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Photo: Victoria Kure Wu, courtesy of Unsplash.

Collection management & care

Each object in a collection has its own special care needs. Use these resources to learn how to effectively store, catalogue and manage your collection.

Collection management

Thinking about: collection policies 

This document is for small to medium museums, but contains information pertinent to public art galleries and Aboriginal keeping places. Written by Museums & Galleries of NSW.  

Collection policy template 

This template can be used as a reference, either to compare with an existing document, or as background reading for preparing a new document. Developed by Association of Museums and Galleries Australia (Victoria), 2014.  

The small museums cataloguing manual: a guide to cataloguing objects and image collections 

This edition has been revised to include guidance on using cataloguing software on computers, ‘how to’ examples of worksheets and a list of useful resources. Published by Australian Museums and Galleries Association (Victoria), 5th edition, 2021.  

Significance 2.0: A guide to assessing the significance of collections 

This publication aims to help collecting organisations, collections professionals and the broader public to determine the significance of cultural and heritage objects. Published by the Collections Council of Australia, 2009.  

Significance in a nutshell

This resource, produced by Victorian Collections provides an introduction to Significance, highlighting the four primary criteria (Historic, Aesthetic, Scientific and Social) and five comparative criteria (Provenance, Rarity, Representativeness, Condition, Interpretive Capacity). Resource updated 2021.

Purposes and policies 

Learn to write a mission statement and collections policy for your museum, gallery or library. By re:Collections. 

Collection management

These resources by the Western Australian Museum covers such topics as: interventive conservation, preventive conservation, accessioning, disposal, loans, policies, finance, and disaster planning.

Collections management 

Advice and guidance from Museums Galleries Scotland, UK, that includes: the importance of research, disposal, human remains in museums, etc.  

Condition reporting 

Condition reporting is a valuable tool for managing collections. This guide offers a systematic approach to reviewing the condition of items in your collection, as well as a consistent framework, and a set of terms for making useful reports. Published by National Services Te Paerangi, New Zealand, 2010.  

Collection surveys and condition reporting 

Understand the value of examining and recording the condition of your collection and individual items in the collection. By re:Collections. 

Protecting movable cultural heritage 

In Australia, national and foreign cultural heritage is protected by our laws. Australian cultural property objects are significant to the nation’s identity. It is important all cultural heritage items are imported and exported legally. Fact sheet by the Australian Government.  

Preventive conservation

How to develop a conservation plan for a community museum

Conservation is a real issue for small organisations that look after heritage, art and other cultural collections. Working with limited conservation resources can be easier if you know about relevant conservation practices, and have policies and plans that draw on appropriate information and advice. Published by Australian Museums and Galleries Association (Victoria), 2006.  

Conservation planning 

Museums and galleries have a responsibility to care for their collections, and part of the effective care of your collection is – knowing what the risks to your collection are and having a plan that outlines how you are going to minimise these risks. Updated by Australian Museums and Galleries Association (Victoria), 2019.  

Preservation planning for large collections 

This information guide explains how preservation planning determines how to care for the collection now and into the future. Guide written by the State Library of Queensland, 2014.  

Conservation and lighting

This info sheet covers the steps to take to reduce light damage to collections and displays such as reducing the amount of visible light, reducing the time of exposure and eliminating non-visible radiation. Written by Scottish Museums Council, adapted by Australian Museums and Galleries Association (Victoria), 2003.  

Conservation resources

These simple guides by the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, NSW, includes conservation topics such as: how to create a padded coat hanger, how to brush vacuum an object, labelling museum objects, mounting photos and documents, and making mannequins.

Technical preservation handbook

Written by the National Film and Sound Archive, this handbook covers a wide range of preservation subjects including film construction, identification storage and damage.

Acquisitions and deaccessioning

Acquisition fact sheet 

This fact sheet takes you through the formal process of obtaining legal possession by purchase, donation or through bequest of an item. Fact sheet by Museums & Galleries of NSW.  

Acquisitions and significance

Knowing the significance of an object can help institutions set priorities for work programs and the allocation of resources. Resource by re:Collections.

Deed of gifts form 

You can use this template to document the transfer of ownership of donated objects. Template by Museums & Galleries of NSW. 

Australian best practice guide to collecting cultural material 

This guide describes the ethical and legal issues that museums, galleries and libraries need to consider when they acquire or borrow cultural material. Published by the Australian Government, 2015. 

Collections rationalisation 

Watch this short animation to begin the first steps in organising your collections. Uploaded by SHARE Museums East, UK, 2015.  

How to collect the history of your area

Written by Manitoba Historical Society, this resource suggests some materials to collect that illustrate the story of your local area. To be used by historical societies as a starting point.

Disposal toolkit: guidelines for museums 

This toolkit provides detailed advice on the process of identifying appropriate items for disposal, and ensuring that their removal from a museum collection is ethical. Published by Museums Association, UK, 2014.  

Deaccessioning and disposal 

This fact sheet takes you through the process of deaccessioning and disposing of objects in your collection. Fact sheet by Museums & Galleries of NSW. 

Collection care, storage & handling

Caring for collections

These demonstration videos include such topics as: how to house your collection; how to store your collection safely; how to safely handle your collection; and care of textiles and metals. Resources by the State Library of Queensland.  

Looking after your collections 

These information guides offer advice on preserving and storing your precious items. Guides include: paper-based items; books and bound material; parchment; photographs; digital prints; magnetic media; motion picture film; and preservation planning for large collections. Guides by the State Library of Queensland.  

