Collections Stewardship
Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute an article.
In This Issue

Collections Stewardship
Featured Course
July Online Courses
August Online Courses
Featured Product
Regional Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
Collections Stewardship:
What is it and why should you care?
By Peggy Schaller

What exactly is collections stewardship and how does it affect you? According to the AAM Standards Regarding Collection Stewardship, collections "Stewardship is the careful, sound and responsible management of that which is entrusted to a museum's care."
Clockwise from top left: Paul Allen's Flying History, Seattle, WA; Corderite, rough and cut; Bradbury Science Museum; Coin, National Museum of American History
All museums, whether they are active collecting institutions, non-collecting institutions or somewhere in-between, have collections of one kind or another because we all use 'things' to tell our story. These 'things' can take many forms. They can be works of art, historical/ethnographic objects, natural history specimens, live plants or animals, historic properties or interactive, hands-on exhibit objects. They can be owned by the institution or on loan from another source, but all should relate to and enhance the museum's mission.
 
The "careful, sound and responsible management" of these collections can be roughly divided into two main categories. The first is physical management. This includes providing an appropriate environment for the storage and exhibition of collections in our care and for the transportation of collections within and outside our institutions; providing physical security for collections in storage, on exhibit or moving through the institution or to/from another location; providing written procedures and proper training for monitoring, handling and care of collections; periodic inventories and designated storage/exhibit locations for collections; and addressing collections in disaster plans and drills. The second category is intellectual management. This involves the documentation of collections by accessioning, cataloging and documenting appropriateness to the museum's mission; established policies and procedures which outline the museum's responsibilities to the collections, reasons for acquiring them and appropriate uses for them; consistent record keeping and records management; and adherence to ethical, legal and moral obligations to the public trust surrounding our collections and the public benefit derived from them.
 
All these things make good collections stewardship the responsibility of every person involved in the successful day-to-day operation of our institutions. It is the primary mission of all museums and cultural institutions to preserve collections for present and future generations, but also to make these 'things' available and accessible for the enjoyment and education of these same individuals. The balancing act of preservation versus accessibility is the essence of collections stewardship.
 
AAM's Standards Regarding Collections Stewardship contains specific guidance and standards for museums to strive for in the management of their collections and can be found at: http://www.aam-us.org/resources/ethics-standards-and-best-practices/collections-stewardship
 
 
Peggy Schaller founded Collections Research for Museums in 1991 to provide cataloging, collection-management training and services. She has worked with a large variety of museums and collections for more than 20 years. She teaches several courses for museumclasses.org: MS103 The Basics of Museum Registration; MS207 Collections Management: Cataloging your Collection; MS267 Museum Ethics; MS218 Collection Inventories and MS007 The Museum Mission Statement: Is it Really That Important?
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount will be available for anyone who signs up for a full length course from museumclasses.org 30 days prior to the start of that course.  
 
Sign up for a full length course up to 30 days prior to its start and save $100.00!
 
For our course list or to sign up: http://www.collectioncare.org/course-list  
 
To take advantage of this discount, you must enter coupon code EARLYBIRD at checkout at collectioncare.org

The Early Bird Discount deadline for August courses is July 2, 2016. 
Featured Course: Matting and Framing

Matting and Framing teaches the materials and techniques of conservation-quality framing. For display, matting and framing provides both protective and aesthetic contributions to art on paper. Students will learn about different types of enclosures, different mat styles and cutting methods, the pros and cons of different backing boards and glazing, and different methods of attaching items to a mat, some of which do not involve adhering hinges to art on paper. Lectures, illustrations, product resources, and additional informational references will be provided.

Join Tom Bennett for this informative course MS233 Matting and Framing starting August 1, 2016.
June 2016 Courses

MS 222: Care of Photographs
June 20 to August 5, 2016
Instructor:  Gawain Weaver
Description:
Photographic materials cover a diverse range, everything from the daguerreotypes and wet plate negatives of the 19th century to the gelatin silver, chromogenic and inkjet prints of the 20th and now 21st century. Care of Photographs offers a broad introduction to the history, technology, identification, and care of these and other photographic materials. Topics include environmental monitoring, the effects of temperature and relative humidity, and the importance of cold storage for certain photographic materials. It is intended to help those caring for photographic materials to gain a better understanding of their collections and how to care for them.
July 2016 Courses
 
July 1 to August 26, 2016
Instructor: Terri Schindel
Description:
Every museum needs to be prepared for fires, floods, chemical spills, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. But surveys show 80 percent lack trained staff, emergency-preparedness plans for their collections, or both. Disaster Plan Research and Writing begins with the creation of disaster-preparedness teams, the importance of ongoing planning, employee safety, board participation and insurance. Participants will learn everything they need to draft their own disaster-preparedness plans. They also will be required to incorporate colleagues in team-building exercises. A written disaster-preparedness plan is not only a good idea, it's also a requirement for accreditation. In the second half of the course, instructor Terri Schindel reviews and provides input as participants write plans that outline the procedures to follow in various emergencies. The completed plan prepares museums physically and mentally to handle emergencies that can harm vulnerable and irreplaceable collections. You will have a completed institutional disaster-preparedness and response plan at the end of the course. Once completed with this course, we recommend the Disaster Preparation and Recovery course taught by Helen Alten to provide more information about staff organization and management during and after a disaster.
 
