Acquisition procedure.

The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block provided to TFAO its acquisition procedure, incorporated into its collection management policy. The Museum's acquisition reproduced below:


Acquisition: Acquisition is the process of acquiring an object for the Tucson Museum of Art and is the point at which transfer of title to the Museum is made. Objects usually are acquired through donation, purchase, transfer from another institution, exchange, or bequest. Acquisition does not imply accessioning, but is a necessary prerequisite for accessioning.
1. All potential gifts and purchases are routed through the curatorial staff.
2. The Curatorial proposal is completed and presented to the Director and the Registrar. Clarifying the following:
a. Significance of object.
b. Provenance. (See Provenance)
c. Relevance of object to the current scope of collections (research, education, and exhibit).
d. Number of like objects in the collection.
e. Conservation needs of the object.
f. Housing needs of the objects.
g. Funding for the conservation and care of the object.
h. Legal, ethical, and social considerations of object.
3. Objects found unsuitable for the collection will not be further pursued.
4. Donor is notified that although the Museum is interested in the object, its acceptance depends upon the formal approval of the Collections Committee at their next scheduled meeting.
5. All purchases must be presented to the Collections Committee for approval. Vender must be notified that although the Museum is interested in the object, its acceptance depends upon the formal approval of the Collections Committee at their next scheduled meeting.
6. The Museum staff is not allowed to give appraisals, either written or verbal.
a. Donors requiring appraisals for income tax purposes must obtain these at their own expense from appraisers of their choice prior to donation.
b. If asked, staff members may supply a list of possible appraisers, but to avoid a conflict of interest, they should not make single recommendations.
7. Registrar makes arrangements to bring the object(s) to the Museum.
a. The seller is responsible for the incoming shipping costs for purchase considerations.
b. The museum will be responsible for shipping costs for gift considerations.
c. All shipping arrangements will conform to the usual high standards required by the Museum's fine arts insurance policy.
i. Fine arts shuttle services with air ride, two drivers and climate control vehicles are the preferred mode of transport.
ii. Priority next morning delivery airfreight will be considered if item can withstand the rigors of travel and is properly crated.
iii. Staff transport requires two people. Transported items cannot be left unattended in vehicles.
d. A Temporary Custody form is signed. Donor provides the museum with valuation(s) for the object(s) while in the care of the museum.
8. Registrar begins acquisition file, assigns temporary number to the object, and completes a condition reports and notes location.
a. If a gift, intent to give is established through the signed deed of gift. Registrar sends two originals to the donor for his signature.
b. As copyrights often do not transfer with ownership, the registrar will send a nonexclusive use license agreement to the artist for their signature.
c. If a purchase, the warranty of title is sent to the vendor when possible. If not possible, the receipt for the work is copied and placed in the file.
d. If a deed of gift form is not signed within 30 days of notice, the Registrar will notify the donor that the Museum can no longer be responsible for the donor's property and must return the material.
e. All gifts to the museum must be received at least 10 days in advance of the next scheduled FAC meeting as long as the deed of gift is signed prior to the meeting.
f. The receipt of the signed deed of gift is the official date of the acquisition transaction, and is so noted on all donation related documentation.
9. The Registrar prepares the agenda for the Collections Committee.
10. The curatorial staff presents recommendations for acceptance or rejection of acquisitions at a meeting of the FAC.
11. If the Committee approves the acquisition, the Chair presents their action to the Board of Trustees at the Board's next meeting.
a. a. The date of the FAC meeting is the official date of the accession, and is so noted on all related documentation.
12. Rejected objects are returned to donors and vendors. The Curator who supported or presented the acquisition writes the formal letter of refusal. Museum is responsible for the shipping for returned purchase considerations.
13. Accepted gifts are acknowledged with a letter of appreciation from the Director and a countersigned deed of gift.
14. All objects bequeathed to the Museum are subject to the Acquisition and Accessioning Procedures as defined in this document. The Museum is not legally bound to acquire any items that do not fit the scope and mission of the Museum as defined in the Mission Statement. In every case, the Museum will observe appropriate confidentiality with regard to accepted testamentary distribution of objects, and will attempt to abide by donor request except where those requests are in conflict with Museum policy, or state, national, or international laws.
15. Following the last meeting of the Collections Committee for any calendar year, and between that meeting and the end of the year, (December 31), the Director may accept unrestricted gifts that meet established criteria to the Museum on behalf of the Committee. All gifts must be out of the hands of the donor by December 31.
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 initiatives:
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 which 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 laws.
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 stolen;
c. Considering the character of the individual or parties involved.
