Collections Management

Good collections management is an integral part of running your museum. On this page you can find a list of introductory and helpful information about developing good collections management.

This page includes an overview of collections management policies, examples of those policies, examples of accession forms, and some information on the collection management software available to your institution.

The American Alliance of Museums provides this page on the ethics, standards, and best practices of Collections Stewardship in museums.

The Ohio Connecting to Collections site offers extensive resources on preservation and collections management. They also offer policy samples for collections, housekeeping, exhibitions, environmental standards, and digitization as models.

The Ohio Connecting to Collections site offers extensive resources on preservation and collections management. They also offer policy samples for collections, housekeeping, exhibitions, environmental standards, and digitization as models.

Collections Management Policies

The California State Parks system offers a downloadable guide for writing a Scope of Collections Statement.

The American Alliance of Museums offers a complete guide on Developing a Collections Management Policy.

From Connecting to Collections, a webinar on “Essential Elements of a Collections Management Policy.”

For examples of collections policies, the collections policy of Aurora Regional Fire Museum in Aurora, IL and the collections plan for the Hale-Byrnes House, operated by the Delaware Society for the Preservation of Antiquities, in Newark, DE.

The Greater Southwest Historical Museum also offers an excellent example of a collections management policy.

This source from the Australian Museums and Galleries Association of Victoria is a template of a collections policy, including explanations of the different elements of a policy, examples, and useful fill-in-the-blank sections. Although it was created in Australia, it is still a useful starting point for a small museum collection policy.

Accession Forms

The Ellsworth Historical Society in Maine has a deed of gift form, a cooperative agreement form, and donation information form.

Here are some templates of accession forms from the Illinois State Museum. Included are catalog, condition report, deed of gift, and donor questionnaire forms that cover a range of materials to assure that you receive legal, provenance, and condition information about an object as it enters your collection.

This cataloging manual for small museums by Museums Australia, has a terrific outline of considerations and procedures for cataloging collections.

Need to return those items you have on extended loan from another institution? These sample return letters, one citing limited space another citing increased insurance costs, from the Brandywine River Museum will help.

Software

PastPerfect is the leading software for museums. The PastPerfect Software website provides software user guides as well as free webinars to show you how to get the most out of the software. Training CDs will also be available through our Media & Collections Care Lending Library.

Filemaker Pro Advanced is another collections database and provides web seminars for additional training.

Collective Access is highly customizable and allows you to create categories that other collections management software do not include. You can download a demo or a copy of the software from their site as well as explore projects that are currently using the software.