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Deaccessioning and Disposal

The practice of deaccessioning an object is the act of formally removing that object from the museum’s permanent collection. Once an object is deaccessioned it can then be disposed of by various means. The Alliance has compiled this set of deaccessioning and disposal resources from amongst its own offerings as well as those throughout the nonprofit and museum sector.

Alliance Resources

Deaccessioning Activity Guide

The Alliance shares an activity guide that facilitates discussion to determine how well a collections plan and collections management policy help make decisions about deaccessioning. The activity also assesses the appropriateness of deaccessioning and the decision-making process. The activity is one of many designed by the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) as part of the self-study process. It ranks highly with program participants and has been used in over 2,000 assessments.

Direct Care of Collections

The Alliance shares the full white paper on Direct Care of Collections as well as information on the Direct Care Task Force and other information related to using funds derived from the disposal of deaccessioned collections.

Mastering Your Museum’s Core Documents Toolkit

This toolkit offers guidance on the needed resources to successfully revise or draft your museum’s core documents. With it comes a combination of tools, guidelines, and action plans to help you understand the importance of—and required elements for—each of the five documents required for Core Documents Verification.

Sample Documents

The Alliance provides Tier 3 museum members with sample disposal forms.


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.

Deaccessioning

The National Park Service’s (NPS) Museum Handbook (PDF) has a chapter on deaccessioning. The 59-page chapter has an overview of the issues, details the decision-making process and required documentation, and discusses issues such as theft, destruction, abandonment, and hazardous objects. The chapter also includes flow charts and forms, such as those used for deaccession, transfer, exchange, and repatriation.

Policy on Deaccessioning and Change to deaccessioning rule

Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) shares its Policy on Deaccessioning (PDF, 12 pages). In September 2022, AAMD changed the approved use of funds from deaccessioned art to allow funds generated by the sale of deaccessioned art to be used for direct care of objects in a museum’s collection, with a very specific definition of “direct care.” This change brings AAMD’s policy in alignment both with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)–and provides a specific definition for “direct care.”

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