Museum Collection Policy



1.1  Purpose

1.2  Mission Statement


2.1  Collection Goals

2.2  Museum Collection



4.1  Preservation of the Collection

4.2  Environment

4.3  Conservation and Restoration


5.1  Purpose

5.2  Public Access

5.3  Credit

5.4  Copyright and Reproduction Rights


6.1  Methods of Acquisition

6.2  Criteria of Evaluation

6.3  Provenance

6.4  Sacred Objects and Skeletal Materials

6.5  Declaration of Gift

6.6  Authority

6.7  Registration

6.8  Bequests

6.9  Purchases

6.10 Exchange/Transaction with Other Museums


7.1  Appraisals by Staff


8.1  Criteria for Refusal

8.2  Return


9.1  Deaccessioning

9.2  Authority

9.3  Responsibility

9.4  Criteria for Deaccessioning Objects

9.5  Procedure

9.6  Two-Year Requirement

9.7  Return to Donor

10    LOANS

10.1 Incoming Loans

10.2 Insurance

10.3 Outgoing Loans


11.1 Subscription to AAM Code

11.2 Governance

11.3 Collection

11.4 Programs



1.1          Purpose

The purpose of the Museum Collection Policy is to define the scope of the Van Buren Public Library’s museum collection, to describe the process by which objects may be acquired and removed, and to establish guidelines for the care and the use of objects through exhibit or interpretive programs.  Standards are necessary to assure a consistent policy for the collection, exhibition, and preservation of collection items.

1.2          Mission Statement

Van Buren Public Library is located in Van Buren, Indiana.  The Museum is a service of the Library.  The Library’s Museum exists to preserve and make available, primarily through objects, knowledge of life within Van Buren and Grant County, Indiana.


2.1        Collection Goals

Collection is one of the primary purposes of the Museum.  Consistent with the mission of the Library’s Museum, objects of material culture and natural history pertinent by use, association, or production to Van Buren and Grant County’s history and development will be collected.  Objects will be acquired from the prehistoric period to the present.  The Museum collection will include but be limited to items of historical significance and may include curiosities if related to Van Buren and Grant County’s history.

2.2        Museum Collection

The Museum Collection is comprised of:  a) permanent objects which are original, rare, and generally irreplaceable, and 2) educational resource objects which are duplicate, worn, or reproductions for use in interpretative programs and demonstrations.

Local history books, manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, journals, records, and other written and printed materials; photographic or printed images; tapes, recordings, and other oral history materials may be included in the Museum Collection.


Accession:  The formal process used to accept and record an object as a collection item.

Artifact:  The term artifact refers to any man-made or man-altered object acquired for the collection.

Collection:  For the purpose of this policy the term collection refers to those objects belonging to the Museum which may be used in accurately portraying the life and times of Van Buren and Grant County.

Cultural Property:  Property which, on religious or secular grounds, is designated by a nation as being of unique importance to the nation for reasons relating to archaeology, prehistory, history, literature, art, or science

Deaccession:  The formal process used to permanently remove an object from the collection.

Lender:  A person whose name appears on the records of a museum as the person legally entitled to, or claiming to be legally entitled to, property held by the Museum.

Loan:  Temporary transfer of collection items from the Museum, or temporary transfer of similar items to the Museum, for stated museum purposes.  This transfer does not involve a change in ownership.

Object:  A material, three-dimensional item of any kind.

Provenance:  The background and history of ownership of an object.

Reproductions:  Reproductions are defined as modern copies or likenesses, in varying degrees of detail, of historical artifacts.  All reproductions are educational resource collection items.  They are accessioned for inventory and insurance purposes, but since they are created and obtained primarily to be used, they are treated differently from artifacts in the collection.


4.1        Preservation of the Collection

Van Buren Public Library regards the preservation and conservation of its Museum collection as a matter of utmost importance.  It is the intention of the Library to minimize permanent damage and loss of non-renewable artifacts while still pursuing the educational advantages of interpretation.

4.2        Environment

The Library shall provide for its Museum Collection, and those objects left in its care, a clean, safe, and stable storage environment suitable for the maintenance of the physical integrity of the artifacts.  Accordingly, appropriate conditions will be set for exhibition.

4.3        Conservation and Restoration

In general, the Museum shall preserve objects in the condition they were in at the time of acquisition and not necessarily assume responsibility to restore objects to like-new condition.


