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  • for the Nova Scotia Museum

    Tourism and Culture

    CollectionManagement Policy


  • for the Nova Scotia Museum

    CollectionManagement Policy


  • Copies available fromHeritage Division, Nova Scotia MuseumDepartment of Tourism and CultureAttention: NSM Books1747 Summer StreetHalifax, Nova ScotiaB3H 3A6Canada

    Also available online at

    Project TeamChris LavergneHeritage Resource Services, Nova Scotia Museum

    Michelle LelivreMuseum of Industry

    Valerie LenethenHeritage Resource Services, Nova Scotia Museum

    Debra McNabb (chair)Museum of Industry

    Marven MooreMaritime Museum of the Atlantic

    Deborah ScottHistory Section, Nova Scotia Museum

    Alex WilsonMuseum of Natural History

    With assistance fromDavid ChristiansonHistory Section, Nova Scotia Museum

    Bob OgilvieHeritage Resource Services, Nova Scotia Museum

    Stephen PowellHistory Section, Nova Scotia Museum

    Scott RobsonHistory Section, Nova Scotia Museum

    Miles RussellRoss Farm Museum

  • 1.0 INTRODUCTION 61.1 Legal Authority 6




    5.0 ACQUISITION 95.1 Criteria for Acquisition 95.2 Approval Process for Acquisition 95.3 Methods of Acquisition 105.4 Income Tax Receipts and Appraisals 11



    8.0 USE 138.1 Staff Access to the Collection 138.2 Public Use of the Collection 138.3 Working Collection 158.4 Other Materials 158.5 Change in Location 15

    9.0 LOANS 159.1 Loans to the Nova Scotia Museum 159.2 Loans from the Nova Scotia Museum 16

    10.0 INSURANCE 16

    11.0 DEACCESSIONING 1711.1 Criteria for Deaccessioning 1711.2 Conditions for Deaccessioning 1711.3 Process for Deaccessioning 1811.4 Methods of Disposition 1811.5 Communication Plan for Deaccessioning 19

    12.0 REPATRIATION 19


    14.0 POLICY REVIEW 20







  • TThe Nova Scotia Museum (NSM) is a corporate body that operates a provinciallyowned, decentralized museum system. It

    provides Nova Scotians and visitors to the provincewith opportunities to experience and learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Nova Scotia.

    Material evidence of the provinces cultural historyand natural history is the primary resource used bythe NSM. The NSM acquires and preserves artifactsand specimens for study, reference, and presentationto the public, together with information aboutthem. The collection is displayed and stored inpurpose-built and historic buildings in communitiesthroughout the province. (It should be noted thathistoric buildings and structures are not consideredpart of the collection.) The NSM is responsible forpreserving the collection and making it accessible topresent and future generations.

    This policy provides standards and consistency forthe selection, acquisition, preservation, use, anddocumentation of artifacts and specimens in thecollection, and for disposal if necessary. It recognizesthe decentralized nature of the collection and ofcollection management responsibilities, and itconsiders past and present practice, professionaland museological standards, collection managementissues, and planning for the future.

    This policy provides the framework for guidelinesand procedures. These are contained in the CollectionsManagement Policy, Procedures and GuidelinesManual related to this policy, and must be used inconjunction with other Nova Scotia Museum policies.

    1.1 Legal Authority The Nova Scotia Museum, governed by the NovaScotia Museum Act (Chapter 315 Revised Statutes,1989), acts as trustee for the collection. Ownershipof the collection rests with Her Majesty the Queenin right of the Province of Nova Scotia. The NovaScotia Museum also acts as the principal repositoryfor artifacts and specimens collected or seized underthe authority of the provinces Special PlacesProtection Act.

    The Nova Scotia Museum respects the authority ofrelevant municipal, provincial, federal, and interna-tional legislation and conventions applicable tocollection management.



