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Collections Stewardship Assessment Critical Issues Checklist 

Mission and Planning


  • Do staff and governing authority members have a clear, shared understanding of the museum’s mission?
  • Do the collections support this mission?
  • Are policies, procedures and resource allocation focused on fulfilling the mission?


  • Are staff and governing authority members engaged in an effective planning process for the museum’s future?
  • Does this planning effectively address the most important issues regarding collections use, care, and development?


Audiences and Visitors

  • Does the museum clearly identify its target audiences and take appropriate steps to serve their needs?
  • Are the museum’s collections and collecting tied to the needs of its audiences?


  • Does the museum have a clear understanding of its role in the community?
  • Is the community active in and supportive of the museum?

Public Programs

  • Do the museum’s programs make effective and appropriate use of its collections?
  • Do the collections support the museum’s programming goals?


  • Do the museum’s exhibits make effective and appropriate use of its collections?
  • Do the collections support the museum’s exhibit program?

Research (for museums conducting or supporting research)

  • Is the quality and extent of research fulfilling the potential of the collections?


  • Do the publications have appropriate goals for communicating with the museum’s audiences and community regarding the collections and do they achieve these goals?

Marketing and Public Relations

  • Are the museum’s collections integrated into the image it presents to the public?

Collections Stewardship

Scope of Collections

  • Are the collections appropriate to the museum’s mission?

Collections Management

  • Is the museum exercising responsible stewardship of the collections?
  • Is the museum making effective use of its resources to provide appropriate care for its collections?

 Acquisitions and Accessioning

  • Is there an effective process guiding the content of the collections?
  • Is the museum functioning legally and ethically in the way it obtains its collections?

Deaccessioning and Disposal

  • Is there deaccessioning that needs to occur and, if so, are there procedures in place to facilitate this?
  • Is the museum functioning legally and ethically in the way it deaccessions and disposes of its collections?


  • Are the museum’s loan activities appropriate to the support of its mission and service of its audience?
  • Are there appropriate procedures to document and safeguard incoming and outgoing loans?

Legal Issues

  • Is the museum exercising oversight to ensure that it is in compliance with any applicable local, state or federal laws and regulations?

Safety as it Relates to the Collections

  • Do museum staff have the knowledge and resources it needs to detect and manage safety issues related to the collections?
  • Are procedures in place that protect staff and visitors from any collections-related hazards?


  • Is the museum maintaining documentation that is sufficient to establish ownership of its collections and to track all associated data?


  • If the museum has a backlog of unprocessed or uncatalogued material, how does this impact the use of space, care of collections and need for resources?
  • Are there plans and procedures in place to manage this backlog?


  • Does the museum have procedures in place to verify what collections it holds, their status, and their location?

Risk Management

  • Does the museum have a sound understanding of what factors pose the greatest risks to the collections it holds?
  • Is the museum exercising appropriate management to mitigate these risks?
  • Are there effective plans and procedures in place to respond to emergencies affecting the collection, and are staff trained in the implementation of these plans and procedures?


  • Does the museum have conservation issues for which it should seek assistance?

Administration and Finance


  • Does staff have a clear understanding of responsibilities as they relate to care of the collection?
  • Does staffing meet the collections-related needs of the institution in terms of:
    • Number of staff?
    • Responsibilities?
    • Training?
  • If not, what additional staff is needed most, and how could the museum obtain the resources to add them?


  • Is the museum in good financial health?
  • Is the museum providing appropriate support for the collections use, care and development?


  • Do the museum’s facilities provide appropriate conditions for collections storage and use?
  • Does the museum have effective policies and procedures for maintaining the facilities in good, safe working condition?

Safety and Security

  • Does the museum’s emergency preparedness address the greatest risks in an effective manner?
  • Does the museum provide a safe working environment for the staff?
  • Does the museum provide a secure environment for the collections?


  • Do governing authority members have a clear and shared understanding of their roles and responsibilities in administering a public trust?
  • Do governing authority members have a clear and shared understanding of the significance of the museum’s collections, the collection’s role in fulfilling the museum’s mission and the governing authority’s role as stewards of the collections?
  • Is the governing authority operating in an effective manner?

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