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In 1998, the Handreiking voor het schrijven van een collectieplan (Assistance with writing a collection plan) appeared, a joint publication of the Instituut Collectie Nederland (Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage) and the Stichting Landelijk Contact van Museumconsulenten (Foundation for National Contact between Museum Consultants). The preface of the 1998 brochure describes that general guidelines are not easy to word due to the diversity of museums and collections. This diversity has only increased in the last few years. In addition, it has become apparent that not only museums, but also churches, libraries and archives have a need for guidelines when drawing up a collection plan. This was a reason for the ICN and LCM to publish this revised version of the Assistance with writing a collection plan, which incorporates the latest developments and insights in the area of collection management.
This policy sets out the principles that will provide the governing bodies and staff of museums with a framework for the scrupulous and ethical acquisition and disposal of collections using clear procedures and decision-making processes common to UK museums in the Accreditation Scheme. Implementing the policy will enable museums to demonstrate the public benefit in their actions relating to the acquisition and disposal of collections. It provides a basis for open and transparent decision-making and an informed dialogue between governing bodies, donors, funding bodies and other stakeholders.
The Netherlands museum world has had guidelines for deaccessioning museum objects since 2000. These guidelines are widely accepted as the professional norm for selecting and deaccessioning objects from museum collections. This is the case not only for museums – which have accepted the guidelines as a practical extension of the ICOM Code of Professional Ethics – but also for many other owners of museum collections, such as the government. In recent years, numerous Netherlands museums have gained experience in selecting and deaccessioning objects from their collections. The guidelines have proven to be a useful frame of reference. In this relatively new field of museum management, almost every case produces new insights. This has led to many museum professionals demanding a review of the 2000 guidelines. The new guidelines were drawn up under the supervision of the Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN) and carefully fine-tuned with representatives from the museum world.
As part of the Effective Collections programme, the Museums Association has developed the Disposal Toolkit, published in February 2008, to provide more practical guidance for museums considering disposal. It provides detailed advice on the process of identifying appropriate candidate items for disposal, and ensuring that their removal from a museum collection is ethical.
Museums have a long tradition of sharing the cultural heritage in their custody with other museums and institutions. Lending objects to other museums is one of their most important tasks. Through the mobility of collections European citizens can become acquainted with their own and other cultures and are able to pass on this heritage to future generations. Collections Mobility 2.0, Lending for Europe 21st century is a project that aims to facilitate mobility of objects between museums of all European Member States. By offering practical training packages, a theoretical handbook and a website, the initiators hope that museum professionals will make even better use of their collections and explore the possibilities that exist in international collections mobility more often.
Report on practical ways to reduce costs of collection mobility
The OMC Working Group on Mobility of Collections (European Commission) has produced a report on practical ways to reduce the costs of lending and borrowing of cultural objects between member states of the European Union. Together with this report a toolkit is made available.
The Museums Association Ethics Committee has prepared these guidelines, which aim to help all who work for or govern museums in the UK to apply ethical principles when acquiring items for the permanent collection.They include basic principles, which are derived from the Museums Association’s Code of Ethics for Museums and also underpin the Museum Registration Scheme overseen by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).