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.
According to Collections Trust’s Strategic Plan, the organisation has the following aims:
|“||Collections Trust’s mission is to be the leading organisation in the management and use of collections and technology in museums, libraries and archives by 2015.
Our vision is that we will work with galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) in the UK and internationally to help them use collections and technology to achieve excellence, innovate and engage their audiences.
Standards and publications
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 Collections Link website.
Collections Trust hosts an annual conference for collections management professionals, called Open Culture. At this conference the Collections Trust’s Awards are presented. These include awards for Collections on a Budget, Participatory Practice, and Collections Practice.
The organisation also manages an annual initiative called Hidden Treasures. In 2012 and 2013, it worked with The Independent to promote the initiative, which sees museums across the UK putting on special events and behind-the-scenes tours for the public.
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 Europeana Inside, Partage Plus, Athena Plus, Linked Heritage and Enumerate. 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
- Margaret Greeves (Chair), Tutor and Fellow, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge
- Simon Cane, Interim Director, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
- Jane Carmichael, Director of Collections, National Museums Scotland
- 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
- Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives
- 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