Our Collections Policies
The offer of artifacts to the Museum, and the acceptance of those artifacts by the Museum, whether as acquisitions (items owned by the Museum as part of its permanent collection) or loans (items temporarily in the custody of the Museum, to be returned later to the lenders), is known as accessioning. Artifacts are items of historical significance or interest, and include letters, diaries, ledgers and account books, ephemera, other documents, photographs, maps, engineering and architectural diagrams, blueprints, books and other printed material, clothing and other fabrics, tools, machines, furniture, and other items.
The Curatorial Director, or someone designated by the Curatorial Director, has the authority to accept or refuse artifacts offered to the Museum. Artifacts shall be accepted or refused based on their appropriateness, size, condition, and redundancy to the Museum’s collection.
The Museum collects artifacts that depict or represent: (a) the lives and experiences of workers, manufacturers, craftspeople, consumers and other people involved in the textile industry and textile arts in Connecticut; (b) the cultures of the ethnic groups involved in the textile industry and textile arts in Connecticut; (c) preindustrial and industrial textile equipment, tools, and implements.
When the Museum first accepts a donation or loan, a representative should complete an Accession Sheet and give a copy to the donor or lender. All artifacts that are donated or lent together should be kept together throughout accessioning.
Acquisitions should be placed in the Museum’s Processing Area for processing, along with the Accession Sheets. At that point, they may be assigned temporary Accession Numbers.
Loans should be placed in the custody of the Curatorial Director or the Executive Director, along with the Accession Sheets.
The Museum does not accept long-term or open-ended loans. The Museum only accepts loans for limited and specific periods of time, either for particular exhibits or to be reproduced.
The Museum takes reasonable precautions to protect artifacts accepted on loan, including keeping or exhibiting the artifacts in secure and fire-protected areas.
If the Museum is unsuccessful, after using its best efforts for twelve (12) months, in returning borrowed artifacts to the lender, the ownership of such items shall pass to the Museum, to be treated as if the artifacts had been donated to the Museum as acquisitions.
II. Deaccessioning and Disposal
DEFINITIONS. “Deaccessioning” is the process used to remove permanently an object from the Museum’s collection or to document the reasons for an involuntary removal (one required by law or due to circumstances not controlled by the Museum). “Disposal” is the official mode of transferal.
PURPOSE OF DEACCESSIONING. Normally, accessioned objects are held in perpetuity as long as they support the Museum’s mission; retain their physical integrity, identity, and authenticity; and they can be properly stored, preserved, and used. However, deaccessioning, when carried out in an appropriate manner and with thoughtful consideration, is an integral part of responsible collections management. This policy governs deaccessioning and disposal of previously accessioned objects, including “found objects,” held by the Museum.
Only the Curatorial Director with the concurrence of the Collections, Exhibits, and Education Committee has the authority to approve deaccessions from the collection.
In the case of an object with a market value over $1,000, the Board of Directors must also approve.
All decisions will be made pursuant to state and federal law.
The Curatorial Director, or a collections curator designated by the Executive Director, is responsible for researching all legal and ethical considerations surrounding a proposed deaccession.
The Curatorial Director, or a collections curator designated by the Curatorial Director, is responsible for maintaining all written documentation regarding the deaccession and disposal process.
Only the Curatorial Director with the concurrence the Collections, Exhibits, and Education Committee has the authority to approve the mode of disposal.
Objects may be considered for deaccessioning under one or more of the following circumstances:
The object does not support the mission of the Museum.
Inadequate documentation or absence of documentation (including provenance) critically reduces the cultural or historic value or significance of the object.
The object has deteriorated and is no longer of any cultural or historic value.
The object represents an unacceptable hazard to personnel or to other collections.
The object has been approved for repatriation under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
The Museum is instructed to deaccession the object by the owner, e.g., a state agency that owns historical collections.
The object has been destroyed or damaged to the extent that it no longer conforms to the Museum’s accessioning criteria.
The Museum can no longer properly store or preserve the object.
The Museum has one or more other objects similar to or the same as the object in question, rendering it redundant.
The Museum determines that another non-profit or public museum, agency, or archive would be a more appropriate place for the object.
