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Collections Care

Collections care involves the careful management of change to cultural materials. Caring for museum collections while on display, in storage, in transit, on loan and when undergoing conservation treatment is a core function of sound collections management. The Alliance has compiled this set of collections care resources from amongst its own offerings as well as those throughout the nonprofit and museum sector.

Alliance Resources

A New Look at Conservation Standards

Museum magazine looks at changes in environmental conditions and standards (including the 50/70 standard), and the practical difficulties of sustaining relative humidity and temperature.

Other Resources

The following resources were compiled from organizations throughout the nonprofit and museum sector. AAM reviewed and approved each one based on the organization’s authority and expertise and the resource’s usefulness related to the topic. Clicking the links below will take you off the AAM website.

Abstracts of International Conservation Literature

The Getty Conservation Institute maintains AATA Online: Abstracts of International Conservation Literature. This comprehensive, international database has more than 100,000 abstracts of literature related to the preservation and conservation of material cultural heritage.

Basic Preservation Considerations

The Minnesota Historical Society shares guidelines on preservation considerations, which focus on temperature and relative humidity, light, air quality, water, fire, insects, mold, and security (PDF, 17 pages).

Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) presents its Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. The document sets forth the principles that guide conservation professionals in the care of cultural property.

Collections Care

The Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists (ARCS) compiled this series of short videos from around the world. Watch registrars and collections managers perform basic collection care practices such as condition reporting, assessing collections management systems, object handling, and more.

Collections Care Manual

This series of 12 instructional videos from the Western Australian Museum provide information on general conservation techniques.

Connecting to Collections Care Resources

The Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) shares webinars and other resources related to collections care.


The Minnesota Historical Society shares a variety collections conservation information online including basic storage guidelines, salvage procedures for wet collections, storage and packaging video demonstrations, disaster recovery resources, and case studies for specific conservation treatments.

Conserve O Grams

The National Park Service provides these short, focused leaflets about caring for museum objects, published in loose-leaf format.

Condition Reporting

This guide to condition reporting from the Museum of New Zealand provides a clear-cut and easy to use format and covers examination, handling, and how to identify damage (PDF, 24 pages).

Damage and Deterioration – Visual Glossary

The Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material shares a wonderful website that offers visual representations of various conservation concerns that affect art and cultural artifacts. Great to use when condition reporting.

Museum Conservation Institute

This Smithsonian lead initiative is the center for specialized technical collection research and conservation for all Smithsonian museums and collections.

Preservation Briefs

The National Park Service (NPS) has more than 40 Preservation Briefs that offer guidance on preserving, rehabilitating, and restoring historic buildings. Topics include repointing mortar joints, using aluminum and vinyl siding, repairing wooden windows, dangers of abrasive cleaning, reducing lead paint hazards, and preserving ornamental plaster, slate roofs, log structures, and adobe buildings.

Preventive Conservation Guidelines for Collections

These guidelines come from the Canadian Conservation Institute and cover a broad range of topics including caring for archaeological collections, ceramic and glass objects, vehicles and beyond.

Preservation Tech Notes

The National Park Service (NPS) has Preservation Tech Notes that use case studies to illustrate preservation problems and solutions using traditional practices and innovative techniques. More than 45 Tech Notes are available on topics such as exterior woodwork, historic glass, mechanical systems, metals, and windows.

Preservation Leaflets

The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) has a number of preservation leaflets focused on storage and handling and simple conservation procedures that can be performed by a non-conservator. Topics include storage enclosures, over-sized paper artifacts, matting and framing, surface cleaning, removal of damaging fasteners, and other basic conservation treatment procedures.

Preservation Self-Assessment Program

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Preservation Self-Assessment Program (PSAP) is a free online tool aimed at helping collection managers prioritize efforts to improve the condition of collections.

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