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  • 1.  Collections Committee Membership

    Posted 05-16-2024 11:01 AM

    Hi Colleagues,


    I'm wondering – who sits on your museum's Collections Committee? Staff only, or are board members, community members, or others on your Committee? If so, are they voting members?


    At the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (BBCW), our committee is composed of our Library Director, Curators from each of our 5 museums, Registrar, Conservator, Director of Curatorial, Education, and Museum Services, Exhibition Production Manager, and Executive Director – all FT staff. Others may be invited to sit on the committee at the discretion of the Executive Director, who serves as Chair.


    The role of the Collections Committee at the BBCW is to review and approve acquisitions, deaccessions, loans, temporary custody agreements, and other collections transactions in accordance with our Collections Management Policy. In addition, they advocate for the needs of the collections, have specific expertise in current legal, ethical, and cultural aspects of collections, and discuss potential additions or changes to collections policies and procedures for presentation to the Board of Trustees.


    The Advisory Boards of each of our 5 museums are invited to make recommendations on acquisitions and deaccessions. Our Trustees approve acquisitions over a threshold value and approve all deaccessions.


    Thank you in advance! I am looking forward to comparing Collections Committee membership rosters across several institutions.






    Karen Brooks McWhorter

    Director of Curatorial, Education, and Museum Services


  • 2.  RE: Collections Committee Membership

    Posted 05-17-2024 06:21 AM

    Karen, at our institution, Kings Landing Corporation, we don't have a committee per say.  The Heritage Resources Manager can approve of acquisitions, loans, transfers, deaccessions etc up to a certain level of value of 1000 dollars.  These transactions must meet the check boxes of a report to be given to the Collections Committee on the Board.  Up to 5000 dollars it needs the Boards approval, over 5000 dollars, the approval of the CEO.

    Evelyn Fidler
    Assistant Director of Heritage Resources
    Kings Landing Corporation
    New Brunswick, Canada

  • 3.  RE: Collections Committee Membership

    Posted 05-17-2024 08:06 AM

    The Collections Committee at CCHC is a standing committee of the Board of Trustees. The number of people is usually no more than 7. It can include non-Board members but it is expected to have a Board member as the Chair, and at least one other Board member plus the Board Chair as ex officio. Non-Board members are typically knowledgeable in the field (retired conservator, former Board member of other museums, volunteer in the department, etc.). The staff members who participate in addition to the committee members include the Director of Collections/Curator (Library, Museum, Photo Archives) and the President (Director).


    The primary work of acquisitions and deaccessions is handled by the staff, who report in summary to the committee (quarterly meetings and bi-monthly reports). The committee must approve acquisition purchases over a threshold dollar amount and must approve all deaccessions. The Committee Chair than requests Board approval and the Director of Collections may elaborate if there are questions. On rare occasions the committee weighs in on an outgoing loan request, particularly if it's highly valuable but it is the staff responsibility to make the final decision. The committee may advise on collections department projects or may sought be for input about sources for incoming loans, appraisal specialists, or local history topics. They are rarely involved in acquisition donations.


    The context for this structure: CCHC has a volunteer Board of no more than 24, staff (FTE, PTE) total 14 of which 2.5 are responsible for all three areas of the permanent collection (library 750,000 mss, museum 80,000 artifacts, 100,000 photos).


    Hope this helps.



    Ellen E. Endslow

    Director of Collections/Curator

    Chester County History Center

    225 N. High Street

    West Chester, PA  19380

    610-692-4066 x257


  • 4.  RE: Collections Committee Membership

    Posted 28 days ago

    Our situation is very similar to Ellen's; standing committee of the board, no more than 7 members, made up of staff, board and community (also often former board or volunteers familiar with history of the area). Our ex-officio members are the board president, the museum's director and the museum's curator of collections. There is also a committee chair who is a board member. The museum's curator of education is not required to sit but typically has (meaning essentially all full time staff sits on the committee).


