Prima Facie Reportage

As we noted back in January in our What Is It A Museum Of? post, we’re aligning our thinking and progress with the UNESCO Running a Museum: A Practical Handbook. We thought, therefore, that the structure in that document might be useful to borrow for our write-up of the fabulous 10 days of The Small Museum Version 1.

Both Harriet and I will be reflecting on our residency along those lines, so please stay tuned for further updates. In the meantime, here’s the general structure of that handbook so you can see the sorts of things we’re thinking through. Isn’t it interesting that collections management is only a small piece of what museums are?

Professional Code of Ethics

Historical background to collecting; The first public museums; Minimum standards & professional ethics; Managing the museum; Making and maintaining collections; Interpreting and furthering knowledge – accessibility; Appreciating and promoting the natural and cultural heritage; Public service and public benefit; Working with communities; Legislation; Professionalism.

Collections management

Developing a collections management policy; Acquisition and accessioning; Deaccessioning and disposals; Numbering and marking of objects in the collection; Loans condition reports; Collections storage; Handling and moving collections; Photography; Insurance; Public access to collections; Display and exhibition galleries and rooms; Research of collections.

Inventories and documentation

Acquisitions, long-term loans and accessioning; Inventory control and cataloguing; Syntax and terminology; Object numbering, labelling and marking; Location and movement control; Backlog accessioning, inventory control and cataloguing; Manual and computer-based cataloguing and retrieval; Images; Web access to the information about the collection; Staff and Financial Resources; Recommended cataloguing fields.

Care and preservation of collections

Deciding priorities and assessing risks; Reducing future loss and damage in 100 years or more; Classifying risks to collections; The Nine Agents of Deterioration; The collection preservation cycle: Step 1: Check the basics – Step 2: Survey the risks – Step 3: Plan improvements to collection risk management; Examples of specific risk assessments and individual solutions; Integrated risk management of pests (IPM); Integrated, sustainable risk management of lighting, pollutants, temperature, and humidity; Museum lighting guidelines; Museum temperature and humidity guidelines; Museum pollutant guidelines; Integrating management of all four agents.

Display, exhibits and exhibitions

Types of displays; The object: interpretation within the exhibition context; Exhibition management in relation to other museum activities; Design: the basic planning and designing process; Creating the planning brief; Developing the exhibition; Production and materials; Completing the exhibition; Evaluating the finished exhibition

Caring for the visitor

The benefits for museums?; What are the underpinning principles for providing quality visitor services; Some key issues to consider in developing a visitor services policy statement; Defining and understanding the visitor; Types of visitors and their needs; Planning and managing visitor services; Specific areas for attention; Checklist from the visitors’ point of view.

Education in the context of Museum function

Collections and education; Developing and managing museum education; Museum education and the community; Designing educational programs: the basic principles; Choice of teaching and learning methods in museum education; Museum publications; Types of didactic material commonly used in museums; Extramural activities; Informal education.

Museum management

Management structure; Teamwork; Leadership styles of directors and other senior staff; Building a mission statement; Financial management; Six rules for planning a budget; Museum ethics and management; The planning process; Issues to be considered; Evaluation; SWOT analysis.

Managing people

Understanding personnel management; The main categories of museum work and museum employees; Personnel information, involvement and fairness; Recruiting and retaining high quality staff; Recruitment and promotion selection methods and approaches; Minimum requirements for a statement or contract of the terms of employment; Staff management, training and professional development; Disciplinary and grievance procedures; Health and safety at work; How to assess risks in the workplace: five steps in risk assessment.


Introduction to marketing; The current orientation of museums in relation to marketing theory and practice; Product, price, promotion, place; Strategic market planning; Mission and vision; Internal and external factors; Target groups; Promotion; Advertising; Public relations; Building a museum “brand”.


Who is responsible for security policy and its enforcement?; Risk analysis and the security plan; Implementing the strategic plan for museum protection; Measures to ensure security in display and exhibition rooms; Intruder Detection System (IDS); Access Control System (ACS); Closed Circuit Television (CCTV); Automatic fire detection and alarm system (FAS); The Emergency Plan.



The Version 1 experiment certainly didn’t cover each and every aspect of this handbook’s suggestions, but we did touch some of them, even in the 10 days. We’re going to write a bit about each chapter and how it manifested during the experiment. In some ways, the residency was something of an ersatz museum, and frankly, that’s interesting in itself!


One thought on “Prima Facie Reportage

  1. Pingback: The Small Museum: Prima Facie Writeup(s) | Good, Form & Spectacle

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