Standards & Best Practices Resource Guide

Over the past five years, the Museum Archives Section Standards and Best Practices Working Group has gathered examples of museum archives best practices, such as policies, procedures, and sample forms. We have focused on the full range of activities that museum archivists perform. As a result, our best practices range from sample administrative policies to arrangement and description documentation to interviews with our colleagues about their progress with electronic records.

Born Digital Resources:
During the 2015-2016 year the Working Group added materials related to born-digital records to our existing online resources guide. Working Group members collected examples of forms, training materials, policies, and procedures. Click here to view the resources.

Advocating for Museum Archives: Personal Essays Project:
During the 2014-2105 year, we issued a call to museum archivists for personal narrative essays answering the question, “what does being a museum archivist mean to you?”  A diverse group of Section members, ranging from seasoned professionals to colleagues just beginning their careers, volunteered to contribute. We believe that the essays will help us continue to articulate our roles within our institutions, local communities, and the archives field.  The essays are available here.

Electronic Records Project:
For the 2013-2014 year, the Working Group focused its work on the topic of electronic records. We investigated the state of the field in two parts. First, we wanted to understand what our colleagues in museum archives had accomplished with electronic records. We surveyed museum archivists at all stages of electronic records program development, conducting interviews with museum archivists between November 2013 and August 2014. Second, we developed a working bibliography consisting of links to guidelines, articles, and tools to help museum archivists begin their electronic records work. You can access the interviews and bibliography here.

Best Practices according to the Museum Archives Guidelines:
The resources below are organized according to the Museum Archives Guidelines. We are sharing them in order to help museum archivists create their own guidelines, policies, and procedures.

1. Definitions and Scope
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Collection Development Policy, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Collection Management Policy, Whaling Museum Society, Inc.
Objective Statement, Metropolitan Museum of Art

2. Mission Statement
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Mission Statement, Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
Mission Statement, Independence Seaport Museum
Mission Statement, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Mission Statement, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Mission Statement, Museum of Modern Art
Mission Statement, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Mission Statement, New York Transit Museum
Mission Statement, Oshkosh Public Museum
Mission Statement, San Diego Air and Space Museum
Statement of Purpose, Newark Museum
Statement of Purpose, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

3. Status of the Archives
(see Definitions and Scope)

4. Professional Archivist
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Director

Archives Director
Archivist & Chair, Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Director of Archives, Libraries, and Special Collections
Director of Library and Archives, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Staff

Archivist, Connecticut Historical Society
Archivist, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Assistant Archivist
Associate Archivist
Associate Archivist, San Diego Aerospace Museum
Digital Archivist
Processing Archivist
Records Manager
Senior Archivist, Yale Center for British Art

5. Museum Records and Personal Papers
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Collection Development Policy, Lowell Observatory Collection
Institutional Records Policy, Museum of Modern Art
Procedures Manual, The Children's Museum

6. Acquisition Policy for Collected Materials
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Collection Policies

Collecting Policy and Procedures, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Manuscript Collections Collection Development Policy, Museum of Modern Art

Deed of Gift

Archives, Libraries, & Special Collections Deed of Gift, The Barnes Foundation
Deed of Gift, National Museum of Women in the Arts
Deed of Gift, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Gift Agreement, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
Letter of Agreement, Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College
Model Deed of Gift, National Archives and Records Administration
Oral History Deed of Gift, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

7. Criteria for Retention of Museum Records
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Records Disposition Schedule, National Park Service
Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, Cleveland Museum of Art
Records Retention Schedule, Connecticut Historical Society

8. Current Records
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Institutional Records Policy, Museum of Modern Art
Policy for Records, Cleveland Museum of Art
Records Management Manual (includes schedules), Philadelphia Museum of Art
Records Management Policy (includes schedules), The Barnes Foundation
Records Retention Policy (includes schedules), North Tonawanda History Museum
Records Management Policy, Baltimore Museum of Art
Records Management Manual (includes schedules), National Museum of Women in the Arts

9. Location and Conditions
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Conservation and Disaster Recovery Resources, National Archives and Records Administration
Emergency Preparedness and Recovery Plan, Minnesota Historical Society
Records Disaster Plan, Virginia Military Institute
Self-Planning Manual for Disaster Prevention, Response and Recovery In Libraries, Museums, and Cultural Institutions, Central New York Library Resources Council

10. Arrangement, Description, and Preservation of the Records
Section last updated 7 August 2014

Archivists' Toolkit Manual, Metropolitan Museum of Art
General Processing Guide, Brooklyn Museum
Guide to the Records of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Brooklyn Museum
Manual for Creating Finding Aids, Benson Ford Research Center
Museum Handbook, National Park Service
Processing and Cataloging Manual, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Processing Manual, The Historic New Orleans Collection
Standard Series for Administrative/Curatorial Records, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Transcription Guide, Metropolitan Museum of Art

11. Access
Section last updated 28 July 2015

Registration Forms

Reader Registration Form, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Research Registration Form, National Museum of Women in the Arts
Research Registration Form, Connecticut Historical Society

Access Policies

Access Policy, Museum of Modern Art
Access Policy, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Access Policy and Procedures, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Collections Access Policy, Museum of the City of New York
Rare Materials Rules, Connecticut Historical Society (includes duplication)
Reading Room Guidelines, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Williams Research Center
Regulations, Connecticut Historical Society(includes duplication)

Outreach Documents

Blog Posts and Exhibitions, Museum of Modern Art
Brochure, Currier Museum of Art
Brochure, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art
Class Tour Handout, Museum of South Texas History
Exhibitions, National Museum of African Art
Newsletter, Oyster Bay Historical Society
Postcard, American Museum of Natural History
Postcard, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Program Description, St. Ambrose University

Duplication and Photography Request Forms

Duplication Form, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Duplication Work Order, National Museum of Women in the Arts
Permissions for Collections Research Photography, Connecticut Historical Society
Photocopy and Digital Photography Policy and Form, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Publications Permissions Policy

Publications Permissions Policy, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Social Media Policy

Social Media Policies, National Archives
Social Media Policy, Smithsonian Institution

S&BP Working Group Members (2015-2016)

Holly Deakyne
Ryan Evans
Sarah Haug
Tara Hart 
Emily Perkins 
Dawn Sueoka
Jennifer Whitlock
Brian Wilson

Co-Chairs
Rachel Chatalbash
Susan Hernandez

If you are a Museum Archives Section Member who would like to become a member of the Standards and Best Practices Working Group, please contact the Working Group co-chairs.