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Bring out the full value of your collections

Your collections have value, but to make best use of them, you must know exactly what you have and where it is.

Our museum professionals provide hands-on expertise to help you gain greater intellectual control of your collections. When you’re facing projects that are not routine, such as conducting a collections assessment, performing inventories, moving to new facilities, or upgrading your museum collection management systems, we can help you expertly plan for and navigate them. We routinely work with trusted partners, anticipate issues, and bring such projects to completion on time and within budget—getting your collections in a better state than when you began.

Your collection has value; we help you bring its full value to light.

Organizations like NARA’s Office of Presidential Libraries, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Levi Strauss & Co. have trusted us with their collections. We would treat your collections with the same high level of care and attention.

Benefit from our experience! Call us at (301) 279-9697 or contact History Associates to discuss your project.

Services include:

Collections Strategy and Documentation

  • Developing and implementing museum collections management policies and procedures
  • Developing selection criteria for collections
  • Assessing collections to ensure proper documentation and preservation
  • Conducting collections research / documenting provenance
  • Recording institutional knowledge of collections

Collections Management System Consulting

  • Creation and management of collections inventories and databases
  • Development of standard operating procedures to museum standards and/or your industry requirements
  • Museum database software evaluation, selection, and implementation
  • Data standardization, migration, and import
  • Bar code integration

Collections Management Support

  • Relocation planning and project management
  • Collections inventories and assessments
  • Collections cataloging, reorganization, and rehousing for fine art, historical artifacts, medical collections, and natural history specimens
  • Supervision and tracking the movement of artifacts and specimens
  • Digital imaging

Take advantage of our diverse capabilities

Are you planning a new exhibition to correspond with your move? We can integrate the management of your collections with our exhibit content development team. Is your museum cataloging project a component of a larger archival assessment? Our professional archivists are ready to assist. Our diversified staff is capable of assisting you on a wide variety of projects.

Get started today

For more information about our capabilities, please explore our case stories and call us at (301) 279-9697 or contact History Associates to discuss your collections management project.

What is museum collections management?
Museums, organizations and individuals that have items of historical, scientific, or cultural significance need a way to safeguard their collections. Collections management fills this need. It is a strategy and method for protecting, organizing, and retaining physical and intellectual control over items (e.g., fine art, historical objects, archaeological artifacts, medical collections, natural history specimens). It improves access and use of the collections for display as part of an exhibit, for research, and for educational programming. Here are some tactics, actions and strategies that are often employed as part of collections management:

  • Developing policies and procedures for the collection.
  • Ensuring proper documentation and preservation of the collection items.
  • Evaluating, selecting, and implementing a collection management system (CMS).
  • Creating accession and catalog records for the collection.
  • Maintaining an inventory and database of the collection contents.
  • Conducting research and recording institutional knowledge of the collection.
What does a collections manager do?
Collections managers are in charge of artifacts, specimens, and objects that have cultural, scientific or historical significance. As part of their scope of work, collections managers are in charge of cataloging and inventorying collections, conducting a collection assessment, coordinating any move of existing collections to a new facility and also making recommendations for upgrades to the collections management systems (CMS). A collections manager typically handles the following tasks:

  • Museum collections strategy and documentation.
  • Developing policies and procedures for the collection.
  • Ensuring proper documentation and preservation of the collection items.
  • Collection Management System (CMS) evaluation, selection and implementation.
  • Creating catalog records, inventories and databases for the collection.
  • Conducting research and recording institutional knowledge of the collection.
What should I look for in a collection management system (CMS)?
Museums and cultural institutions manage a diverse array of collections, capture different types and levels of collection data and put their databases to use in a wide variety of ways, so it is important to choose the collection management system (CMS) that best fits the needs of your particular organization. CMS databases vary in the way that they organize different types of information. Some are better for uniform collections while others enable the user to categorize by photos vs. video archives, archaeological sites, etc. When selecting a CMS, be sure to find one that matches or can scale to the size and scope of your collections. Also, consider any restrictions that a CMS may have with your collection. Here are some other items to consider when selecting a CMS:

  • Conduct an in-house needs assessment to determine the intended user groups.
  • Ensure that the assessment includes every intended user.
  • Determine areas in which a CMS can increase your museum’s efficiency, and then leverage these functions to help your organization reach its established goals.
  • Determine the size of your current collection and its potential growth, as well as your staffing capabilities.
  • Create an estimated budget that includes the initial installation of the new CMS as well as ongoing maintenance, implementation, file transfers and any other future or ongoing costs associated with the CMS.
  • Ensure the CMS has the ability to track the movement of objects at many different levels.
  • Examine the reporting and information dissemination capabilities.
  • Find out what type of metrics the CMS provides to users.
  • Test the CMS before committing to a purchase.
  • Find out if the CMS vendor offers maintenance or system support agreements.
  • Determine if you have government or other regulatory policies that the CMS or its hardware must adhere to.
  • Ensure that the CMS will integrate into your current IT environment.
  • Research the CMS company and ensure it is one that you are comfortable entering into a long-term relationship with.
Service Type
Collections Management
Provider Name
History Associates Inc.,
300 N. Stonestreet Avenue,Rockville,MD-20850,
Telephone No.301-279-9697
United States
History Associates provides expert advice and assistance for a wide variety of museum collections management projects, from creating databases to managing collections relocations.
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