The Collections Trust is an independent UK-based organisation that works with worldwide museums, libraries, galleries and archives to improve the management and use of collections. It was established in February 1977 as the Museum Documentation Association (MDA) and re-launched as Collections Trust in 2008. Its head office is in South Kensington, London.
Mission and aims
|“||The Collections Trust is the professional association for people working in Collections Management. Our mission is to be the leading organisation in the management and use of collections and technology in museums worldwide.||”|
According to the Collections Trust’s Strategic Plan, the organisation has the following strategic aims:
- Connect the public with collections
- Develop the collections workforce
- Demonstrate the value of good Collections Management
- Build digital capacity for museums, archives and libraries
- Deliver an excellent organisation.
The Collections Trust is also a registered charity (Registered No. 273984). The charitable purposes were set out in 1977 and are:
- To promote the education of the public by the development of museums and similar organisations by all appropriate methods;
- To develop, promote, maintain and improve standards of collections and information management in museums, art galleries, heritage organisations and other collecting institutions;
- To provide services and resources which improve the standards and methods of collections management and use.
Standards and publications
The Collections Trust developed the SPECTRUM Standard – the Museum Collections Management Standard – in 1994. The standard details how to manage collections and what to do with artefacts at each stage of their lifecycle in a collection. The Standard is now in its fourth edition and is used by the majority of museums. It has been translated into several languages including Dutch and Flemish.
The organisation also produces collections management best practice guides and benchmarking tools. It has particular expertise in digital collections management and the use of new technology for museums, such as 3D imaging. Many of its resources are freely available on its website.
The Collections Trust hosts a number of practical workshops and seminars for Collections Management professionals and an annual conference, called OpenCulture. At this conference the Collections Trust’s Awards are presented. Previous award winners include:
- Collections Practice Award – Victoria & Albert Museum
- Collections on a Budget Award - Museum of British Surfing
- Collections Practice Award - Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
- Collections on a Budget Award - East Grinstead Museum
- Participatory Practice Award - Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
- Collections Practice Award - Museum of London
- Collections on a Budget Award - Hayle Oral History Project
- Participatory Practice Award - Public Catalogue Foundation
- Enterprise in Museums Award - Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
- Collections Manager of the Year Award - Jamie Everitt of the Norfolk Museums Service
- Young Collections Professional Award - Jenny Webb of The Lightbox
The Collections Trust works on many projects that are funded by Arts Council England and by the European Commission. It is currently managing 20m Euros worth of EC projects, including Athena Plus, Digital Cultural Heritage Roadmap for Preservation (DCH-RP), EEXCESS, EU Collections Competencies Project (EUColComp), Europeana Food and Drink and Europeana Inside. The Collections Trust leads the UK’s involvement in the Europeana project.
- 1977 Martin Porter
- 19__ Andrew Roberts
- 1989 Wendy Sudbury
- 1997 Louise Smith
- 2004 Nick Poole (CEO from 2008)
Current board members
- Nick Merriman (Chair), Director of the Manchester Museum
- Simon Cane, Interim Director, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
- Jane Carmichael, Director of Collections, National Museums Scotland
- Steve Crossan, Former Head of the Google Cultural Institute
- Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker, Head of Collections, Science Museum, London
- David Howarth, Lecturer in Land Economy, Law and Economics, University of Cambridge and former Member of Parliament for Cambridge
- Rachael Rogers, Curator, Abergavenny Museum
- Bill Thompson, Technology Writer and BBC Online Columnist
- Janet Vitmayer, Chief Executive, Horniman Museum and Gardens
The early team at the MDA was led by Martin Porter and included researchers Andrew Roberts (who later became head of the MDA) and Richard Light. Early achievements included the production of the Social History and Industrial Classification Scheme (SHIC) in 1983 (in partnership with the SHIC Working Party), the MDA Data Standard in 1991, and the SPECTRUM standard in 1994.
- Holm, S: Social History and Industrial Classification Scheme