Lawrence County Museum of History

Lawrence County Museum of History & Edward L. Hutton Research Library

Collections Management Policy

Adopted by the Board of Directors—November 18, 2015

Acquisitions Committee:  Jeff Routh, Emily Engstrom, and Becky Buher

Museum Board:
OFFICERS:
Rowena Cross-Najafi, President

Brad Bough, Vice President
Emily Engstrom, Secretary
Jim Buher, Treasurer
 

BOARD MEMBERS AT LARGE:
Becky Buher

Kenny White
Dave Jacobs
Phil Mitchell
Jeff Routh
Bill Schrader
Jim Mount

Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society Collections Management Policy

 Table of Contents

1.1   Introduction
1.2   Mission Statement
1.3   The Permanent Collection
1.4   Code of Ethics
1.5   Composition of the Acquisitions Committee

2.1   Acquisition of Artifacts
2.2 Acquisition of Research Materials
2.3   Acquisition Criteria
2.4 Records of Acquisition
2.5 Accessioning of Artifacts
2.6 Accessioning of Research Materials

3.0   Deacession of Artifacts
3.1   Disposal of Artifacts 

4.0   Loan Agreements and Policies
4.1 Loaning of Artifacts
4.2 Incoming Loans (Borrowing)

5.0 The Collections: Management, Maintenance, and Conservation
5.1   Management:  Care of Collections
5.2   Maintenance: Standards of Care and Conservation
5.3   Conservation
5.4 Environment and Storage

6.0   Record Keeping
6.1   Inventory

7.0 Public Disclosure

8.0 Appendix
8.1   Commonly Used Forms
8.1.1Deed of Gift
8.1.2   Loan Agreement
8.2   Appendix: Indiana Museum Property Law
8.3   American Alliance of Museums Code of Ethics
8.4   Reference

 

Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society

Collections Management Policy

 

1.1 Introduction

The Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society (hereafter referred to as LCHGS) seeks to enhance its museum collections by judiciously acquiring artifacts appropriate to its purpose as stated in its mission statement.

1.2  Mission Statement

The Lawrence County Historical & Genealogical Society’s mission is to preserve the integrity of the historical, genealogical and cultural heritage of Lawrence County.  The Society promotes public awareness and appreciation of the County’s rich heritage and shares its resources through operation of the Lawrence County Museum of History and Edward L. Hutton Research Library for present and future generations.

1.3 The Permanent Collection

The Lawrence County Museum is located in Bedford, Indiana at 929 15th Street.  The collections are split into two groups, the Research Collection and the Artifact Collection.

1.4 Code of Ethics

The Board of Directors (hereafter referred to as “the Board” and the staff and volunteers of the Lawrence County Museum recognize that to maintain public confidence in and support for purposes of this institution it is necessary to adhere to a high standard of professional and personal conduct.  The institution endorses the American Alliance of Museum’s Museum Ethics (2000) as guidelines for ethical behavior. 

Staff members and volunteers are guided by the following principles:

1.    Loyalty to the LCHGS, and full and conscientious fulfillment of responsibilities;

2.    Avoidance of conflict of interest between personal and LCHGS interests, and discussion of any potential conflicts in advance with the Board;

3.    Using one’s position within the LCHGS only for the Society’s purposes, not for personal gain; and,
4.    Maintaining the good name of the LCHGS throughout the community and appropriate use of its name, reputation, property, or services.

1.5   The Composition of the Acquisitions Committee

The acquisitions committee is comprised of a board member, who will chair the committee, and two members at large, who may or may not be board members but must be members in good standing of the LCHGS. The Chairperson of the Acquisitions Committee is chosen by the Board President, and the Chairperson in turn chooses the two at-large members. The Board approves the members of the Committee before they assume their duties.

2.1 Acquisition of Artifacts

Objects are acquired by the museum subject to approval by the Acquisitions Committee or collections staff.  Artifacts to be acquired by donation, purchase, exchange or bequest shall be related to the Society’s Mission Statement and, therefore, to the people, communities, and events that shaped and or continue to shape the history and development of Lawrence County, Indiana.  

