Acquisition & Disposal Policy
The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre
Policy statement of collecting activity
This policy was approved by Spring Board of Trustees on 6th August 2010
This policy is due for review in August 2015
1. The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre’s * statement of purpose
We aspire to be a centre of excellence, enabling the community to access high quality, stimulating arts and heritage provision. We offer a space for people to meet and be inspired through a varied programme of performance, exhibitions and participatory events.
Four Key Objectives
1. Deliver a vibrant, accessible arts and heritage programme for the community, seeking opportunities to integrate arts and heritage where possible and appropriate.
2. Sustain and widen the arts and heritage audience locally and regionally.
3. Work in partnership with other organisations on projects within The Spring and the wider community.
4. Maximise future opportunities for The Spring to develop and prosper.
2. Existing collections, including the subjects or themes and the periods of time and /or geographic areas to which the collections relate
The Spring does not intend to collect or establish a museum collection. The museum** items displayed to the public in the course of its work will be loaned from Hampshire County Council, from other museums and organisations, from members of the public or by arrangement with partners. Under the terms of the Loan Agreement with Hampshire County Council, The Spring is responsible for the day to day care of the collections. The Spring does hold a local studies collection relevant to the borough of Havant. This collection does not have the status of a museum collection, but any development of this material will be made with reference to HCC and will follow the code of practice on Archives for Museums and Galleries (see section 10).
3. Criteria governing future acquisition policy including the subjects or themes, periods of time and/or geographic areas and any collections which will not be subject to further acquisition.
The Spring may from time to time acquire items to use as props in displays or for learning programmes in support of the museum’s stated mission. Such items will not have the status of museum objects or specimens and will be treated as assets of the company that may be disposed of without reference to the disposal policy. This status will be made clear to the vendor or donor before the transaction takes place. The type of collections that maybe acquired for this purpose may cover:
- Local social history items
- Local Studies material including ephemera and photographs
- Natural History material within the borough
The Spring will however uphold the procedures set out below and the Museums Association’s Code of Ethics even when acquiring items for use as props or in learning programmes that do not have the status of museum objects.
4. Limitations on collecting
The Spring recognises its responsibility, in acquiring additions to its collections, to ensure that care of collections, documentation arrangements and use of collections will meet the requirements of the Accreditation Standard. It will take into account limitations on collecting imposed by such factors as staffing, storage and care of collection arrangements.
5. Collecting policies of other museums
5.1 The Spring will take account of the collecting policies of other museums and other organisations collecting in the same or related areas or subject fields. It will consult with these organisations where conflicts of interest may arise or to define areas of specialisms, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication and waste of resources. Specific reference is made to the following museums:
- Portsmouth Museums
- Westbury Manor Museum
- ChichesterMuseum Service
Reference will be also made to relevant collecting policies of other museums on a case-by-case basis.
5.2 The Spring has a Loan Agreement and partnership with Hampshire County Council (Hampshire Museums & Art Service). Under the terms of the Loan Agreement, with The Spring provides appropriate day to day care of Hampshire collections. The Spring will not acquire items for use as props or in learning programmes that in the opinion of the museum’s professional curatorial staff would fall within the active collecting policy of Hampshire Museums & Art Service, unless prior consultation and agreement has been sought.
6. Policy review procedure
The statement will be published and reviewed from time to time, at least once every five years. The date when the policy is next due for review is August 2015. MLA Council will be notified of any changes to the Statement of Collections Activity, and the implications of any such changes for the future of existing collections.
7. Acquisitions not covered by the policy
Acquisitions outside the current stated policy will only be made in very exceptional circumstances, and then only after proper consideration by the governing body of The Spring itself, having regard to the interests of other museums.
8. Acquisition procedures
a. The Spring will exercise due diligence and make every effort not to acquire, whether by purchase, gift, bequest or exchange, any object or specimen unless the governing body or responsible officer is satisfied that the Spring can acquire a valid title to the item in question.
b. In particular, The Spring will not acquire any object or specimen unless it is satisfied that the object or specimen has not been acquired in, or exported from, its country of origin (or any intermediate country in which it may have been legally owned) in violation of that country’s laws. (For the purposes of this paragraph `country of origin’ includes the United Kingdom).
c. In accordance with the provisions of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which the UK ratified with effect from November 1 2002, and the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003, the Spring will reject any items that have been illicitly traded. The governing body will be guided by the national guidance on the responsible acquisition of cultural property issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2005.
d. So far as biological and geological material is concerned, the museum will not acquire by any direct or indirect means any specimen that has been collected, sold or otherwise transferred in contravention of any national or international wildlife protection or natural history conservation law or treaty of the United Kingdom or any other country, except with the express consent of an appropriate outside authority.
e. The museum will not acquire archaeological antiquities.
f. Any exceptions to the above clauses 8a, 8b, 8c, or 8e will only be because The Spring is either:
- acting as an externally approved repository of last resort for material of local (UK) origin; or
- acquiring an item of minor importance that lacks secure ownership history but in the best judgement of experts in the field concerned has not been illicitly traded; or
- acting with the permission of authorities with the requisite jurisdiction in the country of origin; or
- in possession of reliable documentary evidence that the item was exported from its country of origin before 1970.
In these cases the museum will be open and transparent in the way it makes decisions and will act only with the express consent of an appropriate outside authority.
g. The Spring does not hold or intend to acquire any human remains.
The museum will use the statement of principles ‘Spoliation of Works of Art during the Nazi, Holocaust and World War II period’, issued for non-national museums in 1999 by the Museums and Galleries Commission.
