Writing a Collection Development policy

From Our Toolkit

A Collection Development policy builds on a simple collecting policy and brings together all the information about your collections in one coherent document.

Museum approach

Arts Council England has produced a Collection Development policy template which can be adapted for your organisation. It covers the following areas:

  • This document’s relationship to other relevant policies & plans in your organisation
  • History of the collection
  • An overview of the current collection
  • Themes and priorities for future collecting
  • Themes and priorities for rationalisation and disposal
  • Legal and ethical framework for acquisition and disposal of items
  • Collecting policies of other museums
  • Archival holdings
  • Acquisition
  • Human remains
  • Biological and geological material
  • Archaeological material
  • Exceptions
  • Spoilation
  • The Repatriation and Restitution of objects and human remains
  • Disposal procedures

The template indicates which of the above sections are standard paragraphs and which can be amended or deleted as is appropriate for your organisation.

Archive approach

The National Archives’ Collection Development Tools and Guidance document supports organisations to do the following:

  • Understand and assess the need for collections development in their area of interest
  • Produce a Collections Development policy
  • Follow the process of a collections strategy to deliver the policy
  • Identify and make use of the support that is available

As a national sector support agency, The National Archives supports a framework of collection strategies to ensure that records are being kept efficiently and effectively in a way that is accessible for potential users.

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