Name of Museum:
The National Army Museum (NAM)
Name of governing body:
The Council of the National Army Museum
Date on which this policy was approved by governing body:
14 July 2016
Policy review procedure:
The collections development policy will be published and reviewed from time to time, at least once every five years. This Policy supersedes and cancels all earlier and existing policies, practices and customs.
Date at which this policy is due for review:
13 July 2021
Arts Council England (ACE) will be notified of any changes to the collections development policy, and the implications of any such changes for the future of existing collections.
The policy for agreeing acquisitions is:
- It is the aim of the National Army Museum to be the best possible repository for collections of national and international importance relating to the history of 'Our Army', as defined in the Museum's Royal Charter (159KB).
- The National Army Museum shall be the proper and sole judge when deciding whether objects should be acquired for the Collection. With the exception of accumulations of greater extent than ten cubic metres, the Council of the National Army Museum has delegated to the Director General the collecting, including purchasing, and disposing of items in accordance with this Policy. On a day-to-day basis, decisions relating to the acquisition of new material for the Collection will usually be taken by the Collections Development Group (CDG). This cross-departmental group will meet once a month under the chairmanship of the Assistant Director (Collections). He or she has the right to cast the deciding vote in the unlikely event a consensus is not reached. All decisions will be minuted and archived. Potential acquisitions of printed books and journals will be made by the Head of Academic Access.
- In particular, the Museum will not acquire any object or specimen unless it is satisfied that the object or specimen has not been acquired in, or exported from, its country of origin (or any intermediate country in which it may have been legally owned) in violation of that country's laws. (For the purposes of this paragraph 'country of origin' includes the United Kingdom.)
- In accordance with the provisions of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which the UK ratified with effect from 1 November 2002, and the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003, the Museum will reject any items that have been illicitly traded. The Council and Director General will be guided by the national guidance on the responsible acquisition of cultural property issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2005, and any subsequent editions or relevant legislation.
- All items donated to or purchased by the National Army Museum become the absolute property of Council of the National Army Museum, whether formally accessioned or not. Every effort will be made to acquire the intellectual property rights (where these still exist) in items at the time of acquisition. The inability to achieve this, particularly if caused by undue complexities and/ or disputes among the owners or alleged owners of the rights, may result in the acquisition process being terminated.
- Council reserves the right to require a 'dowry' of money, staff or premises (or any combination thereof) as a condition of accepting any item or items for the Collection.
- In the interests of propriety, items will never be purchased for the Collection from serving Members of the NAM Council, Honorary Officers, serving members of the NAM Staff, volunteers, trainees, interns, contractors, serving Trustees of the NAM Development Trust, and serving Officers and Council Members of the Society of Friends of the National Army Museum, or partners or business associates of any of the above. A period of seven years will run from the date that a person ceases to be in any of the above categories before the Museum will consider purchasing items from them.
16. Disposal procedures
By definition, the Museum has a long-term purpose and holds collections in trust for society in relation to its stated objectives. The Council of the National Army Museum therefore accepts the principle that sound curatorial reasons for disposal must be established before consideration is given to the disposal of any items in the Museum's collections. It is necessary periodically to assess the continuing relevance of items in the collections to ensure that they fall within the Royal Charter (159KB).
The following procedures only relate to items which are the legal property of the Council of the National Army Museum. The Council does not have authority to dispose of artefacts owned by third parties (i.e. loans) or any artefact where the NAM's legal title is uncertain.
- All disposals will be undertaken with reference to the SPECTRUM Primary Procedures on disposal.
- The Council of the National Army Museum will confirm that it is legally free to dispose of an item. Agreements on disposal made with donors will also be taken into account.
- When disposal of a museum object is being considered, the NAM will establish if it was acquired with the aid of an external funding organisation. In such cases, any conditions attached to the original grant will be followed. This may include repayment of the original grant and a proportion of the proceeds if the item is disposed of by sale.
- When disposal is motivated by curatorial reasons the procedures outlined below will be followed and the method of disposal may be by gift, sale, exchange or as a last resort - destruction.
- The decision to dispose of material from the collections will be taken by the Director General only after full consideration of the reasons for disposal. Other factors including public benefit, the implications for the Museum's collections and collections held by museums and other organisations collecting the same material or in related fields will be considered. Expert advice will be obtained when required and the views of stakeholders such as donors, researchers, local and source communities and others served by the Museum will also be sought.
- The main curatorial reasons for considering disposal will be when an item:
- has deteriorated beyond economic repair
- is dangerous, and/ or has become a health and safety hazard or a hazard to other objects within the collections
- has been found to be a duplicate, where the terms of acquisition permit the disposal of one example
- does not fall within the terms of the Royal Charter (159KB) and/ or this Policy, or is unsuitable for retention for other curatorial reasons
- when an individual or organisation has better legal title than the Council of the National Army Museum.
- A decision to dispose of a specimen or object, whether by gift, exchange, sale or destruction (in the case of an item too badly damaged or deteriorated to be of any use for the purposes of the Collection or for reasons of health and safety), will be the responsibility of the Director General acting on the advice of the Acquisition & Disposal Committee of Council and the Collections Development Group. The signatures of the Chair of the Acquisition & Disposal Committee, the Director General, Assistant Director (Collections) and the Registrar will be required on each Disposal Form.
- Once a decision to dispose of material in the Collection has been taken, priority will be given to retaining it within the public domain. It will therefore be offered in the first instance, by gift or sale, directly to other Accredited Museums likely to be interested in its acquisition.
- If the material is not acquired by any Accredited museum to which it was offered as a gift or for sale, then the museum community at large will be advised of the intention to dispose of the material normally through a notice on the MA's Find an Object web listing service, an announcement in the Museums Association's Museums Journal or in other specialist publications and websites (if appropriate).
- The announcement relating to gift or sale will indicate the number and nature of specimens or objects involved, and the basis on which the material will be transferred to another institution. Preference will be given to expressions of interest from other Accredited Museums. A period of at least two months will be allowed for an interest in acquiring the material to be expressed. At the end of this period, if no expressions of interest have been received, the Museum may consider disposing of the material to other interested individuals and organisations giving priority to organisations in the public domain.
- Any monies received by the Museum governing body from the disposal of items will be applied solely and directly for the benefit of the collections. This normally means the purchase of further acquisitions. In exceptional cases, improvements relating to the care of collections in order to meet or exceed Accreditation requirements relating to the risk of damage to and deterioration of the collections may be justifiable. Any monies received in compensation for the damage, loss or destruction of items will be applied in the same way. Advice on those cases where the monies are intended to be used for the care of collections will be sought from the Arts Council England.
- The proceeds of a sale will be allocated so it can be demonstrated that they are spent in a manner compatible with the requirements of the Accreditation standard. Money must be restricted to the long-term sustainability, use and development of the collection.
- Full records will be kept of all decisions on disposals and the items involved and proper arrangements made for the preservation and/or transfer, as appropriate, of the documentation relating to the items concerned, including photographic records where practicable in accordance with SPECTRUM Procedure on deaccession and disposal. These will be recorded on the NAM's Disposal Form.
- Serving Members of the NAM Council, Honorary Officers, serving members of the NAM Staff, serving Trustees of the NAM Development Trust, NAM volunteers, trainees, interns, contractors (unless on behalf of new owner or for secure destruction) and serving Officers and Council Members of the Society of Friends of the National Army Museum, or partners or business associates of any of the above will not be permitted to acquire, by purchase or otherwise, objects that have been de-accessioned or otherwise disposed of (if not formally accessioned) directly from the NAM collections.
Disposal by exchange
- The Museum will not dispose of items by exchange.
Disposal by destruction
- If it is not possible to dispose of an object through transfer or sale, the Council of the National Army Museum may decide to destroy it.
- It is acceptable to destroy material of low intrinsic significance (duplicate mass-produced articles or common specimens which lack significant provenance) where no alternative method of disposal can be found.
- Destruction is also an acceptable method of disposal in cases where an object is in extremely poor condition, has high associated health and safety risks or is part of an approved destructive testing request identified in NAM's research policy.
- Where necessary, specialist advice will be sought to establish the appropriate method of destruction. Health and Safety risk assessments will be carried out by the Collections Standards and Care Manager where required.
- The destruction of objects will be witnessed by an appropriate member of staff. In circumstances where this is not possible, e.g. the destruction of controlled substances, a police certificate will be obtained and kept with the Disposal Form.