Things to consider before you start

From Our Toolkit

When managing and caring for collections there are two key areas to consider which could shape and guide your work.

Codes of Ethics

Understanding the relevent code of ethics, even if you don’t consider yourself to be a museum or archive professional, provides a nationally recognised standard to aspire and where possible adhere to.

For museums

Museums Assocation Code of Ethics includes a section on the Stewardship of Collections which outlines that museums and those who work in and with them should:

  • maintain and develop collections for current and future generations
  • acquire, care for, exhibit and loan collections with transparency and competency in order to
  • generate knowledge and engage the public with collections
  • treat museum collections as cultural, scientific or historic assets, not financial assets

For archives

The Archives & Records Association Code of Ethics outlines the requirements for archivists and those working with archives. It covers:

  • Professional responsibilities and the public sector
  • Impartiality, fairness and equity
  • Accuracy, transparency and accountability
  • Right of stakeholders

Professional standards

Being aware of, and where possible adopting, the prescribed museum or archive professional procedures may require more investment of time but will ensure that your collection is cared for to the same level as many other organisations across the world.

For museums

Spectrum is the UK collection management standard that is also used around the world.

Spectrum gives tried-and-tested advice on the things most museums do when managing their collections. Some of these are daily activities, such as moving objects around and updating location records. Others are occasional, like updating insurance cover. Spectrum calls all these activities procedures…

For archives

ISAD(G) is the International Standard for Archival Description (General) and it was developed by the International Council on Archives.  The Archive-Skills Consultancy Ltd have produced a useful summary of the standard.

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