Scope of Collections – “WHY not everything?”

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      We are working on a scope of collections statement, and I’m running into a problem with some of my board members (and one of my staff!). With regards to our historical collections, they see the value in limiting the scope. With the art collection, however, I’ve lost them. They seem to acknowledge (some of them, anyway) that we should not be collecting all of the art in the world, but they are nevertheless hesitant to approve any restriction.

      Since our mission statement, with regard to our art collection, is rather vague, that’s not helping here either.

      They are generally of the belief that if someone tries to give us something that we shouldn’t have, either I’ll say no upfront, or the collections committee will decline the gift at that stage. My rebuttal that those decisions need to be based on the scope of collections statement isn’t getting me anywhere.

      So, how can I convince them that “everything in the whole world” is not an acceptable limitation, and that there is good reason to limit it?

      I have tried to emphasize that this will not be the scope of collections statement for the next 3 million years – it will change as the needs and resources of the museum change.

      Anyone have suggestions on how to get them thinking in a more productive manner? Small art museums with scope of collections statements to share (preferably that are neither just the very local area, nor the whole world)?

      (Up til now, art collecting here has been very random, and mostly “yes” to everything. It has resulted in a collection that lacks depth and meaning.)

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