Disposal of collections through sale, trade, or research activities is solely for the advancement of the Museum’s mission. Any object that has been selected and approved for deaccessioning should be transferred or disposed of as follows (this list is not hierarchical and does not imply an order to follow):
Exchange or Donation: Museums or educational institutions should be contacted regarding the suitability of the items for exchange or donation depending on the nature of the items. In the event of shipping costs in excess of $15, the recipient institution is expected either to pay for the cost of shipping, or to pick up the object.
Transfer: Consideration will be given to placing the object in the Museum Education Collection.
Return to Donor(s): If the donor or donors requested that the object be returned to them in the event that the Museum no longer wanted it, then the Museum will make good faith efforts to respect the donor’s wishes. Good faith efforts will include notifying the donor(s) at the address provided by the donor(s) at the time of donation and waiting at least three months for a reply. If the cost of shipping the object to the donor exceeds $25, the Museum will expect the donor(s) either to pick up the object or to pay for the cost of shipping it.
Sale: In accordance with American Association of Museum policy, specimens in the collection may be used to enhance the overall quality of the Museum by deaccessioning for sale. Deaccessioning of an object for sale is a serious matter that should only be undertaken after considerable deliberation. Among the issues to be taken into consideration are: the object’s potential use in research, education and exhibition, the possible impact of deaccession on future donations, and the object’s status under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. Proceeds from the sale of collections are to be used consistent with the established standards of the Museum’s discipline, but in no event shall they be used for anything other than supporting the Museum. Except in instances where deviation is intended to advance an appropriate public benefit, such as deaccessioning for sale to another public museum, objects deaccessioned for sale will be disposed of by the most profitable means. Objects purchased with money acquired from the sale of collection material may be attributed to the original donor(s).
Destruction: If the object cannot be disposed of in any of the above manners, it shall be destroyed by the Executive Director or his/her designee. Destruction is defined as the obliteration of an object or specimen by physical or mechanical means. Prior to destruction, the object will be evaluated to ascertain whether it contains any hazardous materials. If any hazardous materials exist, the object will be destroyed in accordance with all federal or state laws and/or environmental health and safety procedures. This disposal method must be both documented and witnessed.
Deaccessioned objects will not be given, exchanged, or sold privately to employees of the Museum, members of the governing authorities or to their representatives, members of Museum support groups, or volunteers.
The Museum is required by the Internal Revenue Service to hold donations for a minimum of three years in consideration for donors making a declaration for tax purposes.
If donor-imposed conditions restrict disposal, the Museum may offer the object to the donor(s) or donor’s family in lieu of disposal.
DEACCESSION AND DISPOSAL PROCEDURES.
The Curatorial Director, or a collections curator designated by the Executive Director, will identify an object for deaccession/disposal based on the criteria above.
The Curatorial Director, or a collections curator designated by the Curatorial Director, will investigate all legal and ethical considerations surrounding the proposed object(s).
The Museum must hold free and clear title to the object, or the object must be a “found object” as defined in the Museum’s accessions policy. In the case of a “found object,” a reasonable and good faith effort will be made to determine the object’s accessions history before disposal occurs. A reasonable and good faith effort will include documenting how long the object has been in the Museum’s collection, examining Museum correspondence, asking long-term or former staff, and/or contacting likely potential donors.
There must be no restrictions placed on the use of the object (e.g. copyright, MOA/MOU, trust agreements, donor-imposed restriction, etc.).
The Curatorial Director, or a collections curator designated by the Curatorial Director, will prepare all required paperwork, including a Deaccession & Disposal form.
The Curatorial Director with the concurrence of the Collections, Exhibits, and Education Committee will determine the method of disposal, taking into account the reason for deaccessioning. The Curatorial Director and Curatorial, Exhibits, and Education Committee will exercise their best reasonable and good faith judgment on a case-by-case basis, taking into account such factors as the monetary and/or historic value of the object, expenses related to shipping, historical relevance of the object to the collections of other museums, agencies, or archives, etc.
The Curatorial Director, or a collections curator designated by the Curatorial Director, will remove or cross-out the Museum catalog or accession number from the object prior to disposal.
The Curatorial Director, or a collections curator designated by the Curatorial Director, will modify catalog and accession files and database entries to reflect the change in status of the object and the change in monetary value, if any, for the collection; the records will not be deleted or removed but maintained intact for future reference.
The Curatorial Director, or a collections curator designated by the Curatorial Director, will place all documentation in the proper departmental files, where they will remain as part of the permanent record.