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Rogers Historical Museum  

Collections Management Policy

Approved: 7 April 1988
Revised: 5 October 1989, 7 June 1990, 7 July 1994, 6 January 2005

MISSION STATEMENT

Approved September 2, 2010

The Rogers Historical Museum serves Rogers and all of Northwest Arkansas, a rapidly growing metropolitan area that shares a rich natural and cultural heritage, a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, and an increasingly diverse population.

Our mission is to enrich lives through education, experience, and exploration of our heritage.

We fulfill that mission through:
  • Collecting and preserving artifacts, archival materials, and research materials which document the history and cultural heritage of Rogers and Benton County
  • Offering exhibitions, programs, publications, and web-based resources which foster an appreciation of our region’s heritage and enable area residents to create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities
  • Offering family-friendly exhibitions and programs which allow people of all ages to engage the past, imagine the future, and find joy in learning
  • Offering loan exhibitions and related programs which broaden the cultural horizons of area residents and help place our region’s natural and cultural heritage in a broader context
     

COLLECTION TYPES

The Museum shall maintain five types of collections (the “collections”) which shall be used for research, education, and/or exhibition purposes. The Permanent Collection shall consist primarily of accessioned Benton County-related historical materials. The Teaching Collection shall consist of reproductions, objects without historical documentation or significance, or other hands-on materials. The Image Collection shall consist of modern or reproduction prints, slides, PMTs, CDs, DVDs, videos, digital images, or negatives. The Research Collection shall consist of actual or reproduction books, journals, newspaper articles, maps, and manuscripts. The Museum Archives shall consist of brochures, newsletters, posters, documents, and memorabilia relating to the history of the Museum.

All collecting activities shall be guided by the acquisition criteria, scope, and priorities outlined in the Collections Management Policy (the “Policy”).

The Museum shall encourage and carry out research significant to the collections and shall provide information to the general public by the development and presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational programs, and the web site.

The Rogers Historical Commission (the “Commission”) has “the authority to operate, manage, maintain, and control said museum and to have full and complete charge there of” as stated in the Rogers Historical Museum By-laws. The Museum director shall work on the Commission’s behalf to maintain the Museum.

ETHICS


Staff and Commissioners shall subscribe to the Rogers Historical Museum Ethical Guidelines. No staff member or Commissioner shall use their position at the Museum for personal gain or to benefit another at the expense of the Museum, its mission, its reputation, and the society it serves. Additional guidelines regarding governance, conflict of interest, ownership of scholarly materials, outside employment, political activities, equal opportunity, etc., are detailed in the Ethical Guidelines.

PERSONAL COLLECTING


Neither staff nor Museum Commissioners shall compete with the Museum in any personal collecting. The Museum’s collecting interests are detailed in the “Acquisition Priorities for the Permanent Collection” section of this Policy. Staff and Commissioners shall use their best judgement in determining whether or not an object is currently collected by the Museum, in consultation with the director and/or the curator of collections.

If such an object comes to the attention of staff or Commissioners, either through sale or possible gift, the Museum shall be informed of its availability and shall have the first chance to accept or reject it. If such an object is purchased by staff or Commissioners, it shall be offered to the Museum at purchase price. Objects collected prior to an individual’s association with the Museum, bequests, or gifts of a personal nature shall be exempt from this policy.

Staff or Commissioners may not participate in any dealing in objects similar to those objects collected by the Museum. For the purposes of this Policy, a dealer is defined as someone who buys and sells objects for profit on a regular basis.

CAPITALIZATION OF THE PERMANENT COLLECTION

It is the policy of the Museum that its Permanent Collection not be capitalized. The Permanent Collection meets the requirements of the Government Accounting Standards Board in that museum collections do not need to be capitalized as are other financial assets so long as: they are held for public exhibition, education, or research in furtherance of public service rather than financial gain; are protected, kept unencumbered, cared for, and preserved; and are subject to an organizational policy that requires proceeds from the sale of collections items be used to acquire other items for the collections. Furthermore, current museum ethical standards strongly discourage the capitalization of collections or treating them as financial assets.

