Reply To: Disposal of non accessioned collection items.

Janice Klein

This is not an unusual problem, so don’t panic 🙂  In the best of all possible worlds we would  be able to take the items we want from a bequest and leave the remainder for the poor executor to deal with.   In this world, museums often end up with the junk as well as the gems.

Just like your deaccession policy for accessioned objects, you should have a formal disposal policy for non-accessioned objects.    You can use your existing deaccession policy as a model, but in any event, it should include a section on who makes the decision, how it is approved and documented, and what your disposal options are.   There’s no reason not to sell non-accessioned items, so long as it follows your policy.   You do need to make sure, however, that, just like in your deaccession policy, whoever makes the decision to dispose of items is prohibited from buying them.

Laraine does bring up an interesting situation, where disposing of unwanted, unaccessioned items is more resource-consuming than storing them.    This is a great point and it would be terrific if we could quantify it every  time the director/board/curator takes in this kind of “mixed” collection.    [Should said person question why you can’t just throw it out, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say, “Ill be happy to do that if you’ll just sign off on the approval?”].