  • TThe Nova Scotia Museum is led by anExecutive Director who oversees fiveoperational units: Heritage Resource

    Services, History Section, Maritime Museum of theAtlantic, Museum of Industry, and Museum ofNatural History. Each has a director. All units havecollection-related responsibilities. Heritage ResourceServices provides advice and support in the area ofcollection management, including registration,conservation, and information management. TheHistory Section manages artifacts associated with theprovinces cultural heritage, including artifacts locatedat 23 sites, and ethnology and archaeology collections.The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic managesartifacts that represent the provinces marine history,while the Museum of Industry focuses on artifactsthat represent the industrial development of theprovince. The Museum of Natural History isresponsible for botany, zoology, and geology collections.In some instances, overlaps and exceptions in theseareas of responsibility occur.

    TThe Executive Director is ultimatelyresponsible for the collection and, throughunit Directors, ensures that collection

    management policies, guidelines, procedures, andstandards are developed and implemented. TheDirector, Manager of Collections, Curator, ordesignate is responsible for ensuring that anyonewho works with the collection is aware of policiesand procedures. Staff and volunteers must followthese procedures and standards in a consistentmanner throughout the Nova Scotia Museum.

    The Code of Conduct for Civil Service in Nova Scotiaprescribes standards for the ethical behaviour of civilservant staff.

    Each unit Director normally delegates responsibility forthe development and preservation of the collection tothe Manager of Collections, Curator, or designate.The collection management sections of the Nova ScotiaMuseum have direct and prime responsibility for theacquisition, preservation, and documentation of thecollection.

    The development, management, and preservation ofthe collection at the Nova Scotia Museums locallymanaged sites are the responsibility of staff in theHistory Section. Where locally managed museumshave designated collection staff, a greater degree ofresponsibility for the collection is delegated.Collection-related responsibilities for both the LocalManagement Group and the Nova Scotia Museumare described in Site Operating Guidelines.

    Staff and volunteers will strive to maintain artifacts,specimens, and collection records in an environmentconducive to preservation. Standards vary accordingto the nature of the collection and display or storageconditions; these will be described in the NSMsCollections Management Policy, Procedures andGuidelines Manual related to this policy. TheManager of Collections, Curator, or designate willensure that the collection is inspected regularly forevidence of damage or deterioration. Any staff memberor volunteer who discovers a preservation problem or




  • damage to an artifact or specimen must documentand report it immediately to the Manager ofCollections or designate.

    All staff and volunteers are responsible for maintainingthe security of the collection. This encompasses lossor breaches of security. Staff and volunteers musdocument and report immediately any confirmedloss or breach of security through the unit Directorto the Executive Director. In some cases (e.g. firearms),legal considerations may require that the police alsobe notified.

    The Manager of Collections, Curator, or designatewill ensure that artifacts or specimens having thepotential to be hazardous to the public, museum staff,volunteers, the environment, or the collection willbe properly handled and stored. All safety regulations(e.g. OHS, WHMIS) must be followed.

    The Manager of Collections, Curator, or designatewill ensure that staff and volunteers who have physicalaccess to the collection are trained in and use appropriate care and handling.

    3.1 Ethics In all activities relating to collection management, anemployee must not be in conflict of interest with thepurposes of the Nova Scotia Museum. If a conflictdevelops, the interests of the NSM will take precedence.

    The Nova Scotia Museum will be guided by establishedprofessional standards and ethics. The Board ofGovernors of the Nova Scotia Museum has adoptedthe Canadian Museums Associations Ethics Guidelines(1999). The current version of this document is partof the Collections Management Policy, Procedures andGuidelines Manual related to this policy.

    Nova Scotia provincial legislation takes precedenceover Nova Scotia Museum policies, and Nova ScotiaMuseum policies take precedence over professionalethical guidelines.

    TThe Nova Scotia Museum collection consistsof specimens and artifacts that represent thenatural history and cultural history of

    Nova Scotia, as well as non-Nova Scotian materialacquired for comparative study. The collection doesnot include historic buildings. The Nova ScotiaMuseum collects in four distinct areas: natural history,marine history, industrial history, and cultural history,including ethnology and archaeology.

    Development of the collection will meet both theimmediate and long-term objectives of the NSM.Development will build on strengths and addressweaknesses of the collection as assessed by appropriatecuratorial staff, and will take into account currentand future projects and needs. Strategies will in


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