5.1        Purpose

The Library maintains its Museum Collection for public recreation, information, and education.  The collection shall not be maintained or used primarily for commercial or decorative purposes.

5.2        Public Access

The collection shall be made available to the general public through museum exhibits, response to inquiries, identifications, publications, educational programs, and arrangaed trous of the collection both on premises and off premises.  Collection care requirements may constrain access to the collection.

5.3        Credit

Any outside researcher using the Museum Collection must agree to give proper credit to the Library.

5.4        Copyright and Reproduction Rights

The Library shall maintain sole control for copyright and other reproduction rights of all items accessioned and whose rights have been transferred to the Library.  The Library may transfer or assign reproduction rights and may require a credit line with each such use.


6.1        Methods of Acquisition

Acquisitions to the Museum Collection may be made by gift, bequest, purchase, exchange, field collection, and abandonment.

6.2        Criteria of Evaluation

6.2.1     Goals, Use

Acquisition must be relevant and consistent with the purpose and collection goals of the Museum, specifically the history of Van Buren and Grant County, and surrounding area.

6.2.2     Physical Aspects

The Library must be able to provide proper storage, protection, and preservation of items without major expense.

The item must be in such a condition that restoration costs do not exceed exhibit value.  Its physical size must be compatible with the building.

It must be an item which can be cared for curatorially.

6.3        Provenance

Provenance of the items proposed for acquisition must be established.  No materials or objects shall be knowingly accepted or acquired which are known to have been illegally collected in or outside the United States contrary to state law, federal law, regulation, treaty, and/or convention.

6.3.1     Cultural Property

The Library will only accept cultural artifacts accompanied by complete and legal provenances.  All archaeological and cultural objects must be accompanied by documents reflecting place of origin, history of ownership, purchase, sale, or gift and, if imported, satisfactory evidence that exportation was not in violation of laws of the exporting country or country of origin.  The Library endorses the 1970 UNESCO Convention and other applicable antiquities statutes that prohibit “the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property.”

6.4        Sacred Objects and Skeletal Materials

The Library does not choose to collect human skeletal remains in compliance with the wishes of the Native American/First Peoples Community.  The Library will consult with appropriate persons or groups regarding the sensitive exhibition of the sacred objects of any culture.

6.5        Declaration of Gift

The Library shall acquire title to acquisitions without any encumbrances or restrictions.  This is to be accomplished by the signing of a Declaration of Gift form by both the donor and staff.  The original copy becomes part of the permanent records of the Library and a duplicate copy, the record of the donor.  Title to the acquisition shall not be complete until the Library acquires a signed Declaration of Gift form.

6.6        Authority

Final authority to acquire objects for the Museum Collection lies with the Van Buren Public Library Board of Trustees.

6.7        Registration

When an object is accepted into the Museum Collection, it will be registered using the museum numbering system, comprised of year, gift, and item, e.g., 2009-4-1.

6.8        Bequests

Acquisition by bequest for the Museum Collection shall meet the same criteria as those for acquisition by gift.  A copy of the will or pertinent portion thereof, shall be obtained from the estate so the nature of the gift can be verified.  Based on established criteria for accessioning, the Library may accept all, part, or none of the bequest.  The executor of the estate shall be promptly notified of the Library’s decision.  Authority to accept property and sign forms in relation to bequests shall rest with the Board of Trustees.

6.9        Purchases

Acquisitions by  purchase must have approval by the Board of Trustees.

6.10      Exchange/Transaction with Other Museums

6.10.1   Criteria

Items for acquisition through an exchange or transaction with another museum must meet the same criteria as those for acquisition by gift.

6.10.2   Deaccession

Exchange may only be accomplished with those objects which have been deaccessioned.

6.10.3   Gifts Not Accessioned

Objects given to the Library for the Museum Collection, but not accessioned because of relevancy, size, etc. may be given to other museums where the artifact is relevant or can be given proper storage, protection, and preservation.  Donor shall be appraised of intended use.


7.1        Appraisals by Staff

Acquisitions shall not be appraised by staff or the Board of Trustees.  Impartial assistance may be offered to donors by providing lists of independent, qualified appraisers.


8.1        Criteria for Refusal

The object does not meet acquisition criteria.

The Museum has multiple or sufficient number of the object.

The object’s use is limited based on restrictions from copyrights, patents, trademarks, donor, or other restrictions.

8.2        Return

Objects refused will be returned to the potential donor with a letter of regret.