2.2 Acquisition of Research Materials

LCHGS maintains a library of research materials in a variety of formats, including books, periodicals, newspapers, printed music, and audio-visual materials.  The primary subject focus is the history and ongoing development of Lawrence County and its towns and villages.  The Research Collection also includes materials relating to other counties in Indiana and surrounding states, where such materials help to explain Lawrence County history

Although past acquisitions have included materials on more general topics of U.S. and world history, LCHGS now concentrates on acquiring Lawrence County resources and may refer prospective donors of more general materials to other libraries or museums.  Selected books may be placed on display as artifacts, but ongoing acquisition of this type of material is highly selective due to space limitations. Items acquired for the Research Collection are entered into the Library Catalog in Past Perfect.

2.3 Acquisition Criteria

The LCHGS will consider items for acquisition and accessioning if the following conditions are met:

1.    The artifacts support the mission and are consistent with the mission of LCHGS. 

2.    LCHGS is able to store, protect, and preserve the artifacts under the conditions that assure their availability for Museum purposes and are in keeping with professionally accepted standards.

3.    Free and clear title to the artifacts can be obtained without restriction as to use or future disposition.  Exceptions to this criterion can be made for extraordinary circumstances, but exceptions require the unanimous approval of the Acquisitions Committee and the Board.  Restrictions that limit free title shall be clearly stated in the Deed of Gift and shall become part of the accession records for such acquisitions.

4.    The artifact meets collection needs by filling a gap in the collection or replacing a less desirable example.

5.    The artifact does not unnecessarily duplicate artifacts already in the collection.

6.    LCHGS intends to keep the item in the collection as long as the item retains its physical integrity, authenticity and usefulness for LCHGS’s purposes. 

A Deed of Gift, setting forth an adequate description of the artifact involved and the precise conditions of transfer of ownership, shall accompany all acquisitions.  This document is prepared in duplicate and signed by both the donor or donor’s authorized representative, who shall receive one copy, and an authorized representative (member of the Board, Acquisitions Committee member, Collections Manager, Collections Assistant, or Research Librarian) of the Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society.  The second copy shall be retained as part of the artifact’s permanent record.

Appraisals, if desired by donors, shall be obtained by the donor or donor’s authorized representative from outside sources prior to making a donation.  Acquisitions Committee members, Officers, Board members, and staff do not appraise artifacts to be donated.

2.4 Records of Objects in Collection

There shall be three steps to the acquisition process (see Appendix for form documents).  All forms shall be retained as part of the acquisitions record.

1.    Approval: Approval of the Collections Staff or Acquisitions Committee is obtained before any item is accepted.

2.    Deed of Gift:   As a legal instrument of conveyance, containing precise conditions of the terms of transmission of ownership, the agreement must be signed by the donor or donor’s authorized representative and a representative of the Society at the time of donation.  Objects will not be rehoused, preserved, cataloged, or made available for use by researchers until this deed of gift has been executed. One copy of the Deed of Gift will be given to the Board President, who will send a letter of appreciation to the donor.

3.    All objects in the collection are entered in the PastPerfect Software for Museum Collections© database.  PastPerfect shall be used to track artifacts from the date of acquisition.  The description in Past Perfect shall contain a precise and exact description of the objects including all available information. 

As soon as is feasible, LCHGS will establish procedures to ensure a written letter of appreciation is sent to each donor of materials.

2.5 Accessioning of  items into the permanent collection

2.5.1 Artifacts

All acquisitions shall be assigned accession numbers and their histories recorded, using forms that are consistent with accepted museum standards (e.g., American Association of Museums, 2008).

Artifacts that are in the collection without records and/or accession numbers will be handled in the same manner as new acquisitions.  These artifacts shall be identified as “Found in Collection” denoted as “FIC.”   Efforts will be made to learn the histories of such artifacts, and accession numbers will be assigned.  LCHGS will not knowingly accept materials of illicit origin or doubtful title into the collections.  Should accessioned material later prove to be of questionable origin, LCHGS will contact the appropriate authorities and make reasonable efforts to resolve the problem ethically and in accordance with the law.

2.5.2 Research Material

Research materials should be entered into the PastPerfect Software for Museum Collections© database.

2.5.2 Restricted Material

At the present time, no materials in the collection are considered restricted. Appropriate procedures for restricted materials will be adopted as the need arises.

