Management of heritage collections in local museums and art galleries.

Local museums and art galleries are a rich source of information about our social, cultural, and natural history, and help to build greater understanding of our heritage.

Recognising their importance to our society, and the significant amount of public funding they attract, we undertook extensive audit work during 2005 to examine how well local museums and art galleries manage heritage collections and fulfil their stewardship obligations.

Many people are involved in running and overseeing these institutions – from local authorities and other funding or governance bodies, to directors, staff, and volunteers. All of them play an important role in supporting professional management of heritage collections, and we designed this report to inform and assist them in their various roles.

Sometimes there are not enough resources for museums to do what they need to do. One of our objectives in preparing this report was to promote a better understanding of how collection management supports the core activities of a museum, and to show what resources are needed to meet the obligations of responsible stewardship.

I hope that readers will gain an appreciation of what happens behind the displays and other public spaces of their local museum and art gallery.

This report provides museum staff with an independent assessment of collection management policies and practices against recognised principles of sound collection management, illustrates good practice, and suggests ways for museums and art galleries to work more effectively as individual institutions and collectively as a sector.

I am grateful for the co-operation of the museums and art galleries that we audited, and hope they found the process useful. I would also like to thank the local authorities involved, and our project advisers.


Kevin Brady
Controller and Auditor-General

5 April 2006

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