9.1        Deaccessioning

An object will remain in the collection as long as it retains its physical integrity, identity, and authenticity, and as long as it remains useful in enabling the Museum to fulfill its mission.

The Library reserves the right to remove any object from the Museum Collection.  Methods for deaccessioning may include, but are not restricted to, selling the object, transferring ownership to another museum, or discarding.  A record shall be maintained indicating disposition of deaccessioned items.  The recipient of a deaccessioned item shall sign for it.

9.2        Authority

The object can be deaccessioned based on the recommendation of the Library Director with final approval by the Board of Trustees.

9.3        Responsibility

The Library is conscious of its responsibility to donors and mindful of its obligation to the public, and deaccessioning will take place only after serious consideration.

In accordance with applicable law, the manner of disposition shall be in the best interest of the Library, the public it serves, the public trust, and the scholarly or cultural community it represents.

9.4        Criteria for Deaccessioning Objects

The object is no longer relevant to the Museum’s purposes and/or collection goals.

The Museum does not have the ability to preserve it properly.

The object has deteriorated beyond usefulness.

The object is a duplicate.

It is doubtful that the object can be used in the foreseeable future.

The object has been lost or stolen and remains so for longer than two years.

The object is contaminated and jeopardizes other objects in the Museum Collection.

The destruction of the object has occurred and was witnessed by staff.

9.5        Procedure

Each object recommended for deaccessioning will be evaluated individually.

Items recommended for deaccessioning, and all materials and documentation associated with the items, will be presented to the Library Board for a decision.

The deaccessioned object may be dismantled and parts still salvageable retained and maintained for research, reference, or conservation.

Objects deaccessioned from the Museum Collection may be used for other Library purposes.

9.6        Two-Year Requirement

No donated dobject shall be deaccessioned for any reason for two years after the date of its accession.  (See U.S. Tax Reform Act of 1984, and current IRS Regulations.)

9.7        Return to Donor

It is not the Library’s obligation to return a deaccessioned object to the donor; however, each case will be considered on its individual merit.  As a matter of courtesy, reasonable effort will be made to notify the donor or heirs of the intent to deaccession.  If the object is returned to the donor or heirs, written documentation must be provided that the object was not declared for any tax deductions.


10.1      Incoming Loans

Items will be accepted on loan only for a specified period. The Library reserves the right to terminate a loan at any time before its expiration upon reasonable notice to the owner.

The Library shall not accept indefinite loans for unspecified periods of time.  No person shall be allowed to store collections on the Library’s premises.  The Library accepts no responsibility for items left without authorization.

10.2      Insurance

Unless otherwise indicated, the Library will insure borrowed objects on premises subject to policy terms and conditions.  The Library will not cover borrowed objects in transit.

The lender must specify a value for each object on loan for insurance purposes.  This amount must reflect a fair market value.  It is the responsibility of the lender to update this value.

If the lender elects to maintain his own insurance coverage, the Library must be supplied with a certificate of insurance naming the Library as additional insured or waiving rights of subrogation.  The Library will not be responsible for any error of deficiency in information furnished to the lender’s insurer or for any lapses in coverage.

10.3      Outgoing Loans

The Library may lend objects to qualified institutions upon receipt of reasonable written request.  The Library Board is responsible for approving or rejecting requests for loans from the Museum Collection.  After considering conservation measures, the specific duration of the loan period and any special requirement pertaining to the loan will beset.  Requirements vary according to the unique circumstances involved in each loan request.

Insurance on outgoing loans will be determined on individual cases.


11.1      Subscription to AAM Code

The Library subscribes to the American Association of Museums Code of Ethics for Museums in accordance with applicable law.

11.2      Governance

The Library considers museum governance to be a public trust.  Protection and development of the Museum Collection in accordance with the mission statement will be in the best interests of the community.

11.3      Collection

Stewardship of the Museum Collection will be performed in a manner conforming to accepted standards.

Access to the Museum Collection and related information will be permitted according to the needs of the public which is served.

No individual may borrow collection items for personal usage in homes, offices, or other places, or in any manner inconsistent with the educational goals of the Museum.

11.4      Programs

Educational programs will support the mission of the Library’s Museum and will be based on careful research.

Programs, changing exhibits, and the desire to be responsive to the concerns, interests, and needs of the community will contribute to the Library’s goal for the service of the Museum to be dynamic rather than static.