10. Management of archives
As the Spring holds archives, including photographs and printed ephemera, its governing body will be guided by the Code of Practice on Archives for Museums and Galleries in the United Kingdom (3rd ed., 2002).
11. Disposal procedures
a. The Spring does not possess or intend to acquire collections in its own right and will not therefore be able to legally dispose of any items from the loan collections.
b. The governing body will ensure that the disposal process from its own collections is carried out openly and with transparency.
c. By definition, the Spring has a long-term purpose and what collections it may hold in the future are in trust for society in relation to its stated objectives. The governing body therefore accepts the principle that sound curatorial reasons for disposal must be established before consideration is given to the disposal of any items in the collection.
d. The Spring will confirm that it is legally free to dispose of an item and agreements on disposal made with donors will be taken into account.
e. When disposal of a museum object is being considered, the Spring will establish if it was acquired with the aid of an external funding organisation. In such cases, any conditions attached to the original grant will be followed. This may include repayment of the original grant and a proportion of the proceeds if the item is disposed of by sale.
Motivation for disposal and method of disposal
f. When disposal is motivated by curatorial reasons the procedures outlined in paragraphs 11h-11t will be followed and the method of disposal may be by gift, sale or exchange.
g. In exceptional cases, the disposal may be motivated principally by financial reasons. The method of disposal will therefore be by sale and the procedures outlined below in paragraphs 11h-11n and 11t will be followed. In cases where disposal is motivated by financial reasons, the governing body will not undertake disposal unless it can be demonstrated that all the following exceptional circumstances are met in full:
- the disposal will significantly improve the long-term public benefit derived from the remaining collection,
- the disposal will not be undertaken to generate short-term revenue (for example to meet a budget deficit),
- the disposal will be undertaken as a last resort after other sources of funding have been thoroughly explored.
The disposal decision-making process
h. Whether the disposal is motivated either by curatorial or financial reasons, the decision to dispose of material from the collections will be taken by the governing body only after full consideration of the reasons for disposal. Other factors including the public benefit, the implications for the museum’s collections and collections held by museums and other organisations collecting the same material or in related fields will be considered. External expert advice will be obtained and the views of stakeholders such as donors, researchers, local and source communities and others served by The Spring will also be sought.
Responsibility for disposal decision-making
i. A decision to dispose of a specimen or object, whether by gift, exchange, sale or destruction (in the case of an item too badly damaged or deteriorated to be of any use for the purposes of the collections or for reasons of health and safety), will be the responsibility of the governing body*** acting on the advice of professional curatorial staff, if any, and not of the curator of the collection acting alone.
Use of proceeds of sale
j. Any monies received by the governing body from the disposal of items will be applied for the benefit of the collections. This normally means the purchase of further acquisitions. In exceptional cases, improvements relating to the care of collections in order to meet or exceed Accreditation requirements relating to the risk of damage to and deterioration of the collections may be justifiable. Any monies received in compensation for the damage, loss or destruction of items will be applied in the same way. Advice on those cases where the monies are intended to be used for the care of collections will be sought from MLA.
k. The proceeds of a sale will be ring-fenced so it can be demonstrated that they are spent in a manner compatible with the requirements of the Accreditation standard.
Disposal by gift or sale
l. Once a decision to dispose of material in the collection has been taken, priority will be given to retaining it within the public domain, unless it is to be destroyed. It will therefore be offered in the first instance, by gift or sale, directly to other Accredited Museums likely to be interested in its acquisition.
m. If the material is not acquired by any Accredited Museums to which it was offered directly as a gift or for sale, then the museum community at large will be advised of the intention to dispose of the material, normally through an announcement in the Museums Association’s Museums Journal, and in other specialist journals where appropriate.
n. The announcement relating to gift or sale will indicate the number and nature of specimens or objects involved, and the basis on which the material will be transferred to another institution. Preference will be given to expressions of interest from other Accredited Museums. A period of at least two months will be allowed for an interest in acquiring the material to be expressed. At the end of this period, if no expressions of interest have been received, the Spring may consider disposing of the material to other interested individuals and organisations giving priority to organisations in the public domain.
Disposal by exchange
o. The nature of disposal by exchange means that The Museum will not necessarily be in a position to exchange the material with another Accredited museum. The governing body will therefore ensure that issues relating to accountability and impartiality are carefully considered to avoid undue influence on its decision-making process.
p. In cases where the governing body wishes for sound curatorial reasons to exchange material directly with Accredited or unaccredited museums, with other organisations or with individuals, the procedures in paragraphs 11a-11e and 11h-11i will be followed as will the procedures in paragraphs 11q-11t.
q. If the exchange is proposed to be made with a specific Accredited museum, other Accredited museums which collect in the same or related areas will be directly notified of the proposal and their comments will be requested.
r. If the exchange is proposed with a non-accredited museum, with another type of organisation or with an individual, The Spring will make an announcement in the Museums Journal and in other specialist journals where appropriate.
s. Both the notification and announcement must provide information on the number and nature of the specimens or objects involved both in the museum’s collection and those intended to be acquired in exchange. A period of at least two months must be allowed for comments to be received. At the end of this period, the governing body must consider the comments before a final decision on the exchange is made.
t. Full records will be kept of all decisions on disposals and the items involved and proper arrangements made for the preservation and/or transfer, as appropriate, of the documentation relating to the items concerned, including photographic records where practicable in accordance with SPECTRUM Procedure on deaccession and disposal.
*The term ‘The Spring’ refers to The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre
**The ‘museum’ is The Spring’s Heritage Centre and its collections
***The ‘governing body’ is the Board of Trustees of The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre