Reply To: Scope of Collections – "WHY not everything?"

Kaia Landon

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for the tip on the webinar. I’ll add it to my calendar now.

And to clarify, they don’t think we should accept everything, because they do (to some extent, anyway) understand the cost of storing items. It’s more that they don’t understand why we need to limit the scope of what we collect on any basis other than quality.

I’ve tried some limited examples, like we shouldn’t take ancient Egyptian sculpture, because we’d never do anything with it (i.e., we would be unlikely to exhibit it, we don’t have the resources to grow such an area into anything particularly useful for research, etc.), but they can’t get over the “what ifs.” I think they imagine a scenario where a collector/prospective donor sees the limits in our scope of collections statement and decides that instead of giving us a fantastic collection of the finest ancient Egyptian sculpture ever collected, and a billion dollar endowment to care for it, they’ll just pass us by without ever talking to us. I find that unlikely for a variety of reasons, but there are other issues at play there. (Such as: even if we were offered amazing resources, would it be appropriate (and worth it?) to expand our operations in that direction?)

(And we have a history of not having meaningful conversations to that effect, which is why we now also have a natural history museum – a commitment that did not come with the needed resources to run it, nor did it seem to involve a conversation about what would be needed. (I wasn’t here when this happened – just speaking from what I’ve observed in the aftermath.))