Collections Management as Critical Museum Practice

Edited by Cara Krmpotich and Alice Stevenson


ISBN: 9781800087064

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, digitisation 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

Introduction: collections management is/as critical practice
Cara Krmpotich and Alice Stevenson

Part I: 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 and how to build a digital archive: lessons from the Jackson Park Project
Tonya Sutherland-Stewart

4 Collecting the sacred: the transition of diasporic objects in between museum regimes
Bruno Brulon Soares

5 Bane and boon: critical contexts of object marking
Alice Stevenson, Cressida Fforde and Lyndon Ormond-Parker

6 Humanising collections disposal
Jennifer Durrant

Part I Response: In a multiverse of timelines and possibilities... Temi Odumosu

Part II: 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 working collection: the Historic Furniture and Decorative Arts Collection at the Palace of Westminster
Emily Spary

10 Gloves in the twenty-first century: beyond the pandemic
Paul Garside, Scott Ratina Nolan and Cordelia Rogerson

11 A healthy ageing approach to collections care
Cara Krmpotich

Part II response: Claim what is stored here
Devorah Romanek

Part 3: Community brilliance in shaping collections management

12 On language, access and practitioners: beginning a conversation on decolonising and indigenising the care of kapa collections at Bishop Museum
Halena Kapuni-Reynolds, Kamalu du Preez and Sarah Kuaiwa

13 Shifting organisational culture through repatriation policy
Anna Russo

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

15 Reconciling with ourselves: how do we decolonise 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 Decolonising collection management in an indigenous ritual house in Malaysia
Yunci Cai

Part III Response: 'Collections should reflect the relationships we hold'
Nathan Mudyi Sentance

Part IV: Collection management’s publics

18 Decolonising the registration and documentation of the Dutch ethnographic collection
Cindy Zalm

19 Rebuilding collection infrastructure: thinking beyond best practice collection care
Alice Beale

20 Methodologies for international access and collaborative collections research in museums: challenges and opportunities Johanna-Zetterström Sharp, JC Niala, Juma Ondeng

21 Public art and artefacts – who cares: caring for art and artefacts in the public realm; ethical considerations
Susan L. Maltby

Part IV Response: Letting people in, letting objects out: countering the dislocations of collections management practice
Ananda Rutherford

Part V: The ethics of sustainability, preservation and stewardship in collections care

22 Eastern Mediterranean perspectives on eco-conscious, resilient and sustainable preservation of museum collections and heritage sites in Greece
Vasilike Argyropoulos, Dimitrios Karolidis and Paraskevi Pouli

23 Object stories in support of sustainable futures: tackling climate change at the Australian Museum
Jenny Newell and Zehra Ahmed

24 Making and stewarding digital collections: case studies and concerns
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

Part V Response: The best practice of sustainability and the sustainability of best practices
Josh Yiu

26 Conclusion
Cara Krmpotich and Alice Stevenson


Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

548 Pages

45 figs & 1 Table

Copyright: © 2024

ISBN: 9781800087064

Publication: July 22, 2024

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