Collections Care and Maintenance

The establishment of standards for collections maintenance and care is tantamount to an effective policy. Without common standards, the collections entrusted to our institutions can be irrevocably harmed and of no use to our patrons and visitors. In this module, you will learn what things to consider as you create your standards. We also discuss how some objects need to be cared for, not only physically, but with cultural sensitivity

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Practical Exercise

Label Schmabble: Marking and Labeling your Collection. The purpose of this activity is to help you engage colleagues within your institution (or within your work group) to practice different methodologies for marking collection objects. This activity will start with a 10 minute presentation on marking and labeling objects (link below), followed by an opportunity to mark objects in small groups (materials list and table set-up below)

Discussion Questions
Besides establishing levels of appropriate maintenance and care for the objects in your collections, it is also important to state clearly WHO will be responsible for WHAT.

  • Do you assign responsibilities to volunteers? Why or why not?
  • Should training be required for those who are assigned collections responsibilities?
  • What are the pros and cons of dividing responsibilities, or having one person responsible for everything?

During the webinar, we discussed many aspects of collections care in a variety of collections. In regards to your collection discuss the following:

  • What guidelines do you have in place for object handling?
  • What concern would you prioritize? Preservation? Pest issues? Other? Why?
  • How does your institution handle culturally sensitive objects?
  • What documents do you have in place that may address collections care?

Utilizing the game spinner have each participant take a turn at the spinner.  Read the question or topic to the group and discuss among the group. Use examples from your policy or institution. 


Collections Care & Maintenance

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Online Resources
The National Archives (United Kingdom), Caring for Archives

National Park Service (NPS), Museum Handbook, Part 1: Museum Collections, Chapter 4: Museum Collections Environment

National Park Service (NPS), Museum Handbook, Part 1: Museum Collections, Chapter 5: Biological Infestations

National Park Service Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Resources for Museums

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