3.0   Deaccessioning of Artifacts

Once an object has been accessioned into the Permanent Collection, it can only be removed through completion of the deaccession process.  Deaccessioning is exercised by LCHGS after careful deliberation and with caution.  LCHGS considers the needs of the collection, the best interest of the public, the donor’s or donor’s authorized representative’s  wishes, the clarity of title, the tax status of the item, and the fiduciary responsibilities of the Board. 

No donated object shall be deaccessioned for any reason in the first two years after the date of its accession.  The date of accession is the date when the object was first recorded either in Past Perfect or in earlier forms of LCHGS acquisitions records (See U.S. Tax Reform Act of 1984, and current IRS Regulations.)

The Acquisitions Committee will create a list each month of any items that are being considered for deaccessioning, and will present the list to the Board at its regular monthly meeting.  Artifacts may be deaccessioned and removed from the collection with the unanimous approval of the Acquisitions Committee and the approval of the Board.   If a unanimous decision cannot be made, the Board will be asked to make the decision.  Once a decision to deaccession is made, the method of disposal also is considered carefully.

Deaccessioning shall be considered only when one or more of the following conditions prevail:

1.    The artifact is not relevant to or consistent with the stated mission of the Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society.
2.    Deaccessioning of the object will improve the quality of the collection and, in so doing, further the goals of LCHGS.
3.    The artifact is deemed to be an unnecessary duplicate of others in the collection.
4.    The artifact cannot be adequately stored or cared for in a professional manner.
5.    The artifact no longer retains its physical integrity, its identity cannot be determined, or its authenticity is in question.

Research items will be removed from the collection at the request of the Research Librarian.

3.1 Disposal of Artifacts

Any artifact that has been deaccessioned and removed from the collection is assigned to one of two classes for purposes of disposal:

Class I: Artifacts that can be uniquely associated with an individual, family, group and/or donor;

Class II: Artifacts that were in common usage or were available in quantity, and for this reason are not uniquely associated with an individual, family, group and/or donor.

Any deaccessioned artifact in Class I will be disposed of in the following way:

1.    Offered to the family of the original donor if members of the family can be identified (the intent of this step is not to spend vast amounts of time trying to identify family members, but to expend a reasonable amount of time making a good faith effort to find family).

2.    Given or exchanged with a historical society, museum, or non-profit organization that may find it relevant to its collection. 

3.    Offered for sale by auction, dealer, flea market, or private sale to members of the public.

Deaccession of class II artifacts

On the recommendation of the Board, deaccessioned artifacts in Class II may be offered for sale by auction, dealer, flea market, or private sale. 

Any income derived from the sale of deaccessioned artifacts will be placed in the Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society treasury in a restricted acquisitions fund to be used for future acquisitions and care of the collection.

No museum volunteer, member of the board or staff is permitted to purchase deaccessioned items directly from the museum. Volunteers, board members, and staff may purchase items previously owned by the museum from an auction, dealer, or flea market as members of the general public.

4.0 Loan Agreements and Policies

4.1 Loaning of Artifacts

At the discretion of the Board, artifacts in the collection may be loaned to other museums or entities on a temporary basis, for a period of time not to exceed one year.  Such loans may be renewable annually.  Requests for outgoing loans must be made in writing to the LCHGS for Board review at least 30 days prior to the loan date. 

 The following terms and conditions must be agreed to by the borrower:

1.    A request must be presented to the Board.  Upon approval of the Board, a Loan Agreement form shall be prepared and signed by representatives of both the borrower and lender.  A description of the artifact(s), including condition and any evidence of damage as of the date of the loan, shall be noted on the Loan Agreement.

2.    Packing will be provided by the borrower or lender, to be determined by prior agreement.  The artifact(s) will be returned packed in the same or similar manner as they were received, unless otherwise authorized by the lender.

3.    The mode of transportation of the artifact(s) and arrangements for delivery and return will be agreed upon by both parties.

4.    The borrower will exercise care of the borrowed artifact(s) to assure safekeeping.  Conditions regarding the handling and display of the borrowed artifact(s) shall be stated on the Loan Agreement.  Evidence of damage, regardless of who may be responsible for it, shall be reported immediately in writing to LCHGS.  No alteration, restoration or repair may be undertaken without written authorization from the lender.

