Bath & North East Somerset Council
Cllr Terry Gazzard, Cabinet Member for Development and Major Projects
On or after 2nd October 2010
De-accessioning of museum objects from the Fashion Museum's collections
EXECUTIVE FORWARD PLAN REFERENCE:
AN OPEN PUBLIC ITEM
List of attachments to this report:
Appendix A: Fashion Museum items for de-accessioning.
1 THE ISSUE
1.1 The report proposes the de-accessioning from the Fashion Museum's records of objects that fall outside the museums' approved collecting policies and whose public benefit would be better served by being in other public museums or archives, or that have long since disappeared or been transferred elsewhere. Under the national Accreditation Scheme for Museums, the authority of the governing body is required if museum objects are to be de-accessioned, i.e. removed from the museum's register of publicly-owned collections.
The Cabinet member is asked to agree that:
2.1 The collections listed in Appendix A be removed from the accession records of the Fashion Museum.
3 FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS
3.1 There are no direct or immediate financial implications to this report. Rationalisation of collections and their associated documentation leads to more efficient use of resources. Any necessary documentation will be undertaken within existing resources. Any cost of the conservation, handling and transport of items transferred to other museums will be borne by the recipient institution. In line with the Accreditation guidelines adopted by the Council, any remuneration received from the sale of objects - once all other avenues of disposal have been tried - will be solely and directly applied to the benefit of other museum collections held by the Council.
4 CORPORATE PRIORITIES
4.1 The recommendation does not contribute directly to any one of the Council's eight Corporate Priorities. However it will lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness.
5 THE REPORT
5.1 The Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Accreditation Scheme sets nationally agreed standards for UK museums. The Council's museums enjoy Full Accreditation status with MLA. Best practice in the Museums sector is to have a policy setting out the rationale for collecting, holding and, where it can be justified, disposing of collections in public ownership. This Council has had such a policy since its creation in 1996.
5.2 It is a requirement of the Accreditation Scheme that a governing body should approve any proposals to dispose of collections or de-accession objects that the museum no longer holds. Governing body approval ensures objectivity, protects the public interest and ensures that curators do not act alone in these matters.
5.3 This report recommends rationalising the collections of the Fashion Museum by disposing of and / or de-accessioning objects. The recommendation is in line with the best practice set out in the Council's Collections Management and Acquisitions & Disposals policies and the standards set out in the UK Museums Accreditation Scheme. None of the objects is tied by a condition of donation that requires their retention in Bath in perpetuity.
5.4 The de-accessioning process has involved a thorough review of the status of a much larger group of objects than those finally selected for de-accessioning, and has clarified the legal status and title of many objects brought together to form the original Fashion Museum collection. This has improved the quality of records relating to many objects retained in the wider collection.
6 RISK MANAGEMENT
6.1 A risk assessment has been undertaken. The report author and Cabinet member have fully reviewed the risks related to the issue and recommendations, in compliance with the Council's decision making risk management guidance.
7.1 An Equalities Impact Assessment on the Service's Collections Management Policy including acquisitions and disposals was prepared in 2008. No issues were identified that were relevant to the objects recommended for disposal and de-accessioning.
8.1 The rationale for de-accessioning the objects listed in Appendix A is that following a review of collections held by the Fashion Museum some of the objects do not fit into the Council's agreed acquisitions policy and more properly belong in public collections elsewhere; some are not of museum quality or are in such poor condition that they do not merit retention and some have long since disappeared and are no longer held by the museum.
8.2 These disposals will save officer time, conservation resources and storage space and are in line with the Code of Ethics for Museums adopted by this Council and with national best practice.
9 OTHER OPTIONS CONSIDERED
9.1 Another option would be to try to sell the items in question. However this would be unlikely to yield any significant sums and, to abide by the Code of Ethics for Museums, a sale could only take place when all other avenues of enquiry into disposal had been exhausted. The proceeds of any such sale would have to be applied to the acquisition of new and relevant items for the collection, or to the care of the remaining existing collection.
9.2 This option would contravene the Code of Ethics for Museums adopted by the Council; it could lose the Fashion Museum, Victoria Art Gallery and Roman Baths Museum their Accredited status and the Fashion Museum and Roman Baths Museum their Designated status; and it would bring the Council into disrepute and discourage future benefactors from donating objects to the Council's museums. This course of action is therefore not recommended.
10.1 A draft of this report has been sent for comment to Abbey Ward Councillors; the Cabinet Member for Development and Major Projects; the Chair of the Enterprise and Economic Development Overview & Scrutiny Panel; Staff; the Heritage Services Focus Group; Chair of the West of England Costume Society; Section 151 Finance Officer; Monitoring Officer.
10.2 Consultation was carried out in person, by telephone or by e-mail.
11 ISSUES TO CONSIDER IN REACHING THE DECISION
11.1 Customer Focus; Impact on Staff.
12 ADVICE SOUGHT
12.1 The Council's Monitoring Officer (Council Solicitor) and Section 151 Officer (Divisional Director - Finance) have had the opportunity to input to this report and have cleared it for publication.
Stephen Bird, Head of Heritage Services (01225) 477750
De-accessioning of museum objects from the Victoria Art Gallery and Fashion Museum collections (Cabinet Member for Development and Major Projects decision, August 2009)
Disposal Toolkit (Museums Association 2008)
Revised Museums and Archives Collections Management and Acquisition and Disposal Policies (Executive Member for Tourism Leisure & Culture decision, July 2005)
Accreditation Standard (Museums Libraries & Archives Council 2004)
Museums Association Code of Ethics for Museums: (Executive Member for Tourism Leisure & Culture decision, September 2002)
Code of Ethics for Museums (Museums Association 2002)
Please contact the report author if you need to access this report in an alternative format
Objects for de-accession from the Fashion Museum collection.
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