found to be on loan, the Museum shall
contact the lender in order to return the object or to renew the loan agreement.
If the lender cannot be located, the Museum shall pursue acquisition of
title in accordance with ARS-352.
- B. Security