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? Here we'll explore how museums go about making this type of change, considering it is a difficult and sometimes controversial thing, as well as an important part of maintaining a collection. 

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 future visitors. When the SCMA decides to remove an object from its collection, the staff members involved have 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

Click on these links or one of the artworks below to see what these ideas look like when put into practice at the SCMA.
Also, check out these additional sources on deaccessioning in museums. 

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