Skip to main content

Museum Standards Program

Workbook one links and resources

Section One: Managing the Museum

STANDARD A1.1 The museum is properly constituted.

What is it?

Link

This publication looks at legal issues for collecting institutions.

Simpson, Collections Law, chapter 1 ‘Structures and Governance’ (2008)

An online resource designed to help create ‘more efficient, more responsive and responsible community boards in Australia’, this document outlines the responsibilities of a governing board, risk management and accountabilities.

Boards, Committees and Governance Centre, Code of Governance for the Australian Community Sector

The Book of the Board has become Australia’s standard reference book for board and committee members of non-profit organisations. It provides clear guidance on the role of the board, formal and legal responsibilities, and the ways in which the board can maximise its effectiveness for the organisation.’

Fishel, The Book of the Board The Federation Press, 2008

Museums Australia (Victoria) offer this handy template for writing a collections policy – good for first timers, but also if revising a previous document. We suggest however that your museum considers including reference to either the ICOM or Museums Australia code of ethics in your collections policy

Museums Australia (Victoria) Collections Policy Template

Collection Policy Example

St Helens History Room, Example document: Collection Policy

Collection Policy example

Bass Strait Maritime Centre, Example document: Collection Policy

STANDARD A1.2 The museum has a governing or managing body that takes overall responsibility for the museum.

What is it?

Link

An online resource designed to help create ‘more efficient, more responsive and responsible community boards in Australia’, this document outlines the responsibilities of a governing board, risk management and accountabilities.

Boards, Committees and Governance Centre, Code of Governance for the Australian Community Sector

The Book of the Board has become Australia’s standard reference book for board and committee members of non-profit organisations. It provides clear guidance on the role of the board, formal and legal responsibilities, and the ways in which the board can maximise its effectiveness for the organisation.’

Fishel, The Book of the Board: effective governance for non-profit organisations, The Federation Press, 2008

‘Separated into two volumes for ease of reference, Guide for Meetings and Organisations is an authoritative text dealing with the setting up and running of non-profit associations, and the proper conduct of meetings.’

Renton, Guide for Meetings and Organisations, vol. 2, Thomson Reuters Australia, (2005)

‘Best practice network for the members of Australian not-for-profit boards, committees and councils and the senior staff who support them.’

The Institute of Community Directors Australia

STANDARD A1.3 The museum maintains contact with relevant peak bodies and networks.

What is it?

Link

The state representative of the peak body for museums in Australia

Museums Australia (Tasmania)

The over-arching body advocating for and supporting best practice in museums across Australia

Museums Australia

The organisation that represents and supports the needs of Historical Societies across Australasia

The Federation of Australasian Historical Societies Inc.

ICOMOS are the international peak organisation advocating for and supporting heritage sites and monuments

International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

The peak international organisation representing museums

International Council of Museums

The peak professional body for conservators in Australia. This group can be used by non-conservators for further information on collections care or finding a professional conservator.

Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM)

The peak professional body for visual artists.

National Association for the Visual Arts

These organisations can help with the marketing of your museum, and with information on tourism opportunities in your region.

Your local tourism organisation such as Destination Southern Tasmania, Tourism Northern Tasmania, or Cradle Coast Tourism Authority.

STANDARD A1.4 The museum operates in accordance with a recognised code of museum ethics.

What is it?

Link

These two documents set out the ethical responsibilities for any Australian museum, large or small.

Museums Australia Inc. Code of Ethics for Art, History and Science Museums, 1999

International Council of Museums (ICOM) Code of Ethics for Museums, 1986

This document offers a one page, easy-to-read summary of the minimum ethical requirements for Australian museums.

South Australian Community History, Code of Ethics (Museums Australia) a summary

STANDARD A2.1 The museum has a written Statement of Purpose.

What is it?

Link

This guide was produced by the peak museum body in Australia to assist small museums and galleries with their operations.

Museums Australia, Museum Methods: a practical guide for managing small museums and galleries(2002), section 1.3

A guide to strategic planning for small museums, taking you through the process from start to finish.

Colbert, Strategic Planning Manual, Museums Australia (1998)

A set of practical guidebooks to caring for collection types from leather to photographs and paper for museum staff and volunteers.

Heritage Collections Council, reCollections (1998), chapter 4, pp. 9-13

This guide explains ways to revitalise or develop a new art gallery in regional Australia.

Moore, Purpose: an Australian regional gallery and venue development guide, Art on the Move, (1998)

Museums Australia summarises what a museum is and how it functions, including science centres, galleries, keeping places and other collecting organisations.

Museums Australia, ‘What Is a Museum?

STANDARD A2.2 The museum works to formal, written policies and procedures that cover its management, responsibilities, programs and services, and reflect its Statement of Purpose.

What is it?

Link

This template guides your museum through the forward planning process from start to finish through asking a series of questions.