5.    All expenses incurred as a result of the loan shall be assumed by the borrower.  The borrower shall be responsible for all risks from the time the artifact leaves the Lawrence County Museum until it is returned. 

6.    The borrower will not photograph, duplicate, replicate or otherwise reproduce the borrowed artifact(s) or its image for any purpose without the express permission of the LCHGS.  Permission shall be granted the borrower for non-profit publicity, documentation, and/or educational purposes.

7.    The borrower will give credit to the LCHGS as owner of the loaned artifact(s).

8.    Upon request by the LCHGS Board, the borrower will implement the return of the loaned artifact(s) within a month.

4.2 Incoming Loans (Borrowing)

LCHGS may initiate the loan of objects on a temporary, short-term basis for the purposes of exhibition.  Loans shall not be accepted when they place a burden on LCHGS facilities or staff.  All items accepted for loan by LCHGS shall be covered by an incoming loan agreement form which specifies the terms, use and dates of the loan.  In addition, proof of ownership and the manner in which an item was collected or acquired may be required. 

All loan requests must be reviewed by the Acquisitions Committee and approved by the Board.

When borrowing, LCHGS will follow a similar procedure to that used for its own artifacts loaned to outside institutions.

1.    A request must be presented to the Board.  Upon approval by the Board, a Loan Agreement form shall be prepared and signed by representatives of both the borrower and lender.  A description of the artifact(s), including condition and any evidence of damage as of the date of the loan, shall be noted on the Loan Agreement.

2.    Packing will be provided by the borrower or lender, to be determined by prior agreement.  The artifact(s) will be returned packed in the same or similar manner as they were received, unless otherwise authorized by the lender.

3.    The mode of transportation of the artifact(s) and arrangements for delivery and return will be agreed upon by both parties.

4.    LCHGS will exercise care of the borrowed artifact(s) to assure their safekeeping.  Conditions regarding the handling and display of the borrowed artifact(s) shall be stated on the Loan Agreement.  Evidence of damage, regardless of who may be responsible for it, shall be reported immediately in writing to both parties.  No alteration, restoration or repair may be undertaken without written authorization from the lender.

5.    All expenses incurred as a result of the loan shall be assumed by LCHGS unless other arrangements are made with the loaning institution.  LCHGS shall be responsible for all risks from the time the artifact(s) arrives at the Lawrence County Museum until the time the it is returned.  LCHGS shall guarantee payment of claims for loss, as well as for restoration and related costs should damage occur.   This responsibility and guarantee may be met by insurance (through an agent approved by the Board) or by the loaning organization itself (if it is able to provide proof of its financial ability to meet such a guarantee).  Insurance coverage may be waived by mutual agreement of the parties to the loan.

6.    LCHGS will not photograph, duplicate, replicate or otherwise reproduce the borrowed artifact(s) or its image for any purpose without the express permission of the loaning organization.  Permission shall be requested from the loaning institution or individual for non-profit publicity, documentation and/or educational purposes.

7.    LCHGS will give credit to the loaning organization as owner of the loaned artifact(s).

8.    LCHGS will return the loaned artifact(s) as requested by the lender.

5.0 The Collections: Management, Maintenance and Conservation

5.1 Management:  Care of Collections

The Acquisitions Committee, the Exhibits Committee, staff, and volunteers are responsible to the LCHGS Board. 

Collaborative responsibility for the care of LCHGS’s collections shall rest with the Board and the Collections staff.  All materials shall be tracked as they enter or leave LCHGS, with care taken to ensure their safe handling and accurate documentation.

5.2 Maintenance: Standards of Care

Standards of professional care shall apply to all of LCHGS’s collections.  Items will be surveyed for condition issues during the process of being inventoried.  General guidelines for the care of the collections shall ensure consistency.  Informing docents, interns, volunteers, researchers, consultants, and vendors about policies, procedures, and guidelines to ensure they are followed is the shared responsibility of the staff and all Board members.  Standards of care shall comply with those laid out in the American Alliance of Museums’ National Standards and Best Practices for U.S. Museums manual.

