Pilot phase 2006-09

The pilot phase of Effective Collections ran from late 2006 to May 2009. During this time we published an introductory report, Making Collections Effective (2007), to outline the aims of the programme and began testing ways of working with the sector.

The pilot phase included nine projects with over 25 museums to test ways of reviewing collections, identifying opportunities for improving use of collections and for brokering loans and disposals. These projects were with:

· National Portrait Gallery
· Tate
· Sharing Collections project
· Museums in Wales
· Falkirk Museum Service
· Plymouth Museum
· National Museums Liverpool
· Hawick Museum
· Collections Review Project in the North West

A brief summary of these projects and details of the full phase of Effective Collections can be downloaded below.

In 2007 the MA published Simple Loans Administration, a discussion paper advocating the use of straightforward, basic loan agreements for the majority of long-term loans.

The paper was well received and we will continue to provide related training and conferences (for example in handling and packing and in condition reporting). However, we have also seen that this approach only solves a part of the problems to increase sharing of collections in UK museums.

The findings from an Effective Collections proposal in 2008 showed that many museums support increased lending in theory, but struggle to put this into practice.

In other words, museums agree that loans are a good thing, but they do not necessarily see them as core, so the full phase of Effective Collections includes work to approach this more philosophical barrier to lending and borrowing.

Following the review of guiding principles on disposal that resulted in a change to the Code of Ethics for Museums in 2007, the MA published the Disposal Toolkit as part of Effective Collections in February 2008.

We have since developed training in using the toolkit, which was provided for free in each UK nation and region in 2008 is now available through our events team.

We will also provide free training in designing and undertaking a collections review in 2009-10. For more information see our pages on Disposal.

During the early stages of Effective Collections the MA commissioned research into levels of long loan and disposal activity as a baseline from which to measure the impact of the programme.

The research also asked participating museums about barriers to increased lending and disposal. The report is available to download below.

A range of case studies from museums that have been proactive in sharing, using and reviewing their collections have emerged since 2006, each of which is available to download below.

Also available are publications and links to projects by partner organisations that are relevant to the principles of Effective Collections, for example the Collections for People research project looking at access to stored collections.

If you have a case study to add, please contact Sally Colvin at sally@museumsassociation.org.


Effective Collections: programme prospectus 2009-12 (pdf)

Making Collections Effective (2007) (pdf)

Summary of learning points from pilot projects with museums (2009) (word)

Long Loan and Disposal Benchmark Study (2007) (pdf)

Case studies of collections use:

Tate, 2007 (pdf)

Bodelwyddan Castle, 2007 (word)

Clydebank Museum, 2007 (word)

Manchester Museum, 2007 (word)

National Portrait Gallery, 2007 (word)

Thackray Museum, 2007 (word)

Oxfordshire County Council Museums Service, 2007 (word)

Sharing Collections project, 2007 (pdf)

Collections for People project, University College London 2008 (pdf)

Unlocking Local Treasure, Local Government Association 2008 (pdf)

If you can't see what you're looking for on this page, or if you have a particular document in mind, try looking in our A-Z list of resources or use the search box at the top of the page.

To see the A-Z list of resources please click here

For an overview of Effective Collections click here