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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 99 - April 2008

Museum Matters - Roy Miller - Curator

In the last qn we discussed our Museum Management Committee and its responsibilities and described in detail how our collections are divided. We should now consider the paperwork required of all this and the process by which items enter our collection.

All Registered Museums must abide by a code of practice and specific conditions relative to their individual Registration. All this needless to say involves much paperwork, but like all administration paperwork it serves a purpose and is designed to cover many situations not always evident at the time.

The Museum Association has designed two basic forms, an Entry Form and an Exit Form. Each has three copies, a top white copy, a yellow copy and a blue copy; all are self-duplicating so only the top copy has to be written on.

When anything is donated, purchased, or otherwise enters our collection, the person representing our Society must complete an Entry Form: Curator or member of the MMC, Stationmaster, etc. This must state the full name and address of the donor and a full description of each item being considered, together with any copyright restrictions or other liabilities. We are no longer able to accept any items on loan except from another accredited museum for a specific purpose of limited duration (an Exit Form will have been filled in by the other museum).

We also record as much detail and history of the items as possible. This aids considerably to its value when we come to display it, but also helps us satisfy ourselves as to the authenticity and legal ownership of the item. It is generally not possible to accept conditions relating to a donation, but the donor may wish to add any special requests or notes such as, donated in memory of father, a railwayman of 40 years service to the GWR, etc.

The person filling in the form then signs and dates it and asks the donor to do the same. The donor is then given the blue copy of the form as a receipt.

The two remaining copies, the white and yellow, are passed on to the Curator or other authorised member of the Management Committee. Those persons must satisfy themselves that: 1. The item is a suitable item for inclusion in our collection; 2. Its authenticity is as stated on the form; 3. Its legal ownership is as stated and can be passed onto our Society. They must then decide which category the item comes under if it is to be accessioned or listed. Each category of our collection has a Daily register from which an accessioned or listed number is obtained. A detailed description is entered about the item and its history or anything else of interest but not the name and address of the donor or how the item was obtained; only the Entry form number is recorded. Often photographs or thumb nail sketch is added as a means of identification. The issuing of an accession number is the legal acceptance into our collection. We are under no obligation to accept anything until it has been given this number. All accession numbers and listed numbers (HB/XX in the case of books) are copied onto the Entry Form. The item is then marked in an inconspicuous place with its number, usually in paint or indelible ink felt pen. Documents are also marked, great care being taken to do this in an inconspicuous place.

A decision must then be made what to do with the items at the present time; place on display, showcase or wall, etc, place into store pending display, or very rarely no accession number and return to donor. All this must be recorded on the Entry form and signed and dated by the person making out the form.

The Location registers are bound books with a List of each accession number. Once the decision has been made and a location found, an entry is made against each number; shelf 2 rack 3, display case 4", wall Oxford Room, etc. Each has a number of columns so that if the item is moved the location can be updated.

We have a standard letter which is then sent to the donor of all items, thanking them for their donation and asking, if they think of anything else relating to what they have donated to let us know. The letter also lists the accession number we have allocated as a reference for further correspondence and the donor's records.

Last but not least is the Museum Register, a bound hardback book suitably gold embossed, one for each of our listed collections; Working Relics, Small Relics, Documents and Photographs. These are the legal proof of our ownership. All entries must be made by hand with a special, long lasting ink. under their relevant accession number. Each entry lists the Entry Number and a brief description of the items but not in as much detail as is contained in the Daily Register. These registers cost us £80 each, five years ago, but in our case we were able to get a grant when setting up our Registration. Museum Registers must be updated at least once per year.

Most professional museums nowadays replace their Daily Register with a computer, which may well also include photographic images and are able to cross-reference and do all of the other clever things that computers can do. Some have unofficially given up doing the hand written Museum Registers, but at the present time our computer records in our line of business have not been accepted in a Court of Law.

Entry Forms are regarded as confidential and stored as such. The white copies are retained in our Museum but the yellow copies must, for security reasons, be kept in a place away from the Museum. It will thus be seen that only an entry number is available for general reference. The name of the donor of any item is not available as general information but does remain on permanent record within our collection.

Exit Forms are similar to our Entry Forms and are only used to record items leaving our Collection, permanently or temporarily. Perhaps an item is stolen or loaned to another approved museum for a short period for a special exhibition, etc.

More detail about our Collection itself and our stated Collection and Disposal Policy next time.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 2008 and so does not reflect events in the 6+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Museum Matters - Roy Miller - Curator - Quainton News No. 99 - April 2008

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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