5.3   Conservation

All objects in LCHGS’s permanent collections are subject to the same standards of professional care.  To ensure consistency, the Board, with significant input from the staff, will issue general guidelines for the care of the collections.  It is the responsibility of all staff to inform interns, volunteers, researchers, consultants and vendors with whom they work about these policies, procedures, and guidelines, and ensure they are followed.

Conservation action may be undertaken only by trained, professional conservators, and any treatment must respect the integrity of the object.  Conservation treatment of the fabric of an object must include earlier repairs and modifications which, after examination and research, are found to be historically significant.  Any new material added to the object must be minimal and must be compatible with the future welfare of the object.  No action may be taken without a thorough technical examination of the object and a written proposal of treatment listing all possible treatment options.  Once treatment is undertaken, the conservator must provide a written report of all conservation actions which will be maintained in the object’s Accession File and made available to researchers and scholars upon request. 

5.4 Environment and Storage

The Society endeavors to follow best museum practices as set forth in American Alliance of Museums’ National Standards and Best Practices for U.S. Museums manual (2008). 

6.0 Record Keeping

Deed of Gift, worksheets, accessioning forms, photographs, deaccessioning recommendation forms, loan agreements, and any other written materials regarding artifacts in the collection shall be retained as part of their permanent record by the collections staffAll records are filed and easily retrieved in appropriate storage in LCHGS offices.

Records of accessions are made by the collections staff and are retained for all artifacts acquired for the collection. 

Artifacts that came to LCHGS prior to the adoption of this collections management policy will be recorded as already-accessioned artifacts only if they have old accession numbers or paperwork.  Any undocumented artifacts in the collection will be treated as “found in collections” items and will follow the process described in section 2.5.1.

Adequate records of the conditions and circumstances under which artifacts are deaccessioned, and disposed of, are made in Past Perfect and retained.

6.1          Items on Display

Artifacts and research materials to be displayed at the museum or off-site should be recorded into the PastPerfect database system as assigned to an exhibit and/or exhibit location. Once the items are returned to storage, the record should be updated to reflect the new location.

7.0 Public Disclosure

A written statement of this Collections Management Policy, as well as any procedures adopted and followed by the Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society regarding the acquisition and disposal of artifacts in LCHGS collections, shall be made available to donors and other responsible persons on request, as provided for in the Collections Management Policy.

In reply to responsible inquiry, information may be made available, by appointment, regarding the identity and description of artifacts in the collection or those deaccessioned, unless such information has been restricted.  The decision to release information about specific artifacts shall be made by the President as chief legal officer.

8.0 Appendix:

8.1 Commonly Used Forms

8.2 Indiana Museum Property Law

The Indiana Museum Property Law (IC 32-34-5) will be used to gain clear title to any “found in collections” items. Copies of all publications and correspondence shall be kept.

IC 32-34-5 Chapter 5. Property Loaned to Museums

IC 32-34-5-1 "Lender" defined Sec. 1. As used in this chapter, "lender" means a person whose name appears on the records of a museum as the person legally entitled to, or claiming to be legally entitled to, property held by the museum. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-2 "Lender's address" defined Sec. 2. As used in this chapter, "lender's address" means the most recent address of a lender as shown on the museum's records pertaining to property on loan from the lender. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-3 "Loan" defined Sec. 3. As used in this chapter, "loan" means a deposit of property not accompanied by a transfer of title to the property. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-4 "Museum" defined Sec. 4. As used in this chapter, "museum" means an institution located in Indiana that: (1) is operated by a person primarily for education, scientific, historic preservation, or aesthetic purposes; and (2) owns, borrows, cares for, exhibits, studies, archives, or catalogs property. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-5 "Permanent loan" defined Sec. 5. As used in this chapter, "permanent loan" means a loan of property to a museum for an indefinite period. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-6 "Person" defined Sec. 6. As used in this chapter, "person" means an individual, a nonprofit corporation, a trustee or legal representative, the state, a political subdivision (as defined in IC 36-1-2-13), an agency of the state or a political subdivision, or a group of those persons acting in concert. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-7

