Policy 4-94: Museum Collection Management Policy

I. Preface

As owner of its museum collections, Centenary College of Louisiana is vested with ultimate responsibility for their safety and maintenance. It is the policy of the college that collections shall be managed according to the highest museological standards and consistent with the ethical principles prescribed by the American Association of Museums (MUSEUM ETHICS, 1978).

II. Purpose

In operating its libraries, archives, and its museum, Centenary College collects, preserves, exhibits, and makes available for study materials of artistic and educational significance and provides related educational services for the purpose of increasing knowledge and enriching the cultural life of the campus and the host community.

III. Management and Care of Collections

A. A Collections Committee shall be appointed by the Provost and consist of Director of the Meadows Museum, the Curator of Collections, Director of Magale Library, Chair of the Art Department, and other appropriate members designated by the Provost.

B. A Curator of Collections shall be appointed by the Provost. Under delegated authority from the Provost and with the advice of the Collections Committee, the curator shall exercise oversight and supervision of the museum collections. The curator shall be operationally responsible for the management and care of all collection objects owned by, on loan, and in the temporary custody of the college. Care of collections includes the documentation, security, physical protection, conservation, storage, access, inventory, and records system in accordance with generally accepted museum practices. The curator shall advise the Provost on procedures necessary to insure proper management of the collection.

C. Under direction of the curator, all appropriate staff personnel shall be made aware of their basic and continuing responsibility to preserve and protect collection objects on exhibition or in storage. The curator shall prepare annual collection plans in consultation with other staff members for review by the Provost. The curator, with assistance from the Collections Committee, shall develop a collection management procedures manual which shall be updated as required.

IV. Acquisitions

A. Collection items, whether works of art, books, manuscripts, musical recordings and documents, artifacts, or specimens from the natural world, are acquired by gift, bequest, purchase, exchange, field work, or any transaction by which title to an object passes to the college. In all cases, acquisitions should meet the basic acquisitions criteria of the institution. These assume that the collection items are:

  1. consistent with the mission and purpose of the college;
  2. useful in the college's educational, exhibition, research or interpretation activities;
  3. received in reasonably good condition so that they may be preserved with as little alteration as possible;
  4. accompanied by verifiable provenance data;
  5. unencumbered by donor, trademark, copyright or other restrictions;

B. The college divides its collections by type into:

  1. Permanent Collections. Original, rare, generally irreplaceable items preserved for the future and used only for exhibit purposes.
  2. Study Collections. Reproduced, abundant, replaceable items that may be consumed in use as research, teaching or loan materials.
  3. Functional Collections. Used for in-house (on campus) circulation and loans.

C. The college also accepts non-collection items: materials donated to the college but not appropriate for the permanent or study collections. These objects may be used for resale, interpretation, library, functional or other purposes. After notification of and approval by the President, the acceptance of these gifts shall be in writing by the Curator of Collections on a form other than the collection gift form.

D. In consultation with the President or the President's designee, the Curator of Collections shall determine the appropriateness of an object for the collection and the conditions under which it shall be approved for accessioning (formal inclusion) or deaccessioning (permanent removal).

E. Under supervision of the Provost, the Curator of Collections shall manage the collections and recommend all accessions and deaccessions. The curator shall be the staff member authorized to accept collection objects into the temporary custody of the college. All intended gifts shall have a signed receipt. All acquisitions shall be promptly accessioned upon acceptance and receipt.

V. Donations

A. All donations are considered outright and unconditional gifts to be used at the discretion of the college. In consultation with the President or the President's designee, the Curator of Collections will indicate the collection into which the donated objects will be accessioned or their designation as non-collection gifts at the time of acceptance.

B. The valuation of gifts remains the donor's responsibility. Neither the college nor its staff shall appraise or otherwise value objects for donors or prospective donors. The donor's valuation of the gift is, however, part of its provenance and shall be recorded by the college.

