Deaccessioning Ethics:  Direct Care of Collections

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

Deaccessioning Ethics: Direct Care of Collections 
Small Museum Pro!
Instructor Spotlight
Featured Course
June 2017 Online Courses
July 2017 Online Courses
Conferences and Meetings
Deaccessioning Ethics: Direct Care of Collections
By Peggy Schaller
 
AAM has recently put out a White Paper on the Direct Care of Collections clause
Department of Entomology collections at the National Museum of Natural History. Photo by Chip Clark.
related to the sale of deaccessioned collections. In it they discuss ethical guidelines and recommendations for various types of museums. In the AAM Code of Ethics for Museums institutions are directed to use funds from the sale of deaccessioned collection items only for "acqui­sition or direct care of collections." [i]
 
This has been interpreted to mean that when an object is sold, the proceeds "should be used to either:
  • Replace the object with another that has relevance, importance or use to the museum's mission (acquisition)
  • Invest in the existing collections by enhancing their life, usefulness or quality and thereby ensuring they will continue to benefit the public (direct care)"[ii]
Within the White Paper AAM examines disciplinary differences in museums and realizes that not all types of museums operate the same way. Therefore, it is suggested that every museum create an institutional policy relating to the use of funds from the sale of deaccessioned collections.
 
This policy should address the following points:
  • The scope of "direct care of collections," using the ethical principles of direct care and the ethics and standards of the museum's discipline
  • Establish the methodology that the museum will use to decide how funds will be used
  • Determine who among the professional staff (collections, curatorial, management and leadership) and the Museum's governing authority need to be involved in making these decisions.[iii]
AAM is recommending that a museum's governing authority establish a separate and identifiable account in which to hold the funds from such sales. This will serve to keep the funds from being used for purposes other than direct care of collections.
 
The White Paper also created a decision making matrix to determine whether a proposed use is appropriate under the ethics and standards of the field and the discipline of the museum.
 
The horizontal axis of the matrix defines the physical impact on collection objects between preserving the life and usefulness of an object(s) to making an impact on the entire operation of the institution. Examples of the former include conservation treatment; restoration of an object; or preservation/res­toration of an interpreted historic structure that is treated as part of the collection. Examples of the later include salaries; preservation/ restoration of historic structures or landscapes that are not interpreted to the public and are not treated as part of the collection.[iv]
 
The vertical axis of the matrix defines the nature of the proposed expenditure. Is the proposed expenditure a strategic investment for the fiscal and physical plan for the collections and not normally part of the museum's operating budget or is it a quick fix or Band-Aid used to fill a budgetary gap and not directly related to collections care.[v]
 
Where the two points intersect within the matrix indicates whether the expenditure is appropriate.
 
AAM also created the following questions to help with decision making. A yes answer indicates "direct care".
  • "Will this investment enhance the life, use­fulness or quality of an object(s)?
  • Is this a strategic decision based, for exam­ple, on an institutional plan, a collections care plan or a conservation assessment?
  • Will the expenditure have a physical impact on an item(s) in the collections?
  • Will this investment improve the physical condition of an item(s) in the collections rather than benefit the operation of the entire museum?
  • Is this decision being made without pres­sure resulting from financial distress at the museum or parent organization?
  • Is this a cost that is not normally con­sidered part of the museum's operating budget?
  • Can this decision be clearly explained to the museum's stakeholders and the public?"[vi]
The White Paper addresses the concerns of many museums and museum professionals on what 'direct care of collections' means and outlines how to make appropriate decisions for your museum using this guidance and the ethics and standards of your museum's discipline. Each of the various disciplines of museums is addressed in sidebars throughout the paper and specific guidance is offered to each.
 
The PDF of the White Paper on Direct Care of Collections may be downloaded here:   http://aam-us.org/resources/ethics-standards-and-best-practices/direct-care
 
 
Peggy Schaller, founded Collections Research for Museums in 1991 to provide cataloging and collection management training and services. She has worked with a large variety of museums and collections for more than 20 years. Peggy, who lives in Denver, Colorado, has a bachelor's degree in anthropology with minors in art history and geology from the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has a master's degree in anthropology with a minor in museum studies from the University of Colorado in Boulder and is a Certified Institutional Protection Manager II. She provides workshops and project services to museums and historical societies all across the country. The mission of Collections Research for Museums is to inspire museums to improve their professional standards, collections stewardship and service to their constituency through training in, and assistance with, documenting, preserving, protecting and managing their collections. For more information visit her web site   Collections Research for Museums. Peggy is also the Publications Manager, Certificate Program Coordinator, and Course Monitor for Northern States Conservation Center and museumclasses.org.



[ii] Direct Care of Collections, Ethics, Guidelines and Recommendations, 2016, page 7
[iii] Ibid, page 8
[iv] Ibid, page 9
[v] Ibid, Page 10
[vi] Ibid, Page 11

Small Museum Pro! Online Courses in 2017
Northern States Conservation Center is please to host American Association for State and Local History's Small Museum Pro! online courses in 2017

Museum Education and Outreach
Instructor: Tanya Brock
Trowulan Museum, East Java
June 5 to July 31, 2017
 
At their heart, regardless of type or size, museums are educational organizations. This course is about how we can facilitate visitors' meaningful and memorable experiences in the informal environments of museums.
At the end of this course you will be able to:
  • describe the characteristics and learning needs of various museum audiences
  • summarize what we know about learning in museums
  • assess the strengths and weaknesses of interpretive techniques and program approaches
  • utilize a system for planning, operating, and evaluating museum educational programs
  • access resources to assist you in future development of effective learning experiences 
To learn more visit:
http://learn.aaslh.org/event/online-course-museum-education-and-outreach/
Instructor Spotlight:
Gawain Weaver 

Gawain Weaver teaches international workshops on photograph conservation and preservation. He earned his master's degree in art history and conservation from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts and was a fellow at the George Eastman House and Image Permanence Institute for two years. His interest in photograph conservation included studying at Library and Archives Canada, the Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Northeast Document Conservation Center. For more information visit his web site Gawain Weaver Art Conservation

Gawain teaches our  MS222: Care of Photographs course starting June 19, 2017.  If you are interested in learning more about the care and structure of photographs, join Gawain for the interesting and informative course. 
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount is 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 June 2017 courses is May 20, 2017

The Early Bird Discount deadline for July 2017 courses is June 3, 2017  
 
Featured Course: Disaster Plan Research and Writing

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.

Join Terri Schindel
for this interesting and very informative course MS205/206 Disaster Pan Research and Writing beginning July 3, 2017 and come away with a workable draft plan to present to your museum. 
June 2017 Courses
 
June 19 to August 4, 2017
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 2017 Courses
 
July 3 to August 25, 2017
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 3 to 31, 2017
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 3 to August 11, 2017
Instructor:  Stefani Pendergast (for 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.
 
MS 235: Scripting the Exhibition: Labels and Interpretive Panels
July 3 to 31, 2017
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 3 to 31, 2017
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.
Conferences and Meetings
 
2017  
Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, Rochester, NY
June 9-13, 2017
 
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Denver, CO 
June 18-24, 2017

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, Eugene, OR
June 22-26, 2017
 

Society of American Archivists, 2017 Annual Meeting, Portland, OR  
July 23-29, 2017  

American Association for State and Local History, Austin, TX
September 6-9, 2017

Southeastern Museums Conference, 2017 Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA 
September 11-13, 2017  
 

International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, New Haven, CT
September 17-20, 2017

Western Museums Association, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
September 20-23, 2017
   
 
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