ACQUISITION CRITERIA


The Museum shall acquire objects through gifts, bequests, purchases, or exchanges in conjunction with the following essential criteria.

1. The object shall be consistent with the mission and acquisition priorities of the Museum.
2. The Museum must be able to give proper care to the object.
3. Acceptance of the object shall not result in major expense for conservation disproportionate to the usefulness of the object to the collections.
4. The present owner shall have a clear title of ownership and shall have obtained the object legally and ethically.
5. If the object is for sale, staff shall arrange funding before purchase, with a fair market value determined between the parties.
6. The object shall, if possible, be documented with adequate historic information.
7. Current Federal tax law shall be followed regarding all charitable contributions.
8. Donations shall be made without restrictions or encumbrances; however, copyright may or may not be transferred at the time of gift.

When an object has successfully fulfilled the acquisition criteria, the director and/or the curator of collections have the authority to accept objects on behalf of the Museum. If the object is extraordinarily significant for any reason (e.g., a bequest, a structure), the director shall seek acquisition approval from the Commission.

The director or curator of collections shall sign the Deed of Gift on behalf of the Museum. The curator of collections shall follow all accession procedures outlined in the Collections Procedures Manual and shall be responsible for maintaining all records pertinent to the collections.

ACQUISITION PRIORITIES FOR THE PERMANENT COLLECTION


Limitations of space and of qualified staff for the care and study of objects shall be considered in conjunction with all acquisition priorities for the Permanent Collection. Additional guidelines concerning the content of current collections and recommendations for future collecting are detailed in the Permanent Collection Collecting Plan.

The first priority shall be to collect those objects and their accompanying data which strengthen existing collections in which the Museum has a current specialization and recognized historical interest, especially when these areas are threatened irreversibly by human activities, threatened by inflation in value, threatened by disappearance by collectors in the private sector, or any other reason which might make collection difficult, not feasible, or impossible at a later date. Examples of the first priority include:

1. Objects of direct use in present or future planned research, exhibition, or interpretive programs.
2. Objects of high quality needed to fill gaps in the collection.
3. Objects of historical interest where deterioration, technological changes, expanding urbanization, industrialization, cultivation, or other types of land use place a time limit on the period in which the collection of objects and data can take place.

The second priority shall be to collect those objects which broaden the comparative base of the established areas and which will strengthen a collection area immediately adjacent to a previously established one.

The third priority shall be to collect those objects of a general nature which are within the broad interest of the Museum and those objects needed for a specific project or exhibition which may not be directly related to the existing collections but are consistent with the acquisition criteria, scope, and priorities outlined in this Policy.

Geographical Scope

The Museum shall restrict its collecting to historical objects associated with Benton County, Arkansas. Objects shall have been made or primarily used in Benton County or purchased therein.

There shall be two exceptions to this geographical limitation. The first exception shall be in the case of objects which may have a secondary connection to Benton County; in this instance, non-County objects may be collected as long as they are associated with a prominent, long-time resident, business, or organization and are deemed necessary to illustrate this person’s life story or the history of a business or organization. The second exception shall be in the case of furniture and household goods needed for display in the Museum’s 1895 Hawkins House; in this instance, non-Benton County objects may be collected as long as they are consistent with items commonly found in middle-class homes in Northwest Arkansas at the turn of the 20th century and are deemed necessary to illustrate the Hawkins House story.

Temporal Scope


The Museum collects historical objects from 1819, when the Arkansas Territory was formed, to the present. Exceptions may be made for historic pre-1819 objects with strong ties to Benton County.

ACQUISITION SCOPE FOR THE TEACHING, IMAGE, AND RESEARCH COLLECTIONS AND THE MUSEUM ARCHIVES

Limitations of space and of qualified staff for the care of objects shall be considered in conjunction with all acquisitions for the Teaching, Image, and Research Collections and the Museum Archives.

