From Our Toolkit
Managing and caring for collections requires an investment of time, money and skill. To ensure that you are using your resources effectively it is best practice to periodically review your collections. You may wish to establish the significance of your collection before starting upon a collection review process.
Assessing the significance of your collection has been defined as
Significance refers to the values and meanings that items and collections have for people and communities. Significance helps unlock the potential of collections, creating opportunities for communities to access and enjoy collections, and to understand the history, cultures and environments.
There are a number of significance assessment frameworks available so you can choose which one is appropriate for your organisation:
- CyMAL – Museums Archives and Libraries Wales’ Why do we have it? A signficance process and template
- The Reviewing Significance 3.0 resources available on the Collections Trust website includes a framework with all the supporting templates for both assessing significance and collection review activities. Please note that this resource is suitable for museum and archive collections.
Collections review and rationalisation
A collections review can be a useful process to review what and how you are collecting. It can help you ensure that what you investing time and money in storing, preserving and displaying is relevant to your organisation.
Share Museums East’s Collection Rationalisation film provides a clear introduction to the subject.
There are a number of collection review resources available so you can choose which one is appropriate for your organisation:
- South East Museum Development’s A Guide to Collections Review and Rationalisation gives step-by-step advice on how to undertake a review and includes a range of case studies of how this activity was approached by others.
- University College London’s Collection review toolkit outlines a more detailed process which they used when reviewing their own collections
- See above for the Reviewing Significance 3.0 resources which are applicable for archives.
Collection Review activity is often linked with disposing of items from your collections. You can find out more about this in the Disposing of items from your collection topic in this toolkit.