C. Collection materials shall be retained as long as they continue to be relevant to the purposes and activities of the college and they maintain their physical integrity and can be properly stored and preserved. Because the college periodically changes exhibits, no object can be considered for permanent exhibit. Accessioned objects may be used for exhibition, study, research, loan, examination or deaccession.

VI. Deaccessions

A. The deaccession process shall be judicious, deliberate, and scrupulous. Objects shall be permanently removed from the collections upon the written recommendation of the Curator of Collections with the approval of the President, who shall consult with the Board of Trustees. In all cases, deaccessions shall meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. no longer relevant or useful;
  2. deteriorated beyond repair or consumed in use;
  3. failed to retain its identity or authenticity;
  4. beyond the capability of the college to properly preserve;
  5. duplicated or redundant;
  6. more appropriately placed in another institution's collection.

B. Deaccessioned materials may be offered for exchange, gift or sale to other tax-exempt educational or cultural institutions. Deaccessioned objects not disposed of in this manner normally shall be sold at advertised public markets and only in a manner that will protect the interests, objectives and legal status of the institution. Funds received from the sale of deaccessioned objects from the collections shall be used for the care of the collections in or acquisitions for the designated department. Exceptions to this provision shall require specific authorization from the President.

C. The college does not sanction the sale or gift of deaccessioned objects to its employees, trustees or to their representatives outside the guidelines stated above.

VII. Loans

A. The college may accept short term, temporary loans for specified purposes. Because of the expense of housing, handling, maintaining and insuring loaned materials, the college generally cannot accept indefinite loans. The college shall exercise all reasonable care so that borrowed items are returned in the same condition as received. Loaned objects that the college is unable to return after making all reasonable attempts to do so will be considered abandoned property.

B. The college lends materials to similar institutions for its normal, public purposes (e.g. research, exhibition, interpretation) but only under conditions that insure proper care, security, and environmental protection of its objects. Materials on loan may not be photographed or reproduced without written permission from the Curator of Collections. They must be fully insured for loss or damage during shipment and the entire period in which they will be under the borrowing institution's care and returned promptly and in the same condition as when loaned.

C. The college lends materials from its study and functional collections within the institution for educational, exhibition, functional or decorative purposes in designated areas under the same conditions as stated above. Loaned materials from college collections shall not be used, stored, or displayed under conditions that would place their physical condition at risk.

VIII. Inventory

A complete inventory of the permanent collection shall be made a least every two years. On an annual basis, the Curator of Collections shall examine the collection to determine the status of the record system and the physical condition of objects susceptible to deterioration. The specific steps to be followed for both these processes shall be described in the collections management procedures manual.

IX. Access to the Collections

A. The college makes collection materials available for educational purposes through exhibition, interpretive programs and its circulating study collection. Special access for scholarly purposes is available by appointment.

B. Only the President, the Provost, the Curator of Collections, and staff members with specifically delegated authority shall have access to the permanent collections, storage areas, and collection records of the college. Others shall not be allowed in the storage areas without prior approval of the Curator of Collections and the supervision of an authorized staff member.

C. Those wishing to photograph or otherwise duplicate any materials from the collections must receive prior written permission of the Curator of Collections. If the item in question is to be photographed for publication or other display, it must be correctly labeled or captioned, crediting Centenary College as the source of the material. In return for such permission, the college may levy a fee at its discretion. All descriptive captions of photographs intended for publication or display shall be previewed and approved in advance by the Curator of Collections. A copy of any publication in which Centenary College collections material appears shall be provided to the college without charge.

D. The college reserves the right to refuse access to or use of its collections.

X. Ethical Standards and Conflicts of Interest

A. It is the responsibility of all staff members to recognize their responsibilities as guardians of irreplaceable objects and as college employees. Every staff member shall be guided by the standards prescribed in Museum Ethics and endorsed by the Board of Trustees of Centenary College through this policy.

B. College employees shall refrain from all activities which may be construed as creating a conflict of interest between their professional responsibilities and outside interest. The President shall be made aware of any possible conflict and take action as appropriate.

Adopted, October 1994. Last updated July, 1999.