Management of heritage collections in local museums and art galleries.

Accession record – A formal record of an object’s acceptance into the permanent collection of a museum or art gallery, along with the associated responsibilities for security and care. The process of accessioning involves assigning a unique number to the object, along with other details, to allow the museum or art gallery to connect the object to its documentation. An accession record will normally include the accession number, date and nature of acquisition, source, brief identification and description, condition, provenance, and value.

Acquisition – The process by which legal title to an object is transferred to the museum or art gallery. Acquisition may be by purchase, donation, gift, bequest, collection by staff, or other channels.

Archives – The records of individuals or organisations preserved because of their continuing value.

Cataloguing – The creation of a full, detailed record of information about an object that shows the object’s significance in the collection and is cross-referenced to other records and files.

Collection – A group of objects acquired, documented, stored, and conserved because of their historic, cultural, or educational significance.

Collection management – All activities related to the care of the collection, from the time an object is acquired until its disposal. It encompasses the body of museum practices and procedures relating to acquisition, documentation, care, preservation, security, loan, and disposal.

Condition report – A formal record of an object’s condition on a specific date. It is a vital component of object documentation, serving as a tool to evaluate the effect of use and wear over time.

Conservation – The technical examination, care, and treatment of objects or art works, including the study of the environment in which they are displayed or stored.

Conservator – A person competent to undertake the technical examination, preservation, conservation, and restoration of cultural property. A conservator ensures the long-term preservation of art and artefacts by preserving and repairing damage and deterioration. Care of art and artefacts includes environmental preservation, storage, display, handling, and transportation. Conservators play an important role in monitoring and advising on environmental controls, assessing the condition of objects for exhibition and for loan, and providing training in the handling of objects and other aspects of collection care.

Curators – Curators have a wide range of duties. They are responsible for directing the acquisition, storage, loan, and exhibition of collections within their specialist fields, such as natural history or archives. They are also responsible for authenticating, evaluating, and categorising the objects in a collection, as well as overseeing and conducting research and educational programmes, fund-raising, and promotion.

De-accessioning – The process used to remove an item permanently from the record of objects in a museum or art gallery collection, usually through return to the donor, sale, exchange, or gift to another museum.

Facilities report – A site report received from a prospective borrower before a loan is approved. It should include details of handling and security in transit, arrangements for environmental controls, and systems to ensure the security and proper care of the loaned objects at the exhibition site and in temporary storage.

Finding aids – Indexes, registers, guides, inventories, lists, and other media designed to lead archives staff and other users to information about objects in the collection.

Māori taonga – In this context, a possession treasured by Māori.

Preventive conservation – All actions designed to slow the deterioration of, or address risks of damage to, objects or art works. Preventive conservation seeks to stabilise the condition of the object through effective control of the environment, safe handling and display techniques, appropriate storage, pest control, security, and emergency planning.

Provenance – The origin, source, and full history of an object from the time of its discovery or creation to the present day, from which authenticity and ownership are determined.

Registration – The process of assigning a unique identity to an object in the permanent collection or in temporary custody, and documenting that object.

Registry – In a museum or art gallery the registration function is concerned with the logical organisation of documentation about the collection, and maintenance of access to that information. Registry staff are assigned specific responsibility for maintaining records about objects in the collection. The registry carries out a variety of administrative tasks such as accessioning new acquisitions, preparing loan documentation, and carrying out collection inventories.

Relative humidity – A measure of the proportion of humidity in the air. As this proportion changes with temperature, these 2 measurements are usually considered together.

Stewardship – The obligations and responsibilities associated with the management of all objects entrusted to the care of the museum.

Thermohygrograph – A scientific instrument that records temperature and relative humidity over a period of time, usually daily or weekly.

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