July 1 to 29, 2016
Instructor: Peggy Schaller
Description:
Cataloging may not be the most exciting museum task, but it is among the most important. Without a clear knowledge of your holdings, you can't protect, care for, research or exhibit them. Without knowledge of an item's history, you can't properly appreciate its value to your museum. Cataloging Your Collection covers all details needed to catalog a collection. Procedures for handling, measuring and describing all types of objects and materials are discussed in detail. Participants receive sample forms and learn the best practices for numbering artifacts, performing inventory and assessing the condition of objects. Participants practice describing everyday objects and cataloging items from their own collections or households.
 
July 1 to August 12, 2016
Instructor: Christina Cain
Description:
The only thing worse than mice or cockroaches in your kitchen, is finding them in your museum collection. Participants in Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives learn low-toxicity methods of controlling infestations. IPM is the standard method for treating incoming items and monitoring holdings. Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives discusses how infestations occur, helps identify risks, provides feasible mitigation strategies, discusses the different techniques of treating infested materials, and helps you complete an IPM plan and monitoring schedule for your institution. The course covers pest identification, insects, rodent, birds, bats, other mammals and mold infestations, as well as other problems raised by participants.
 
NEW ADDITION: MS225: Care of Baskets
July 1 to 29, 2016
Instructor: Helen Alten
Description:
Baskets are an important part of nearly every world culture. Caring for baskets requires an understanding of why and how they deteriorate. Care of Baskets provides a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of basketry materials. Starting with an overview of the history and function of baskets and how they are made, Care of Baskets will cover guidelines for handling, labeling, exhibiting and storing baskets, including condition assessments and an introduction to integrated pest management. An overview of treatments used on baskets and how appropriate they are for the long-term preservation of the basket will help students make care decisions when consulting with conservators.
 
 
July 1 to 29, 2016
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
So much to say and so little space in which to say it. That is the dilemma when scripting an exhibition. How do you say what needs to be said in the space available? How do you even figure out how to limit the information in the first place? Discover the value of themes, tangibles, intangibles, and universals in writing exhibit text that visitors really want to read -- and remember. Additional resources provided on font size and colors as well as label layout.
 
July 1 to 29, 2016
Instructor: Helen Alten
Description:
Moving collections is a daunting task. Fragile items need special packing and care to be safely transported. Large, heavy or awkward items like dinosaurs and oversized sculptures require special equipment and support from local authorities. How do you design your project to meet the budget and timing demands of your administration? Are your collections over-packed in acidic boxes and does your move includes improving their storage and care? Collections often take up more room when they are stored properly. How do you determine your needed storage space when the collection is decompressed? Moving Collections provides an overview of how to plan and manage a move to avoid the many pitfalls. The course includes: defining your project, developing a Request for Proposal (RFP), developing a work plan, staffing, and packing protocols. Whether you are moving part of the collection within your building or moving the entire collection to another facility, Moving Collections provides a blueprint for you to follow.
 
July 1 to 29, 2016
Instructor:  Peggy Schaller
Description:
This course will examine the role of ethics in museums and related institutions. Topics addressed will include the differences in ethics, laws, and morals; what ethics are and where they come from; the ethical codes that museum professionals follow; how ethics affect professional practices; why ethics are important; and how ethical standards can help museums and related institutions better serve society. Participants in the course will gain an understanding of the importance of ethics in professional museum practice, how codes of ethics are written and why they are important, and will develop an understanding of the most significant codes of ethics subscribed to by museum professionals.
August Courses
 
August 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor: Stevan Layne
Description:
World events continually remind us just how important security is. The FBI and Interpol databases record thefts from small rural museums and world renowned art collections. The prevalence of collections lost to theft is brought home to us with regular sensational newspaper stories. And then there are the internal thefts, fires, and collection vandalism that also result in loss. Security must be a priority for every museum, regardless of size. Introduction to Security teaches basic, practical approaches to protecting against threats such as theft, vandalism, violent acts, natural disasters, fire and environmental hazards. Topics include selecting security systems, determining security needs and how to build affordable security systems. Screening, hiring, firing, workplace violence, policies and procedures and emergency management planning are covered as well.
 