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 its 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 created between 1932-1946 that underwent a change of ownership within that time frame, and those works, which may be reasonably thought to have been in Europe between those years ("covered objects").
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, o
r 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 in publications such as the Museum's Annual Report or quarterly newsletter, or otherwise making accessible these lists for further research and public review.
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 the Museum.
6. Should the Museum discover that a covered object, in the collection or on loan, has incomplete or uncertain provenance, it will make such
information public and notify any potential claimants if possible. If no claim is made, the Museum should retain the object for further research, education, and maintenance. The Museum will 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 will address all claims of ownership openly, honestly, seriously, respectfully, thoroughly, and promptly, with dignity toward all involved parties.
8. The Museum will respond to all claims with a request for evidence of rightful ownership by the claimant.
9. Should the Museum determine that a claimant have sufficient evidence of ownership of an object which had been unlawfully appropriated, the Museum will seek a mutually agreeable and appropriate resolution with the claimant, with the method of mediation preferable to litigation.
10. In all actions, the Museum will 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.
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 will, according to the regulations of NAGPRA:
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 will respond to all requests for inventory or claims on covered objects promptly and respectfully.
3. The Museum will 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 other data.
4. The Museum will not seek to purchase covered objects, as they may be subject to repatriation.
5. The Museum will 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.
140 North Main Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85701
Accessioning: Accessioning is the procedure that officially incorporates objects into the permanent collections of the Tucson Museum of Art. It is the transfer of clear title of the object or the registration of held-in-trust objects. Upon accessioning (acceptance of in- perpetuity responsibility), the Museum assumes the obligation for the proper management of objects. Accessioning provides an inventory of objects owned and held-in-trust by the Museum, and is the function of the Office of the Registrar.
1. Complete records of the accessioned holdings of the Museum are maintained in the Registrar's office.
2. Once the FAC and the Board of Trustees approve an object, it is accessioned by the Registrar. Accession numbers document Museum ownership and are an inventory control device for the Registrar.
3. The accession system utilized by the Museum is numerical and includes the calendar year of acceptance followed by a number indicating the order
of acceptance. The calendar year is written in full, and the number of order of acceptance is separated by a period from the year. Each object (if the accession consists of a single object), or collection of objects is assigned the same accession number with an individual identification number.
4. Numbering of the object conforms to the latest approved archival methods, taking the medium into consideration.
5. The Accession file should contain a complete record of all correspondence and transactions involving the acquisitions includes: name and address of the donor, seller, trading/exchanging institution; import and export papers on objects from non-U.S. countries; any gift restrictions; copyright considerations; artist's rights considerations; provenance; dates of object; images; the initial condition report. Subsequent treatment of an object, that alters its condition, should be reported to the Registrar.
6. When an accession contains more than one item but the items are all related, a copy of their computer generated catalog sheet should be placed in the accession record if each item does not contain a sufficient amount of information to warrant a separate file. If and when further curatorial information is acquired then a subsequent file can be made following the accession folder with the object id number.
7. A donor file is created to hold all the donor correspondence with reference to the accession.
8. Objects accepted for educational use are acquired and accessioned by the Museum with their status identified as education or study collection. Deed of gift or transaction papers of trade/exchange must carry a notation that the object is accepted for educational purposes, which may be of a consumptive nature. These numbers are identified with an S before the accession number.
9. All information is entered into the Museum's computerized software system
10. Catalog Cards are Printed
11. Each year all the Accession Records are printed and bound into a documentary book.
140 North Main Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85701
Whenever considering an acquisition to the 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 acquisition before the Collections Committee, the potential acquisition must fulfill the following requirements:
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 and Statement of Purpose 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 institutions.
9. The Museum intends, in good faith, to keep the object in the Museum's 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.

Editor's note: TFAO wishes to express appreciation to Susan Dolan of the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block for making available the above text on November 11, 2010.

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