"Property" defined Sec. 7. As used in this chapter, "property" means a tangible object under a museum's care that has intrinsic historic, artistic, scientific, or cultural value. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-8 "Undocumented property" defined Sec. 8. As used in this chapter, "undocumented property" means property in the possession of a museum for which the museum cannot determine the owner by reference to the museum's records. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-9 Mailing notice Sec. 9. A notice given by a museum under this chapter must be mailed to the lender's last known address by certified mail. Proper notice is given if the museum receives proof of receipt of the notice not more than thirty (30) days after the notice was mailed. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-10 Notice by publication Sec. 10. (a) A museum may give notice by publication under this chapter if the museum does not: (1) know the identity of the lender; (2) have an address last known for the lender; or (3) receive proof of receipt of the notice by the person to whom the notice was sent within thirty (30) days after the notice was mailed. (b) Notice by publication under subsection (a) must be given at least once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in: (1) the county in which the museum is located; and (2) the county of the lender's last known address, if the identity of the lender is known. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-11 Notice; contents Sec. 11. In addition to any other information that may be required or seem appropriate, a notice given by a museum under this chapter must contain the following: (1) The name of the lender, if known. (2) The last known address of the lender. (3) A brief description of the property on loan. (4) The date of the loan, if known. (5) The name of the museum. (6) The name, address, and telephone number of the person or office to be contacted regarding the property.

As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-12 Acquiring title for property on permanent loan or loaned for specified time; notice Sec. 12. A museum may acquire title in the following manner to property that is on permanent loan to the museum or that was loaned for a specified term that has expired: (1) The museum must give notice that the museum is terminating the loan of the property. (2) The notice that the loan of the property is terminated must include a statement containing substantially the following information: "The records at (name of museum) indicate that you have property on loan to it. The museum hereby terminates the loan. If you desire to claim the property, you must contact the museum, establish your ownership of the property, and make arrangements to collect the property. If you do not contact the museum, you will be considered to have donated the property to the museum.". (3) If the lender does not respond to the notice of termination within one (1) year after receipt of the notice by filing a notice of intent to preserve an interest in the property on loan, clear and unrestricted title is transferred to the museum three hundred sixty-five (365) days after the notice was received. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-13 Acquiring title for undocumented property; notice Sec. 13. A museum may acquire title to undocumented property held by the museum for at least seven (7) years as follows: (1) The museum must give notice that the museum is asserting title to the undocumented property. (2) The notice that the museum is asserting title to the property must include a statement containing substantially the following information: "The records of (name of museum) fail to indicate the owner of record of certain property in its possession. The museum hereby asserts title to the following property: (general description of property). If you claim ownership or other legal interest in this property, you must contact the museum, establish ownership of the property, and make arrangements to collect the property. If you fail to do so within three (3) years, you will be considered to have waived any claim you may have had to the property.". (3) If a lender does not respond to the notice within three (3) years by giving a written notice of intent to retain an interest in the property on loan, the museum's title to the property becomes absolute. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-14 Conservation measures; application without lender's permission or formal notice Sec. 14. Unless there is a written loan agreement to the contrary, a museum may apply conservation measures to property on loan to the museum without the lender's permission or formal notice: (1) if: (A) action is required to protect the property on loan or other property in the custody of the museum; or (B) the property on loan is a hazard to the health and safety of the public or the museum staff; and (2) if: (A) the museum is unable to reach the lender at the lender's last known address within three (3) days before the time the museum determines action is necessary; or (B) the lender does not respond or will not agree to the protective measures the museum recommends and does not terminate the loan and retrieve the property within three (3) days. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-15 Conservation measures; liens; liability of museum Sec. 15. If a museum applies conservation measures to property under section 14 of this chapter or with the agreement of the lender, unless the agreement provides otherwise, the museum: (1) acquires a lien on the property in the amount of the costs incurred by the museum; and (2) is not liable for injury to or loss of the property if the museum: (A) had a reasonable belief at the time the action was taken that the action was necessary to protect the property on loan or other property in the custody of the museum, or that the property on loan was a hazard to the health and safety of the public or the museum staff; and (B) exercised reasonable care in the choice and application of conservation measures. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

IC 32-34-5-16 Presumption of gift to museum Sec. 16. Property that: (1) is found in or on property controlled by the museum; (2) is from an unknown source; and (3) might reasonably be assumed to have been intended as a gift to the museum; is conclusively presumed to be a gift to the museum if ownership of the property is not claimed by a person or individual within ninety (90) days after its discovery. As added by P.L.2-2002, SEC.19.