August 1 to September 9, 2016
Instructor:  Helen Alten
Description:
Cobwebs in the gallery, dust on the dinosaur skeleton, mice in storage - a dirty museum results in poor visitor experience and poor collections preservation. In a museum, cleanliness really is next to godliness. Museum Cleaning Basics explores everything you need to know about cleaning your collections. Participants learn when to clean - and when not to clean. They also learn how to make those decisions. Topics range from basic housekeeping to specific techniques for specific objects. You will learn why cleaning is important and how to prevent damage when cleaning. We will look at specific techniques that minimize damage while getting the work done. And we will discuss when to call in a specialist, such as a conservator. Students will create a housekeeping manual for their institution.
 
August 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor:  Victoria Montana Ryan
Description:
Caring for paintings requires some knowledge of the component structure of paintings and the reaction of those components to both natural and man-made environments. This course looks at the painting structure, the effects of damaging environments, and proposes simple steps for basic care. Topics include the structure of paintings, proper condition reporting with standard damage vocabulary, and basic care and handling including environments, storage, and transport. The course is intended to help those entrusted with the care of paintings in any environment.
 
August 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor: Tom Bennett
Description:
Matting and Framing teaches the materials and techniques of conservation-quality framing. For display, matting and framing provides both protective and aesthetic contributions to art on paper. Students will learn about different types of enclosures, different mat styles and cutting methods, the pros and cons of different backing boards and glazing, and different methods of attaching items to a mat, some of which do not involve adhering hinges to art on paper. Lectures, illustrations, product resources, and additional informational references will be provided.
 
August 1 to 26, 2016
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
Description:
The world of museum education is as varied as the imagination. From school field trips to online blogs, from 2-year-olds to senior citizens, and from formal programs to volunteering, it is all part of the educational delivery system of a museum. In Education in Museums, survey the education programs offered at your site. Determine what exhibits and collections need better representation through education. Develop a long term plan of education program development for your site that you can use to improve services to your community.
Featured Product

Preservation Guide 3: Paintings

Author: the Historic New Orleans Collection. Preservation Guides by the Historic New Orleans Collection provide clear, in-depth collection care advice. Each guide has illustrative photographs and drawings.

Preservation Guide 3: Paintings
$4.00

Regional Workshops
Where you can find some of our instructors in 2016:

Stevan P. Layne

  • Association of Midwest Museums, July 27, 2016
  • Association of Midwest Museums, July 28, 2016
  • Aspen, CO, August 28-31, 2016
  • Hosted by ASIS International and sponsored by the ASIS Cultural Properties Council, Orlando, FL,September 13, 2016

Gawain Weaver
  • University of Kansas Libraries, June 13-16, 2016
Conferences and Meetings
2016 
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Berlin, Germany
June 20-25, 2016
 
Society of American Archivists
Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and Society of American Archivists, Atlanta, GA
July 31, 2016 - August 6, 2016

International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, Aspen, Colorado
August 28-31, 2016
 
American Association of State and Local History, Detroit, Michigan
September 14-17, 2016
 
Alberta Museums Association, Calgary, Alberta
September 15 - 17, 2016
 
Oklahoma Museums Association, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
September 21-23, 2016
 
Western Museums Association, Phoenix, AZ
September 25-28, 2016.  
 
Southeastern Museums Conference Charlotte, NC
October 10-12, 2016
   
Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Oklahoma City
October 23-27, 2016

National Association for Interpretation, Corpus Christi, Texas 
November 8-12, 2016
 
New England Museum Association, 2016 Annual Conference, Mystic, CT
November 9-11, 2016 
2017
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Denver, CO 
June 18-24, 2017
 
Society of American Archivists, 2017 Annual Meeting, Portland, OR
July 23 - 29, 2017
Southeastern Museums Conference, 2017 Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA 
September 11-13, 2017

Western Museums Association, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Dates TBA 
 
New England Museum Association, 2017 Annual Conference, North Falmouth, MA
October 25-27, 2017
 
National Association for Interpretation, Spokane, Washington
November 14-18, 2017

2018
Society of American Archivists, 2018 Annual Meeting, Washington, DC
August 12-18, 2018

Western Museums Association, Tacoma, WA
Dates TBA 
 
Southeastern Museums Conference, 2018 Annual Meeting, Jackson, MS
October 8-10, 2018
 
National Association for Interpretation
Dates and location TBD
November 2018
 
2019  
National Association for Interpretation, Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019


Submissions and Comments
How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter:  
If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to peggy@collectioncare.org .  
 
We are always looking for contributions to this newsletter. Submission deadline is the 10th of each month. 
 
Have a comment or suggestion?   
 
Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at   museumclasses.org in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.
 
Sincerely,
Helen Alten, Director
Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager