What We Do Best: Quality Collections Care Practices in Small Museums in Utah
ABSTRACT: Small museums occupy a distinctive niche in the world of museums. They hold unique objects in their collections, exhibit them, and educate the public about them. All museums have the challenge to care for collections in a manner that will enhance their preservation for future generations. Large museums have paid staff and budgets for collections care. Small museums, as used in this study, have one full-time staff person or less, who are often inadequately trained in caring for collections. Nevertheless, they still must work to preserve their collections for the future. In this qualitative study, the grounded theory method was used to identify and recommend quality collections care practices in small Utah museums for developing training programs in collections care. There are small museums that practice aspects of quality collections care. These museums were identified using survey forms and Performance Goals records in the Utah Office of Museum Services. Seventeen staff and employees from 15 small museums were interviewed. The data were analyzed using constant comparative analysis to categorize the comments. Themes emerged in response to two research questions: "What are quality collections care practices in Utah" and "How are staff and volunteers of small museums in Utah trained in quality collections care practices?" Themes from the collections care aspect centered on knowing what you have and caring for what you have. These included use of the PastPerfect Software Program; timely processing of museum objects; and following the museum's mission, security, housekeeping, and preventative conservation. Themes from the training aspect centered on training efforts within the museum, and training received, learned, or gained through efforts outside the museum. These included the Internet for training, sharing information, workshops and conferences, and mentors and networks. Application of the themes to collections care was discussed, including suggestions for implementation. This was followed by a discussion of the role of small museums, volunteers in small museums, state museum organizations, quality collections care practices, and training for collections care. Finally, an alarm was sounded for some serious issues confronting small museums in Utah, ending with recommendations for further study.
School:Utah State University
School Location:USA - Utah
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:collections care small museums volunteers training
Date of Publication:05/01/2008