Teaching Collection

The Teaching Collection shall consist of objects which are either reproductions, duplicates of objects in the Permanent Collection, or objects without historical documentation or significance that have been deaccessioned from the Permanent Collection. It shall also consist of objects which meet the Museum’s mission but do not fulfill the acquisition criteria. Items accepted into the Teaching Collection shall be consistent with the collecting priorities of the Museum and meet current educational programming needs, but they need not necessarily be from Benton County.

Image Collection


The Image Collection shall consist of modern or reproduction prints, slides, PMTs, CDs, DVDs, videos, digital images, or negatives either created by Museum staff or their representatives, donated to the Museum, or deaccessioned from the Permanent Collection. Items accepted into the Image Collection shall be associated with Benton County history or with the Museum and its activities.

Research Collection


The Research Collection shall consist of actual or reproduction books, journals, newspaper articles, maps, documents, and manuscripts. Items accepted into the Research Collection shall provide information about Benton County history and its environs, reflect regional and national historical events or cultural influences that have impacted Benton County, or offer information about historical collectibles consistent with the collecting priorities of the Museum.

Museum Archives


The Museum Archives shall consist of posters, brochures, programs, records, architectural models, and memorabilia relating to the history of the Museum.

DEACCESSION OF OBJECTS

It is intended that all objects accessioned by the Museum shall be maintained permanently in the collections as long as they retain their physical integrity, their authenticity, and their relevance for the purposes of the Museum, and as long as they can be properly housed and maintained. The deaccession process, therefore, shall be cautious, deliberate, and scrupulous. Objects considered for deaccession shall have been in the Museum’s collections for at least two years, with the exception of criteria #11, and shall meet at least one of the criteria for deaccessioning.

Criteria for Deaccessioning


1. The object is outside the current mission of the Museum and its acquisition policy.
2. The object is inferior or insignificant in aesthetic quality.
3. The object has failed to retain its identity or authenticity.
4. The object has been lost or stolen and remains so for longer than five years.
5. The Museum is unable to preserve the object properly.
6. The object has deteriorated beyond usefulness.
7. The object has doubtful potential utilization in the foreseeable future.
8. The object has been accessioned twice.
9. The object’s donor is found to have not been its legal owner at the time of donation.
10. The object is considered redundant to object(s) already in the collection.
11. The object was accessioned in error.

Before any object is recommended for deaccessioning, the Museum shall establish clear and unrestricted title to the object (except in #9 above). Title shall consist of a signed deed of gift and/or an unqualified offer, acceptance, and transfer of property.

The curator of collections shall recommend in writing to the director the deaccessioning of an object if, in the curator of collections’ best judgement, one or more criteria for deaccession has been met. The written recommendation shall specify the source of the object, the reason(s) for deaccessioning, the estimated market value (if applicable or available), and the recommended means of disposition as listed in the “Methods of Dispersal” section of this Policy.

The recommendation shall require approval first by the director and then by a majority vote of the Commission. Consideration may be given to any ethical or political implications of the proposed action.

Methods of Dispersal


These methods are not ranked in order of preference; any method may be applied as long as it is deemed the most appropriate one given the nature of the object and the general interests of the public.

1. An object may be placed through gift or exchange in another tax-exempt public institution, preferably in Arkansas.
2. An object may be placed into the Museum’s Teaching, Image, or Research Collections, or in the Museum Archives.
3. An object may be offered back to the original donor if it can be considered to have sentimental properties (e.g., family Bible, military uniform).
4. An object may be sold by private or public sale, as recommended by the Commission. However, an object shall not be given, sold, or otherwise transferred, publicly or privately, to Museum employees, Commissioners, Friends of the Museum board members, or their families or representatives.
5. An object may be donated to a charitable institution (e.g., a thrift store) if its intrinsic or monetary value is so low as to make burdensome the effort of finding an institutional home for it or offering it for sale.
6. An object may be destroyed if it is significantly deteriorated and if no further use for it can be found. The Museum shall follow the practice of “witness destruction,” in which one staff member witnesses another staff member’s destruction of an object.
7. An object may be transferred to its legal owner(s) should the legality of the donation be contested and non-Museum ownership sufficiently proved. The Museum may act as the repository for the object while its true ownership is determined.

