Collections Documentation Policy

13th February 2015

Date Approved 26th March 2015

Date for Review February 2016


Documentation underpins every aspect of museum activity. Recording collection information is central to being accountable for the collections, their accessibility, management, research, study and use.

Our policy for the documentation of the collections is to ensure that the information we hold relating to the collections is accurate, secure, reliable and accessible.


The aim of this Policy is to ensure that we fulfil our guardianship, stewardship and access responsibilities. Through implementation of this policy our objective is to:

·         know at any time exactly what items we are legally responsible for (this includes loans as well as permanent collections), and where each item is located;

Many of our existing records are paper-based. In order to improve access and accountability, we will enter all new records onto computerised databases. Over time and in a phased programme, we will convert our older paper records to a computerised format, ensuring also that copies are kept in a safe separate location.

We take a common-sense approach as to the level to which we document material. Ideally for the majority of the collections we will document to individual item level. However, for certain bulk collections it is neither feasible nor practical to document the material in this detail, and we will document items at group level. We therefore aim to have a basic ‘inventory’ record for all identified items and groups within the collection, whilst some items will be documented to a more detailed ‘catalogue’ level.


All requests for information will be considered in terms of compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and Data Protection Act (1998). We will review requests for confidential data such as donor information, valuations or site details on a case by case basis, and in accordance with the applicable legislation and any legal agreements or conditions of gift.


We have in place measures to ensure the physical security and long-term preservation of all documentation records, whether paper or computerised. We will update all manual and computerised records as appropriate.monthly backups will be made to secure digital data. Where collection information is wholly computerised we will make backup copies of all key files, and where considered appropriate, house them securely off-site.