intro collections management

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Presentation from a lecture to UCL students about current principles and practice in managing museum collections. Primarily of relevance to a student audience.


  • 1. Collections Management Nick Poole, Chief Executive, Collections Trust

2. Independent UK not-for-profit representing collections and the people who work with them. 3. We believe that everyone everywhere should have the right to access and benefit from collections. 4.

  • We will:
  • Put people at the heart of cultural services
  • Advocate the value of Collections
  • Advocate the role of CollectionsManagement in delivering great services
  • Represent everyone who works with Collections


  • Work programmes:
  • Advocacy
  • Research
  • Publishing
  • Standards
  • Digital
  • Training
  • Membership
  • Management

6. What is Collections Management....? 7. A balance between the competing demands of the highest feasible level of user access to collections against the challenge of long-term preservation. 8. A multi-disciplinary approach which uses the diverse skills and knowledge of collections professionals and others to achieve sustainable solutions. 9. A commitment at all levels of a collecting organisation to ensure the appropriate integration of policies, strategies, procedures, plans and resources. 10.

  • BSI PAS 197:A Code of Practice for Collections Management
  • A collective definition across museums, archives, libraries
  • Emphasising the similarities in core processes
  • Professionalising the practice of looking after stuff

11. Organisational Mission Collections Management Collections Development Collections Information Collections Care Collections Access 12.

  • An holistic approach
  • Its no longer about specialisms
  • Its about understanding the connections
  • Its about managing programmes effectively
  • Its about being a champion and advocate


  • Good management gives you...
  • Sustainability
  • Accountability
  • Compliance
  • The freedom to be creative and innovate
  • More opportunities to share
  • Confidence

14. Challenges and barriers.... 15.

  • Internal barriers...
  • Constraints on time and resources
  • The front/back office divide
  • Lack of management buy-in
  • What gets measured gets managed
  • Long-term programmes in a project culture


  • External barriers...
  • Strong emphasis on social policy
  • Education and public outcomes
  • Fragmentation of policy priorities

17. The greatest challenge resides in demonstrating the public value of managing collections. Its the so what argument. - Roy Clare, CEO, MLA 18. We have a dream, in which a museum is planning a project and the team includes the front-of-house staff, the curator, the registrar, the manager. And each of them comes to the meeting with a clear idea of what the other does, why it matters and how it can help them... 19.

  • Other big policy agendas for collections...
  • The Web (Digital Britain)
  • Democratising access
  • Social, environmental and economic sustainability
  • Innovation and enterprise

20. Things we do which can help you when youre working with Collections.... 21.

  • Collections Link
  • The National Collections Management Advisory Service
  • Best practice guidance on Collections Management
  • Expert advisers available by telephone and email
  • Database of training opportunities throughout the UK
  • Listings of specialist networks


  • Cultural Property Advice
  • The Government guide to managing cultural property
  • Expert advice on theft, restitution, repatriation, spoliation
  • Guidance on ethical acquisition, online auction sites etc.
  • Guidance on press relations


  • Discs-UK
  • Digital Services for the Cultural Sector
  • How to plan digital projects
  • How to procure digital services
  • Listings of hundreds of accredited digital providers


  • SPECTRUM Partners Scheme
  • Guidance on buying a Collections Management System
  • Guide to the features of the main companies
  • Validating software for standards compliance
  • Ensuring that the software meets your needs


  • Revisiting Collections
  • UK-wide methodology for capturing user interpretation of collections
  • Revealing some fascinating new information
  • Ways of conducting open, constructive user consultation
  • From the Collections Link website


  • CultureLabel
  • Connecting cultural agencies and big-name brands
  • Looking at how museums can innovate
  • Aggregating information & value across the sector
  • Looking at the business model underlying cultural service delivery
  • Launching November 2008


  • Copyright and the Law
  • We lead in the UK on Copyright for museums
  • Working with the UK Intellectual Property Office and others
  • Trying to provide a safe harbour for collections management
  • IP Manifesto for Collections


  • Digital Initiatives
  • UK lead on digital strategy for museums
  • Managing the Peoples Network in public libraries
  • Developing a coherent digital offer
  • Moving away from Digitisation towards service delivery
  • Partnering with Google, BBC, C4 etc...

29. Some takehomes... 30. No matter what excites or motivates you about working in museums, archives or libraries, you need to know whats involved in managing a collection. 31. There is no divide between management and delivery they are two sides of the same process, and neither exists without the other. 32. Bad management is incremental the worse it gets, the worse it gets and eventually it stops you being able to act. 33. If in doubt, always go back to first principles. What are you trying to achieve, who are you doing it for? Management is mostly just common-sense. 34. Theres never been a better time to go into culture as a career. Theres a generational shift going on out there, old ideas are being challenged and new models created. Public awareness is higher, politicians are smarter, there are more opportunities. Have fun! 35. Get in touch! Nick Poole 01223 316 028 [email_address] P.S. We do placements...