Skip to content

Capitalization of Collections

Capitalization is the act of establishing and noting the cash value of assets on an institution’s financial reports. Museum collections are not assets and are, therefore, treated differently from other museum property. Permanent collection objects are held in trust for the benefit of present and future generations to meet the institution’s fiduciary purposes. While these items may have a monetary value prior to acquisition, once they become part of a museum’s permanent collection, that monetary value becomes secondary to their importance in enhancing understanding of our world and ourselves. The Alliance has compiled this set of collections capitalization resources from throughout the nonprofit and museum sector.

AAMD Policy on Deaccessioning

This 2015 policy on deaccessioning from the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) defines deaccessioning and includes a policy statement – “directors of member museums should not capitalize or collateralize collections or recognize as revenue the value of donated works.”  (note: in September 2022 AAMD voted to change its policy regarding the use of deaccession proceeds to include direct care).

Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) offers information about Statement 34, which establishes new financial reporting requirements for state and local governments throughout the United States.

The Capitalization of Collections Ethics Position Paper #1

The AASLH provides its position paper on the capitalization of collections in which they assert that collections should not be considered financial assets.

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add to your safe sender list.