The Collections Trust is an independent UK-based charity that works with museums, libraries, galleries and archives worldwide to improve the management and use of collections. It was established in February 1977 as the Museum Documentation Association (MDA) and re-launched as the Collections Trust in 2008. Its head office is in South Kensington, London.
Mission and aims
|“||The Collections Trust is the professional association for collections management. Established in 1977, it is a UK-based charity that works with museums, libraries, galleries and archives worldwide to improve the management and use of their collections. It does this by providing know-how, developing and promoting excellence, challenging existing practices, pioneering new ideas and bringing experts together. .||”|
The Collections Trust is 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. 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)
- 2015 Kevin Gosling 
Current board members
- Nick Merriman (Chair), Director of the Manchester Museum
- Steve Crossan, former Head of the Google Cultural Institute
- Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker, Head of Collections, Science Museum, London
- Jane Henderson, Senior Lecturer in Collections Care and Conservation Practice, Cardiff University
- David Howarth, Lecturer in Land Economy, Law and Economics, University of Cambridge and former Member of Parliament for Cambridge
- Sarah Levitt, Head of Arts and Museums, Culture and Neighbourhood Services, Leicester City Council
- Tonya Nelson, Head of Museums and Collections, University College London
- Deborah Potter, Head of Conservation, Collection, Tate
- Susan Raikes, Head of Learning, Audiences and Volunteers, The British Museum
- Rachael Rogers, Curator, Abergavenny Museum
- Irene Walsh, former Managing Director, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services
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.
- Collections Trust, Registered Charity no. 273984 at the Charity Commission
- "SPECTRUM". Collections Trust. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
- "Collections Trust’s Awards". Collections Trust. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "Museum of British Surfing". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "East Grinstead Museum". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "Hayle Oral History Project". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "Norfolk Museums Service". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "Athena Plus". Retrieved November 2013.
- "Digital Cultural Heritage Roadmap for Preservation". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "EEXCESS". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "EU Collections Competencies Project". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "Europeana Food and Drink". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "Europeana Inside". Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "Nick Poole". Collections Trust. Archived from the original on 28 March 2014.
- "Kevin Gosling". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "The Board". Collections Trust. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- Holm, Stuart A. "Social History and Industrial Classification Scheme". Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2009.