The curator of collections shall follow all deaccession procedures as outlined in the Collections Procedures Manual and shall be responsible for maintaining all records pertinent to the collections. The curator of collections shall also maintain a complete and current list of objects which have been deaccessioned. This list may be distributed in response to any responsible inquiry at the director’s discretion.

As a courtesy, the Museum shall attempt to notify the donor of a deaccession if the object was accessioned within the last ten years. This notification is not to be construed as a request for permission to deaccession.

In compliance with the American Association of Museums’ Code of Ethics, proceeds from the sale of collections shall go only to the acquisition of new collections or for the direct care of existing collections.

CARE OF COLLECTIONS


The Museum maintains five types of collections: Permanent, Teaching, Image, and Research Collections and Museum Archives. The curator of collections shall maintain accession and deaccession records which shall contain Deeds of Gift, correspondence, historical information, and other relevant documents for the collections. Records shall be made in a timely manner, housed in secure locations, and physically preserved by proper handling and storage methods. The curator of collections shall maintain records that are complete, accurate, orderly, retrievable, and current. A duplicate copy of all records shall be maintained and stored separately (off-site) from their originals.

The curator of collections shall be responsible for monitoring and adequately maintaining all collections storage and exhibition areas. Such efforts shall be documented through a variety of means including environmental records, inventories, photographs, and storage check-out logs.

Permanent Collection


Museum staff shall be responsible for the preservation and protection of the Permanent Collection in accordance with current professionally accepted methods including the maintenance of proper storage environments, the use of archivally safe storage materials, and the practice of recommended object-specific storage techniques.

A comprehensive inventory shall be taken annually of the Hawkins House and biannually of the Museum’s collections storage areas at the Key Wing and the Museum Annex, accompanied by a condition inspection of the objects. Any object showing signs of instability or recent damage shall be noted and a remedy sought, if possible. Spot inventories of the Museum’s more significant collections (i.e., those objects that are considered local historical “treasures” and/or have a high monetary value) shall be taken annually. Additional guidelines regarding the management of the Permanent Collection are detailed in the Collections Procedures Manual.

The objects in the Permanent Collection shall be adequately covered by insurance. For purposes of valuation, the curator of collections shall seek comparable valuations from local, regional, and national sources and may, if warranted, seek the assistance of a qualified appraiser. Valuations shall be updated as need, time, and budget allow. The curator of collections shall be responsible for monitoring insurance coverage. All proceeds from insurance payments resulting from claims due to damaged or lost collections shall go only to the acquisition of new collections or for the direct care of existing collections.

The Permanent Collection shall be used for research and exhibition purposes by Museum staff, qualified museums, and sanctioned researchers.

Teaching Collection


Museum staff, their authorized representatives, and sanctioned educators or other non-profit organization leaders shall be responsible for the protection of the Teaching Collection. The Teaching Collection shall receive adequate maintenance; however, because of the purpose of the Collection, the objects in it are subject to wear and tear. The Teaching Collection shall be housed in suitable materials that offer protection and which may or may not be archivally safe.

A comprehensive inventory of the Teaching Collection shall be undertaken annually, along with a condition inspection. Any object that has deteriorated or has been damaged beyond usefulness shall be disposed of. Additional guidelines regarding the management of the Teaching Collection are detailed in the Teaching Collection and Prop Materials Manual.

The Teaching Collection shall be used for education and exhibition purposes by Museum staff, their authorized representatives, and sanctioned educators or other non-profit organization leaders.

Image Collection


Museum staff shall be responsible for the preservation and protection of the Image Collection. The Image Collection shall be housed in archivally safe materials whenever possible. It shall be used for publication, education, and exhibition purposes by Museum staff, qualified museums, and sanctioned researchers.

Research Collection

Museum staff, volunteers, and sanctioned researchers shall be responsible for the protection of the Research Collection. The Research Collection shall be housed in vertical files and on shelves. It shall be used for research purposes by Museum staff and sanctioned researchers.

