Museum Archives Section Standards and Best Practices Working Group Archive


The Museum Archives Section Standards and Best Practices Working was established in 2011 to further activate the Section and to work toward addressing issues important to the section. Inaugurated seven years after the publication of Museum Archives: An Introduction edited by Deborah Wythe, the group’s original, basic premise was to provide resources that expanded upon that publication. The group was disbanded in 2022 after largely achieving that goal through regular symposia at the annual meeting to present results of their annual projects (see below), creating and maintaining the Standards and Best Practices Resource Guide, revising the Museum Archives Guidelines, and in 2022 publishing Museum Archives: Practice, Issues, Advocacy (edited by Rachel Chatalbash, Susan Hernandez, and Megan Schwenke, and featuring chapters authored by a number of Section members), the group was disbanded in 2022. 

Past Projects

Investigation into the Role of the Museum Archivist in the Care and Stewardship of Permanent Records Held Outside of the Archives

 During the 2017-2018 year, the Working Group investigated the role of the museum archivist in the care and stewardship of permanent records held outside of the archives in departments such as curatorial, conservation, and registration. Working Group members conducted nineteen interviews with museum professionals in both archivist and non-archivist roles to investigate current trends in the management, preservation, storage, and access rules of these permanent records and begin to identify best practices for museum archivists. The transcripts of the interviews, along with the results of a survey on the same topic, are located here.

Standards and Best Practices Resource Guide

This online resource guide includes examples of museum archives best practices, such as policies, procedures, and sample forms. We are sharing them in order to help museum archivists create their own guidelines, policies, and procedures. First launched in 2011, the maintenance and improvement of this online collection of best practices is the Working Group’s core project and is regularly updated; the 2016-2017 year’s work is focused on adding and reviewing existing resources for relevance and timeliness.

Advocating for Museum Archives: Personal Essays Project

During the 2014-2015 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. The essays are available here.

Born-Digital Records in Museum Archives

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. We returned to this project during the 2015-2016 year, adding examples of born-digital related forms, training materials, policies, and procedures to our online resource guide. Click here to view the resources.

Past Symposia

Updates from the Floor (2019)

Care and Stewardship of Records Held Outside of the Archives (2018)

Work in Progress in Museum Archives (2017)

Born-Digital Records in Museum Archives (2016)

Museum Archives, Advocacy, and Collaboration (2015)

Electronic Records and Museum Archives (2014)