Collection policies

By Museums & Galleries of NSW



The Collection Policy guides the decision-making process for shaping the collections of the museum. It is essentially a set of principles that guides collecting, loans, deaccessioning, collection care and access.


The importance of having a collection policy

Collection policies are essential for all collecting agencies. Although writing a collection policy takes time, clearly defined policies demonstrate to funding bodies and potential sponsors that a logical and strategic approach to collection development has been implemented.

Working with neighbouring and related organisations to develop strategic collections policies is essential to diversify collection themes. This results in the development of complementary collections across regions and allows each collection to brand and promote their material uniquely. It reduces the waste of resources and avoids duplication that occurs when two or more organisations attempt to compete with each other in a small community.

Collection policies are invaluable in situations where well-meaning donors want to give objects to a museum which do not fit the organisation’s aims. Handling such offers requires tact and diplomacy and having a written policy provides clarity for donors without offence.

Collection policies should be publicly accessible. Consider displaying a summary of it at reception, providing a copy for visitors to browse or publishing in the local newspaper.

This document is written for small to medium museums, but contains information pertinent to public art galleries and Aboriginal keeping places.


Collection policy components

A collection policy specifically addresses:

  • The purpose or mission of the organisation
  • What the organisation collects
  • How, from whom, and under what circumstances the organisation collects
  • How it documents its acquisitions
  • How it cares for the collection
  • How it deals with removing objects from the collection
  • What kind of loans it will enter into and what conditions will apply
  • How the collection and records are made accessible to researchers and members of the general public
  • How often the policy is reviewed


To find out more download the PDF at the top of this page. 


You might also like:

Tweed River Regional Museum Collection Policy, 2007,

Willoughby Museum Historical Society, 2011

Deaccessioning & disposal, Museums & Galleries of NSW

Deaccessioning & disposal flowchart, Museums & Galleries of NSW

Museums & Galleries of NSW helps small-medium museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres create exciting experiences for visitors and, through this, thriving local NSW communities. We don't run museums, galleries and cultural centres but we care about those who do. We develop their skills, connect them with others in the industry, provide funding, point visitors their way, and give them access to ground-breaking exhibitions.

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