Museum Archives


Museum staff shall be responsible for the preservation and protection of the Museum Archives. An inventory shall be undertaken annually. The Museum Archives shall be housed in archivally safe materials. It shall be used for research and exhibition purposes by Museum staff.

CONSERVATION


The Museum holds and cares for all objects as a public trust and is committed to the standards set by the American Institute for Conservation. The authority for collections care is vested in the director and the curator of collections.

The curator of collections shall determine, either through routine monitoring, exhibit production, or accidental damage, which objects may need professional conservation treatment and inform the director. Objects in need of treatment shall be assessed and an appropriate time for conservation determined, considering a combination of need, budgetary allowances, and the availability of a qualified conservator. All treatments shall be properly documented and treatment records maintained by the curator of collections.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

Museum staff and, to some degree, volunteers are responsible for the security of the Museum and its collections, and for the safety of staff, volunteers, and visitors. The curator of collections is responsible for safety and security at the Museum. Additional guidelines regarding buildings, collections, and personnel safety, as well as emergency procedures covering fire, theft, injury, and inclement weather, are detailed in the Emergency Preparedness Plan.

LOANS


Loans of Museum objects shall be consistent with the Museum’s Conditions Governing Loans. These conditions shall be met in writing before any objects may be loaned. The curator of collections, in consultation with the director, shall be responsible for authorizing loans of objects and maintaining all records pertinent to the loans. If there are any unusual circumstances concerning the conditions of a loan, the decision to loan shall be referred to the director.

As deemed necessary by the curator of collections, outgoing loans shall be covered by insurance (e.g., wall-to-wall, transit), and the coverage shall be carried by the borrower or the Museum. Incoming loans shall be insured by the Museum, if requested, as specified by the loaning institution. Insurance coverage to be carried by the Museum shall be arranged by the curator of collections or the assistant director.

All loan transactions shall be processed through the curator of collections or the assistant director, who shall be responsible for proper and legal documentation, insurance coverage, and packing and shipping arrangements. The curator of collections shall monitor all loans.

The Museum will not normally accept long-term or “permanent” loans from individuals or institutions. Loans of this type can cost the Museum greatly in terms of maintenance, time, insurance, and space. A long-term loan shall be considered if the object is needed for special exhibition or research purposes. The director has the authority to approve such a loan.

OBJECTS PLACED IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MUSEUM


Objects temporarily deposited with the Museum for whatever purpose shall be subject to all conditions specified on the Temporary Deposit Receipt unless otherwise noted. A staff member shall sign the Receipt on behalf of the Museum. Additional guidelines regarding objects placed in the custody of the Museum are detailed in the Checklist for Incoming Donations.

ACCESS TO AND USE OF COLLECTIONS


The Museum welcomes study of its collections by qualified individuals for research and other generally beneficial purposes, taking into account the following conditions:

1. The curator of collections shall receive a written request to study a collection at least two weeks (10 working days) prior to the time the collection is to be studied. The request shall outline the goals and methods of the research and include the credentials of the researcher. The curator of collections, in consultation with the director, shall determine whether access to the collections shall be granted and shall inform the researcher in writing.
2. Research space shall be made available.
3. The researcher shall agree to meet all imposed conditions deemed necessary for the protection of collection materials.
4. Copying and photography costs shall be borne by the researcher.
5. The researcher shall give the Museum copies of papers or publications which result from the study of its collections.
6. The curator of collections or the director may waive any of the above conditions if it is in the best interest of the Museum to do so.

COPYRIGHT & REPRODUCTION


In policy and in practice, the Museum shall follow U.S. copyright law incorporated in Title 17 of the U.S. Code, as well as all subsequent legislation pertaining to copyright and other issues of intellectual property. Additional guidelines regarding copyright and reproduction issues are detailed in the Copyright Guidelines manual and the Policy on Images.

COLLECTION POLICY REVISIONS AND AMENDMENTS


Revision and amendments shall be made at any time by approval of the director and a majority of the Commission. The policy shall be reviewed at least every five years by the director and the Commission. Any necessary revisions shall be made at that time.
 

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