Collections reviews

Collections lie at the heart of museums. Yet, ask the staff of a museum what exactly it has in its storeroom, and the chances are they will struggle to answer.

However, the more you know about a collection, the better you can use it, which is why museums are increasingly undertaking strategic collections reviews.

This issue of Museum Practice looks at the advantages of a collections review, explores the best way to approach a review and explains some methodologies other museums have used. You can also share your questions and experiences of collections reviews with other readers.


Why do a collections review?

More museums are undertaking reviews to improve their understanding of collections, make disposals or find new uses for stored objects

How to conduct a collections review

A guide to taking a strategic approach to collections reviews, from the preparation stage to conducting a review and making the most of the results

Collections review methodologies

A closer look at some of the different approaches museums have developed to review their collections and meet their objectives

Case study: specialist knowledge

A collections review at Coventry Transport Museum reveals how curatorial knowledge can be supplemented with the help of local enthusiasts

Case study: disposing of objects

A review of domestic technology across Scottish museums highlights how disposal can have positive consequences for museums and beyond

Case study: better use of collections

A fine art collections review at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery has uncovered hidden treasures and will help to pave the way for new exhibitions

Picture album: Disposal?

A selection of images from UCL's Disposal? exhibition, which raised questions about what objects museums should - and shouldn't - collect

Collections reviews: further resources

Further resources for anyone interested in finding out more about collections reviews

Have your say on collections reviews

Share your views on collections reviews and disposal

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Disposal

Step-by-step guidance on how to make disposal part of your collections management policy

Making better use of collections

Challenging and inspiring museums to make better use of their collections and collections knowledge