Creating a Collection: A Tour Through the Smith College Museum of Art

How Museums Remove Objects from their Collections

So you want to take an object out of your collection? How do museums go about making this type of change, considering it's an important part of maintaining a collection, and also a difficult and sometimes controversial thing? 

First, let's keep in mind what we know about "public trust." Museums don't just think about who visits in the present day, but they also think about the future a lot. When the SCMA decides to remove an object from its collection, it has to be very careful in deciding HOW to deaccession. 

Museums have to follow a precise series of steps, as outlined by the American Alliance of Museums' Code of Ethics for Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors' Policy on Deaccessioning. These include...

1. Careful consideration and approval
2. Sale or transfer of objects
3. Purposeful use of funds

Check out these additional sources on deaccessioning in museums. 


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