Collections Management Policy

This Internet Version of the policy differs in formatting and layout from the original. Minor changes to spellings or punctuation may have been made. The changes do not affect the meaning or text of the policy. If you require a copy of the original in PDF format by e-mail please complete the feedback form on the website, stating the purpose. Copyright of this document as a whole belongs to the Canal Museum Trust.

The Canal Museum Trust
London Canal Museum Collections Management Policy

August 2014

Date of approval by the Council of Management:

February 20thth 2023

Date at which policy due for review:

31st December 2024

Version 8.4

1. Introduction

1.1. The museum's mission is set out in the Constitution of the Canal Museum Trust and the museum's Forward Plan. The museum's collections exist to support the mission, to preserve and interpret the history of London's canals and the ice trade.

1.2. The purpose of this policy is to be a guide for museum staff, supporters, and the public, to the professional standards the museum seeks to maintain.

1.3. 1.3. This policy will be published online.

1.4. The Trust's Council of Management is the governing body of the museum.

2. The Collection

2.1. See Collections Development Policy

3. Collection Development

3.1. A Collections Development Policy sets out our approach to the development of our collections in detail.

4. Collection Care

4.1 The museum holds its collection in trust for the benefit of future generations. The Trust will always:

5. Loans to the museum

5.1 The museum will accept items on loan from individuals or organisations, including other museums, for the purpose of temporary and long term exhibition, where no suitable alternative artefact owned by the Canal Museum Trust is available. Items will not be accepted on loan if they are not required for display, or likely to be so required in the foreseeable future. Loans will be authorised either by the Council of Management, or by the Collections Management Committee.

5.2 Loans of photographs and other media may also be accepted on a short term basis for copying.

5.3 Loans will be accepted only if the museum is able to offer a standard of care equivalent to that given to items in the permanent collection, and has the resources so to do.

5.4 In all cases a loan agreement in writing shall be signed by the owner and a representative of the museum. Such agreements will be for specified terms of no more than ten years (and normally no more than five) and in no circumstances will be described as permanent loans. Loan agreements may be renewed for a further period by agreement with the owner, when they expire.

5.5 Items on loan will be recorded as loans on a computer database in like manner to items which are accessioned to the permanent collection.

5.6 Items may be accepted on a temporary loan basis for examination or assessment prior to a decision being made on acceptance of the item as a gift or longer term loan.

6. Loans by the museum to others

6.1 Loans of artefacts in the museum's permanent collection may be made. The museum may impose conditions on the loan. All loans must be authorised by either the Council of Management or the Collection Management Committee who may refuse at their discretion. The loan period shall be decided according to circumstances but for a maximum of five years.

6.2 In all cases a loan agreement will be signed by the borrower and a representative of the museum. The agreement must cover:

6.3 Loans will only be made if by so doing the museum's exhibitions are not seriously diminished

7. Access to Collections

7.1 A high proportion of the museum's collection is on regular exhibition to the public. Where objects are held in store, persons wishing to view may do so by prior arrangement. Such appointments will not be unreasonably withheld but persons wishing to see objects will be offered appointments when appropriate museum staff are available and they may not be possible at short notice.

7.2 Access to the museum's library and archive collection is restricted to bona fide researchers and students and is by prior arrangement only. Such appointments will not be unreasonably withheld but persons wishing to study the archives or use the library will be offered times and dates when appropriate museum staff are available and an appointment may not be possible at short notice. The museum reserves the right to refuse access to vulnerable material in the interests of its safe preservation. Where the field of study can be pursued using the resources of public or university libraries or the purchase of currently available books the museum may at its discretion direct the student or researcher to those sources. In certain cases references may be required of the researcher or student.

8. Education Handling Collection

  1. The museum will maintain a separate Education Collection for the purpose of providing material for handling and outreach work.
  2. In the case of such material, documentation will clearly show the intended use of the object and donors will be made aware of the possibility of use in this way.
  3. These objects will be recorded separately outside the main accession record and shall not be treated as part of the permanent collection since their intended use implies that preservation cannot be guaranteed.
  4. When such materials are loaned to schools or other organisations for educational purposes, the policy described in section 6 above will not apply. Reasonable arrangements will be made by the museum's Education Officer appropriate to the circumstances.

9. Models

9.1 Models can be of value in conveying information and understanding more vividly than other means, and they allow representation of large objects which could not be displayed. The museum will only acquire models if they are considered to reasonably accurate or demonstrative representations of the original or are themselves of historical interest. If of historic interest they will be accessioned.

10. Management of Archives

See Collections Development Policy

11. Security and insurance

11.1 The museum strives to educate its staff, including casual volunteers, to make them aware that it is their responsibility to protect and preserve the items in their care and that there are issues of security in relation to theft, accidental damage and danger from the elements

11.2 Staff involved in the handling of objects will receive appropriate basic training

11.3 Rooms housing archive materials and collection items in store are kept locked at all times except when in use. Risks are minimised by practical, common sense procedures and good 'house keeping'.

11.4 The Canal Museum Trust maintains a comprehensive insurance policy covering the building, its contents, and liabilities to volunteers and the public.

12. Documentation

12.1 The museum will maintain the following documentation in respect of its collection:

12.2 The museum will maintain procedures for the return of items received for identification or possible acquisition once a decision has been made.

12.3 Artefacts in the permanent collection and on long term loan are assigned with an accession number recorded in the computerised Accessions Register and where practicable without risk of damage to the item are discretely labelled, tagged, or otherwise physically identified by the number. The computer records include a detailed description, and as much information as available on the provenance of the artefact, together with a record of the current location.

12.4 A backup copy of the registers will be kept off the premises in a bound paper volume and also in an electronic format.

13. Policy Review Procedure

13.1 This policy will be reviewed at least once every five years and is therefore due for review in 2019 or sooner. The Arts Council will be notified of any changes to the this policy, and the implications of any such changes for the future of existing collections.

Other Policies Online

Collections Development Policy - PDF File - (new window)

Collection Care and Conservation Policy

Access Policy

Equal Opportunities Policy

Health and Safety policy

Child Protection Policy