8.3 American Alliance of Museums Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics for Museums

Adopted 1991, amended 2000.

Please note that the Code of Ethics for Museums references the American Association of Museums (AAM), now called the American Alliance of Museums.

Ethical codes evolve in response to changing conditions, values and ideas. A professional code of ethics must, therefore, be periodically updated. It must also rest upon widely shared values. Although the operating environment of museums grows more complex each year, the root value for museums, the tie that connects all of us together despite our diversity, is the commitment to serving people, both present and future generations. This value guided the creation of and remains the most fundamental principle in the following Code of Ethics for Museums.

Code of Ethics for Museums

Museums make their unique contribution to the public by collecting, preserving and interpreting the things of this world. Historically, they have owned and used natural objects, living and nonliving, and all manner of human artifacts to advance knowledge and nourish the human spirit. Today, the range of their special interests reflects the scope of human vision. Their missions include collecting and preserving, as well as exhibiting and educating with materials not only owned but also borrowed and fabricated for these ends. Their numbers include both governmental and private museums of anthropology, art history and natural history, aquariums, arboreta, art centers, botanical gardens, children's museums, historic sites, nature centers, planetariums, science and technology centers, and zoos. The museum universe in the United States includes both collecting and non-collecting institutions. Although diverse in their missions, they have in common their nonprofit form of organization and a commitment of service to the public. Their collections and/or the objects they borrow or fabricate are the basis for research, exhibits, and programs that invite public participation.

Taken as a whole, museum collections and exhibition materials represent the world's natural and cultural common wealth. As stewards of that wealth, museums are compelled to advance an understanding of all natural forms and of the human experience. It is incumbent on museums to be resources for humankind and in all their activities to foster an informed appreciation of the rich and diverse world we have inherited. It is also incumbent upon them to preserve that inheritance for posterity.

Museums in the United States are grounded in the tradition of public service. They are organized as public trusts, holding their collections and information as a benefit for those they were established to serve. Members of their governing authority, employees and volunteers are committed to the interests of these beneficiaries. The law provides the basic framework for museum operations. As nonprofit institutions, museums comply with applicable local, state, and federal laws and international conventions, as well as with the specific legal standards governing trust responsibilities. This Code of Ethics for Museums takes that compliance as given. But legal standards are a minimum. Museums and those responsible for them must do more than avoid legal liability, they must take affirmative steps to maintain their integrity so as to warrant public confidence. They must act not only legally but also ethically. This Code of Ethics for Museums, therefore, outlines ethical standards that frequently exceed legal minimums.

Loyalty to the mission of the museum and to the public it serves is the essence of museum work, whether volunteer or paid. Where conflicts of interest arise—actual, potential or perceived—the duty of loyalty must never be compromised. No individual may use his or her position in a museum for personal gain or to benefit another at the expense of the museum, its mission, its reputation and the society it serves.

For museums, public service is paramount. To affirm that ethic and to elaborate its application to their governance, collections and programs, the American Association of Museums promulgates this Code of Ethics for Museums. In subscribing to this code, museums assume responsibility for the actions of members of their governing authority, employees and volunteers in the performance of museum-related duties. Museums, thereby, affirm their chartered purpose, ensure the prudent application of their resources, enhance their effectiveness and maintain public confidence. This collective endeavor strengthens museum work and the contributions of museums to society—present and future.

Governance

Museum governance in its various forms is a public trust responsible for the institution's service to society. The governing authority protects and enhances the museum's collections and programs and its physical, human and financial resources. It ensures that all these resources support the museum's mission, respond to the pluralism of society and respect the diversity of the natural and cultural common wealth.

Thus, the governing authority ensures that:

·      all those who work for or on behalf of a museum understand and support its mission and public trust responsibilities
·      its members understand and fulfill their trusteeship and act corporately, not as individuals
·      the museum's collections and programs and its physical, human and financial resources are protected, maintained and developed in support of the museum's mission
·      it is responsive to and represents the interests of society
·      it maintains the relationship with staff in which shared roles are recognized and separate responsibilities respected
·      working relationships among trustees, employees and volunteers are based on equity and mutual respect
·      professional standards and practices inform and guide museum operations
·      policies are articulated and prudent oversight is practiced
·      governance promotes the public good rather than individual financial gain.