    Where we differ is what is reviewed. The staff does do the primary DX work, with just review/approval by the committee, but every donation offer is discussed by the whole committee (barring a few exceptions of items that are "pre-approved" in our Collections Policy Acquisition Priorities list). This may be possible due to our size; we are a smaller museum and typically get around a dozen offers per bi-monthly meeting. Total staff of 5 (FTE, PTE), though we are part of a county parks department which employs ~ 45 people and the county as a whole a few hundred. Collection size estimated at 35k objects, 100k archives, 10k photographs.


    emailMichelle Nash
    Curator of Collections
    Elkhart County Historical Museum



    "Museum collection storage is both a physical space and an ongoing process."- NPS


  • 5.  RE: Collections Committee Membership

    Posted 05-17-2024 08:21 AM
    Dear Karen - in starting from scratch with regard to industry standards as ED/curator of a small (academic) museum that had virtually never had professional management staff, I established its first collections committee.  I felt it was essential to have outside scholars, curators, historians/art historians AND a member of the board on the committee.  While it can be difficult to recruit  outside professionals with the time/commitment to serve in such capacities, it might be viewed as part of their service to the field, boosting their argument for tenure, promotion etc. at their own institutions.

    In addition, outside representation can bring fresh perspectives, expertise and even a true community voice.  Also, having a board member already apprised of the deliberations that occurred behind the scenes can make full board approval more likely.

    Your institution is large and it sounds like your existing committee is as well, so this model might make yours too unwieldy.  Vivian

  • 6.  RE: Collections Committee Membership

    Posted 05-17-2024 09:38 AM

    Good morning Karen!

    I'm currently both full time staff at a museum and a part time collections contractor. My current museum is a county historical society/complex where all staff, board members, and volunteers are local. Our collections committee consists of myself as Assistant Director/Registrar and our Museum Director (the only full time staff we have) and three board members. We meet monthly, all of us have voting privileges, and we consider new donations as well as deaccessioning recommendations. Decisions about acquisitions stop there, but deaccessioning recommendations then pass to the full board for final approval at the next regularly scheduled meeting. We don't currently have interns, but hope to begin a program, and they would be invited to sit in on meetings, but wouldn't have votes. If it's helpful for context, at each month's meeting we typically have about 3-5 donations to consider (which are usually multiple objects each) and on average about 50-100 objects to consider for deaccessioning (we're working on a major inventory/deaccessioning project). We also discuss anything else as it relates to collections such as participating in CAP and the progress on those task recommendations or evaluating our Native American collections for exhibition or repatriation considerations.

    My previous institution is a national immigration museum and had a larger staff and volunteer pool who were all local, but the board was spread across the country. There, our collections committee consisted of myself as Registrar, our Executive Director, Curator of Exhibitions, and Archivist, plus a volunteer from the community for that perspective and voice. That committee worked the same as my current museum and considered acquisitions and deaccessions, and then deaccessions went on to the full board for final approval. All of the committee members had votes, including the volunteer. Interns could also sit in for meetings and could participate in discussions, but did not vote. We typically had about 6-8 donations to consider and depending on where we were in that inventory/deaccessioning project, a range of 10-50 objects for deaccessioning consideration.

    Hope that's helpful!


    Angela Stanford

    Advanced Museum Services

    Angela Stanford
    Independent Registrar and Collections Specialist
    Advanced Museum Services
    Indianola, Iowa

  • 7.  RE: Collections Committee Membership

    Posted 28 days ago

    Our institution's Collections Committee is made up of the full time collections/curatorial staff (2), our Executive Director, 2 board members, 3 area professionals in the museum field and a community member.

    If I could select who was on it, I would have it structured with other museum collections folks since that is what the staff focus is currently. We have spent a lot of time educating our committee and getting them all on the same page about needs and goals. Especially since our collections committee's largest responsibility is to collections stewardship and deaccessions approval.

    Chloe Willett
    Exhibition Coordinator
    American Jazz Museum
    Kansas City MO