Collections Management as Critical Museum Practice

Edited by Cara Krmpotich and Alice Stevenson

ISBN: 9781800087040

Publication: July 22, 2024

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There is a common misconception that collections management in museums is a set of rote procedures or technical practices that follow universal standards of best practice. This volume recognises collections management as a political, critical and social project, involving considerable intellectual labour that often goes unacknowledged within institutions and in the fields of museum and heritage studies.

Collections Management as Critical Museum Practice brings into focus the knowledges, value systems, ethics and workplace pragmatics that are foundational for this work. Rather than engaging solely with cultural modifications, such as Indigenous care practices, the book presents local knowledge of place and material which is relevant to how collections are managed and cared for worldwide. Through discussion of varied collection types, management activities and professional roles, contributors develop a contextualised reflexive practice for how core collections management standards are conceptualised, negotiated and enacted. Chapters span national museums in Brazil and Uganda to community-led heritage work in Malaysia and Canada; they explore complexities of numbering, digitization and description alongside the realities of climate change, global pandemics and natural disasters. The book offers a new definition of collections management, travelling from what is done to care for collections, to what is done to care for collections and their users. Rather than ‘use’ being an end goal, it emerges as a starting point to rethink collections work.

Cara Krmpotich is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information

Alice Stevenson is a Professor of Museum Archaeology at University College London’s Institute of Archaeology.

List of figures and tables
List of contributors

Section 1: Making and Unmaking Museum Collections

1 Documenting COVID-19: Sensitivity, Care, Collaboration
Ellie Miles and Rosamund Lily West

2 A failure of care – unsettling traditional archival practices
Sony Prosper

3 Deciding Whether to Build a Digital Archive: Lessons from the Jackson Park Project
Tonya Sutherland-Stewart

4 Collecting the Sacred: The Politics of a Religious Dispute Over ‘Black Magic’ Objects in the African Diaspora in Brazil
Bruno Brulon Soares

5 Critical Contexts of Object Marking
Alice Stevenson, Cressida Fforde, and Lyndon Ormond-Parker

6 Humanising Collections Disposal
Jenny Durrant

Section 1 Response: In a multiverse of timelines and possibilities Temi Odumosu

Section 2: A Universal Approach? Accessing, Handling and Enlivening Collections

7 Challenging ableism: including non-normative bodies and practices in collections care
Rafie Cecilia

8 Playing the Odds: The Fine Line Between Keeping an Object Safe and Making it Accessible
Alice Beale and Tom Pyrzakowski

9 Managing a Living Collection: A Study of the Historic Furniture and Decorative Arts Collection at UK Parliament
Emily Spary

10 Gloves in the 21st Century: Beyond the Pandemic Paul Garside, Scott Ratina Nolan, and Cordelia Rogerson

11 A Healthy Aging Approach to Collections Care
Cara Krmpotich

Section 2 response: Claim What is Stored Here
Devorah Romanek

Section 3: Community Brilliance in Shaping Collections Management

12 Decolonizing and Indigenizing the Care and Study of Kapa collections: A Hawaiian Case Study
Halena Kapuni-Reynolds, Kamalu du Preez and Sarah Kuaiwa

13 Shifting Organisational Culture: Developing New Repatriation policy
Anna Russo

14 Kaitiakitanga: Māori Collection Management in Aotearoa New Zealand
Conal McCarthy, Moana Parata, and Laureen Sadlier

15 Reconciling with Ourselves: How Do We Decolonize Collections Management Practices in Museum Spaces and Systems?
Sharon Fortney

16 Handling Collections in the Museum Against Cultural Ethics
Nelson Abiti and Mary Mbewe

17 Decolonizing Collection Management in an Indigenous Ritual House in Malaysia
Yunci Cai

Section 3 response: 'Collections should reflect the relationships we hold'
Nathan Mudyi Sentance

Section 4: Collection Management’s Publics

18 Words Matter: Decolonizing the Registration and Documentation of the Dutch Ethnographic Collection
Cindy Zalm

19 Rebuilding Collection Infrastructure: Thinking Beyond Best Practice Collection Care
Alice Beale

20 Facilitating Community Access to African Collections: Developing Collaborative Practice to Unpack Museum Protocol and Terminologies
Johanna-Zetterstrom Sharp, JC Niala, Juma Ondeng

21 Who Cares: Caring for Art and Artefacts in the Public Realm, Ethical Considerations
Susan Maltby

Section 4 Response: Letting People In, Letting Objects Out: Countering the Dislocations of Collections Management Practice
Ananda Rutherford

Section 5: The Ethics of Sustainability, Preservation and Stewardship in Collections Care

22 Perspectives on Eco-conscious, Resilient, and Sustainable Preservation of Cultural Heritage Collections in the Eastern Mediterranean
Vasilike Argyropoulos (University of West Attica), Dimitrios Karolidis, and Paraskevi Pouli

23 Sustainability and Climate Change at the Australian Museum – Powerful Narratives for Positive Futures
Jenny Newell and Zehra Ahmed

24 Making and Stewarding Digital Collections
Hannah Turner, Reese Muntean, and Kate Hennessy

25 Responses in the Aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake: A Conversation
Fuyubi Nakamura and Hiroyasu Yamauchi

Section 5 Response: The best practice of sustainability and the sustainability of best practices
Josh Yiu

26 Conclusion
Cara Krmpotich and Alice Stevenson


Format: Open Access PDF

510 Pages

45 figs & 1 Table

Copyright: © 2024

ISBN: 9781800087040

Publication: July 22, 2024

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