Museums have traditionally focused on acquiring items and building collections, with the result that many are now victims of their own success.
Most museum workers will recognise the problem of having too much stuff. These institutions have stores bulging with items that are unlikely ever to be put on display which, in some cases, is preventing us from building relevant and contemporary collections.
The problem is that getting rid of art and objects just isn’t as enticing as acquiring them. In addition, the process is often seen as being fraught with ethical difficulties.
Even so, disposal is a vital part of museum work – and at the Museums Association (MA), we want to empower the sector to truly embrace it.
This is why we have recently convened a new working group focused on revising the MA’s disposal toolkit. We will work with partners from across the sector over the coming year to look at how disposal can become a more accepted part of curatorial practice, while continuing to ensure that unethical, bad-faith sales from collections are avoided.
There will be more consultation with the sector on this later in the year. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to taking the project forward.