Collections care 

This factsheet is for those new to museum work. It explains what collections care is, the reasons behind it, why it is important, the activities involved and the responsibilities of the museum managers and governing body. Written by Australian Museums and Galleries Association (Victoria).  

Collections care manual 

This online resource was developed for smaller organisations and private collectors. It includes a series of 12 instructional videos and book Conservation and Care of Collections, providing information on general conservation techniques.

Topics include: box making; dust and brush vacuuming; freezing objects; handling objects; integrated pest management; labelling; light control; mould; storage basics; storage materials; temperature and relative humidity; and textile storage. Resources by the Western Australian Museum.  

Collections care 

Advice and guidance from Museums Galleries Scotland, UK, that includes: protecting textiles, paper collections, photographic collections, preserving paintings and frames, and metal care.  

The effects of storage and display materials on objects 

Storage and display materials can cause corrosion, discolouration or deterioration of objects. The advice describes what display materials should be paired with collection materials for safe storage and display. Written by Museums Galleries Scotland, UK.  

How to handle paper, paintings and framed objects 

This how-to guide explains the necessary steps to properly handle paper, paintings and framed objects. Guide written by Museums & Galleries of NSW.  

Packing museum objects: a collections care how to guide

This publication explains how good packing will provide long term support and protection and is a cost-effective method of collections care. Published by SHARE Museums East, UK, 2012. 

Collection tips and guides – materials 

These resources contain information concerning the care of some of the most common cultural materials including: electronic information media; leather; outdoor collections; metals; paintings; paper; wood; photographs; textiles; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural material; and books. Resources by re:Collections.  

Collection tips and guides – damage and decay 

Topics include: light and ultraviolet radiation; humidity and temperature; common deterioration processes; biological pests; and dust and pollutants. Resources by re:Collections. 

MuseumPests.net 

The goal of this website is to be the most comprehensive source of information and support for those implementing integrated pest management policies and procedures in collections-holding and cultural heritage institutions. Website by the Integrated Pest Management Working Group.  

Handling, transportation, storage and display 

Learn how vulnerable objects are when they are being handled, know the ideal conditions for storing and displaying mixed collections of objects, and understand the need to protect objects from fluctuations in environmental conditions when moving them from one climatic zone to another. Resources by re:Collections.  

Creating or improving stores

This factsheet outlines aspects that should be taken into account when designing, creating or improving a store. It concentrates on the general principles of good museum storage. This factsheet has been adapted for use in Australia by Sarah Slade for Museums Australia (Victoria) with kind permission from the Scottish Museums Council.

Environmental monitoring 

Advice and guidance from Museums Galleries Scotland, UK, that includes: environmental monitoring, light and UV radiation, identifying and reducing air pollution, and temperature and humidity in museums.  

Temperature and humidity 

Temperature, humidity, light levels and air quality all need to be controlled. This factsheet deals with the effects of temperature and humidity. Written by Scottish Museums Council, adapted by Australian Museums and Galleries Association (Victoria), 2003.  

Hazardous materials in museum collections

This resource is a list of the sorts of materials in general museum collections that may present a danger, either to museum workers and visitors, or to other objects in the collection. Written by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Digitisation

Planning your digitisation project

This infosheet, produced by Victorian Collections provides insight into the planning of time, skills, equipment and funding necessary to undertake a digititsation project. Resource updated 2021.

Digitisation Toolkit

The Digitisation Toolkit describe the considerations for planning a successful digitisation program. Published by State Library of Queensland.

How to digitise your collection

This video takes you through the right options to safely digitise and document your heritage collections. Video by the State Library of Queensland. 

Specialist techniques for digitisation 

This video shows some of the equipment and techniques that are used to digitise SLQ’s collections. Video by the State Library of Queensland.  

Crystal clear 

Standards and guidance for digitising regional collections held in museums, galleries, keeping places and cultural centres. Published by Museums & Galleries of NSW, 2019.  

Photographing collection items

This video by Australian Museums and Galleries Association (Victoria) demonstrates ways in which you can use basic equipment to photograph your collection items for documentation and digitisation purposes.

How to digitise your collection

These resources by Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa offer an introduction to digital imaging for museums and galleries through informative videos and PDF guides.

A guide to digitisation: user guide 

This resource is designed to help you develop digitisation processes for your organisation. Guide by SHARE Museums East, UK.  

Making collections accessible 

This report is designed to assist historical societies in three key areas associated with the development of a useable digital collection: cataloguing, creating a digital collection, access and discoverability. Written by Federation of Australian Historical Societies, 2018.  

Just digitise it: Information for community groups about how to digitise photographs and paper records 

This document will help you prioritise digitisation projects based on the size of the job, what condition the original record is in and how much you know about a record. Written by Public Record Office Victoria.  

Online collections copyright

This resource, produced by Victorian Collections provides general advice about copyright duration and the appropriateness of online publication. Resource updated 2021.

Government Sources

Digitised Newspapers

Family History Websites

Professional Organisations

Rights Management Organisations

Searching for copyright or copyright renewals

Further assistance

M&G QLD Consultant & Supplier Register 

M&G QLD’s Consultant and Supplier Register is a comprehensive list of museum and gallery sector specialists, both Queensland-based and nationally.  

Directory of conservators

The Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material’s directory of conservators in private practice lists over 65 members in Australia. 

List of approved valuers: cultural gifts program 

This list by the Australian Government contains the contact details and specialisms of approved Valuers across the country.  

Funding

Find related funding in our Grants & Philanthropic funding resource.

Resources are correct at time of publishing. Is there a resource that should be on this page? Let us know.

Enquiries

Heather Moore, Prue McComish

Information Officers, Museums & Galleries Queensland

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