Collections

The distinctive character of museum ethics derives from the ownership, care and use of objects, specimens, and living collections representing the world's natural and cultural common wealth. This stewardship of collections entails the highest public trust and carries with it the presumption of rightful ownership, permanence, care, documentation, accessibility and responsible disposal.

Thus, the museum ensures that:
·      collections in its custody support its mission and public trust responsibilities
·      collections in its custody are lawfully held, protected, secure, unencumbered, cared for and preserved
·      collections in its custody are accounted for and documented
·      access to the collections and related information is permitted and regulated
·      acquisition, disposal, and loan activities are conducted in a manner that respects the protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources and discourages illicit trade in such materials
·      acquisition, disposal, and loan activities conform to its mission and public trust responsibilities
·      disposal of collections through sale, trade or research activities is solely for the advancement of the museum's mission. Proceeds from the sale of nonliving collections are to be used consistent with the established standards of the museum's discipline, but in no event shall they be used for anything other than acquisition or direct care of collections.
·      the unique and special nature of human remains and funerary and sacred objects is recognized as the basis of all decisions concerning such collections
·      collections-related activities promote the public good rather than individual financial gain
·      competing claims of ownership that may be asserted in connection with objects in its custody should be handled openly, seriously, responsively and with respect for the dignity of all parties involved.

Programs

Museums serve society by advancing an understanding and appreciation of the natural and cultural common wealth through exhibitions, research, scholarship, publications and educational activities. These programs further the museum's mission and are responsive to the concerns, interests and needs of society.

Thus, the museum ensures that:

·      programs support its mission and public trust responsibilities
·      programs are founded on scholarship and marked by intellectual integrity
·      programs are accessible and encourage participation of the widest possible audience consistent with its mission and resources
·      programs respect pluralistic values, traditions and concerns
·      revenue-producing activities and activities that involve relationships with external entities are compatible with the museum's mission and support its public trust responsibilities
·      programs promote the public good rather than individual financial gain.

Promulgation

This Code of Ethics for Museums was adopted by the Board of Directors of the American Association of Museums on November 12, 1993. The AAM Board of Directors recommends that each nonprofit museum member of the American Association of Museums adopt and promulgate its separate code of ethics, applying the Code of Ethics for Museums to its own institutional setting.

A Committee on Ethics, nominated by the president of the AAM and confirmed by the Board of Directors, will be charged with two responsibilities:

·      establishing programs of information, education and assistance to guide museums in developing their own codes of ethics
·      reviewing the Code of Ethics for Museums and periodically recommending refinements and revisions to the Board of Directors.

Afterword

Each nonprofit museum member of the American Association of Museums should subscribe to the AAM Code of Ethics for Museums. Subsequently, these museums should set about framing their own institutional codes of ethics, which should be in conformance with the AAM code and should expand on it through the elaboration of specific practices. This recommendation is made to these member institutions in the belief that engaging the governing authority, staff and volunteers in applying the AAM code to institutional settings will stimulate the development and maintenance of sound policies and procedures necessary to understanding and ensuring ethical behavior by institutions and by all who work for them or on their behalf.

The Code of Ethics for Museums serves the interests of museums, their constituencies, and society. The primary goal of AAM is to encourage institutions to regulate the ethical behavior of members of their governing authority, employees and volunteers. Formal adoption of an institutional code promotes higher and more consistent ethical standards.

8.4 References

American Alliance of Museums’ National Standards and Best Practices for U.S. Museums manual, 2008 by Elizabeth E. Merritt

http://www.aam-us.org/resources/ethics-standards-and-best-practices/standards

American Alliance of Museums Code of Ethics, 2000

http://www.aam-us.org/resources/ethics-standards-and-best-practices/code-of-ethics

Indiana Museum Property Law, 2014

Indiana General Assembly

https://iga.in.gov/legislative/laws/2014/ic/titles/032/articles/034/chapters/005/

American Alliance of Museums’ white paper on direct care of collections.  Spring 2016

 

 

 


 

 

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