Getting Your House in Order – Collections Documentation Workshops

Illustrated image of a vase, painting and shell

Do you know what you have, where it is and who owns it? Can you afford not to know this?

With museums’ stewardship of collections making national headlines, the spotlight is on museums and their accountability for the collections they hold in trust for the public. Post-pandemic there are many more museums now having to consider how robust their internal collections management processes and procedures will be in the face of local government reorganisations, major stores moves or other large-scale changes to the way in which their museum, and collections, are governed and operated.

But how well suited are your current documentation policies and procedures to also underpin the work you aim to achieve through your current forward plan? Do they support your strategic aims? Museums have undergone a seismic shift since the pandemic to become more accessible and inclusive. In trying to work with new audiences, to open up your collections and tell new stories, do you know if you already have the basics in place to be able to carry out this work to its full potential?

The actions required to manage the collections for these all to happen responsibly are the same as how any museum collection should be managed to make it accountable and useable in any circumstances – but these scenarios add an extra pressure or urgency to make sure your collections documentation is adequate.

Using the framework of Spectrum 5.1 and its procedures, this series of Getting Your House in Order workshops will focus on the planning and work required for museums to get their collections documentation in order.  

Led by staff at Collections Trust, these online workshops are for staff and volunteers from museums in the North of England which are Accredited or formally working towards Accreditation and who directly work with collections and documentation in their day-to-day role or who manage the staff and volunteers that do.

There are 22 places on each workshop. Places are available for museums in the north of England, priority will be given to those which are not regularly funded by Arts Council England or central government. If there are more than two delegates from a single museum booked on a workshop we reserve the right to amend delegate lists to allow museums from the waiting list to participate.

For trustees and senior managers, Collections Trust has resources on accountability for collections, to help those who may not apply the Spectrum standard in their day-to-day role to understand the standard and the primary procedures required by Museum Accreditation.

Workshop programme (all sessions will be held on Zoom and will be 2 hours long with a short comfort break)

  • Introduction to Spectrum 5.1
  • Ownership of collections
  • Location and movement control
  • Inventory and documentation planning
  • Cataloguing
  • Loans in and out
  • Documentation histories and manuals
  • Audit

These sessions will be delivered over the course of 2024/25 and you do not have to attend the whole programme – book the sessions which are most useful for you and your museum.  For more information and to book visit here.