Museums Australia (Victoria), Forward/strategic planning template

This template can be used to compare with an existing document or can be filled out and used as the guide for a new Induction Kit. It outlines the responsibilities of volunteers to the museum, and the museum to their volunteers, role statements, application forms, induction agreement forms and information on how to deal with grievances.

Arts Tasmania, Museum Induction Kit for Volunteers, template

‘This guide identifies the various questions and factors that need to be taken into account during the planning process and acts as a checklist for further action.’

Regional Galleries of New South Wales, A Checklist for Planning a Regional Gallery

‘Better Boards Australasia connects the leaders, chief executive officers, board members and senior management teams, of Australasian not-for-profit organisations to the knowledge and networks necessary to grow and develop their leadership skills and build a strong governance framework for their organisation.’

Better Boards, Reviewing your constitution

STANDARD A2.4 The museum uses an effective information and records management system.

What is it?

Link

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the independent national regulator of charities. They offer a variety of templates for governance issues such as how to put together meeting minutes and annual reports.

Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, Templates

Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, Privacy Policy

Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, Keep Records

The Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), which are contained in schedule 1 of the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act), outline to handle, use and manage personal information.

Australian Information Commissioner, Australian Privacy Principles

‘Every year in Australia many community groups organise their records, photographs and other material into an archives. This book will help aspiring archivists embarking on such a project. Basic archival principles and terms are explained in plain English. Practical advice is provided on deciding which records to keep, and organising, storing and preserving them. Access and promotion of archives are also covered.’

National Archives of Australia Keep it for the Future!

STANDARD A2.5 The museum uses sound financial management and reporting practices and procedures, and is financially viable.

What is it?

Link

This webpage outlines measures launched in 2011 to help Commonwealth agencies prevent and combat fraud.

Australian Federal Police, Fraud

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the independent national regulator of charities. They offer a variety of templates for governance issues such as how to put together meeting minutes and annual reports.

Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, Templates

Museums and Galleries NSW is the NSW branch of Museums Australia. ‘Image licences are an important part of copyright and allow copyright owners to set out exactly how they would like their work to be used. As a museum or gallery you may receive requests to use or publish images to which you own the copyright. This can include photographs of events, objects in the collection or displays or the building and premises. An image licence helps clarify how others can use these images, especially when licensing fee is involved.’

Museums and Galleries NSW, Image License Template

Creative Partnerships Australia ‘offer expertise and practical advice on arts philanthropy, fundraising and partnerships.’ The factsheets here include guides to crowdfunding, a tax guide for arts organisations, philanthropy and sponsorship.

Creative Partnerships Australia, Factsheets

STANDARD A2.6 The museum identifies and assesses risks and has strategies in place to manage them.

What is it?

Link

This web page gives case studies for how risk is assessed and managed at the Museum of London, STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway, and the Museum of Gloucester, and a risk assessment template your museum can use for events and exhibitions.

South Western Federation of Museums and Galleries, UK, Risk Assessment

Museums & Galleries Queensland is the Queensland branch of Museums Australia. ‘This fact sheet will help you to develop a Risk Management Policy and systems to implement it.’

Museums & Galleries Queensland, Risk Management

Museums & Galleries NSW is the NSW branch of Museums Australia. 'Risk management involves the identification, measurement, control and minimisation of risks within your organisation. It is a process that requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation. The purpose of risk management is to make the museum, gallery or keeping place a safe place to work in and visit. It is an essential decision-making tool for managing risks to health, the environment and the collections.’

Museums & Galleries NSW, Risk Management

Safe Work Australia is the Commonwealth agency for work safety. ‘The information on the website outlines ways volunteers can meet their work health and safety duties and explains what volunteers can expect from the organisations they volunteer for.’

Safe Work Australia, Volunteers and the new Work Safety Laws

Work Safe Tasmania is the State Agency for work safety. Safety Advisors provide a free, confidential work safety audit to your business or organisation. The Safety Management Tool Kit takes you through check lists for different kinds of risks, and your organisations’ obligations regarding new staff and volunteers.

Work Safe Tasmania, Safety Advisors

Work Safe Tasmania, Safety Management Toolkit

Volunteering Australia is the peak body for volunteering and volunteer management.

Volunteering Australia, Running the Risk? Risk management tool for volunteer involving organisations

NAVA is the peak industry body for the visual arts in Australia. ‘The Code is an essential professional tools for the negotiation of contracts, agreements and entry conditions, and for the explanation of the business protocols and procedures of the visual arts, craft and design sector.’

National Association for the Visual Arts, Code of Practice (Insurance)

STANDARD A3.2 The museum defines and communicates the duties, rights and responsibilities of the museum and its workers.

What is it?

Link

This template can be used to compare with an existing document or can be filled out and used as the guide for a new Induction Kit. It outlines the responsibilities of volunteers to the museum, and the museum to their volunteers, role statements, application forms, induction agreement forms and information on how to deal with grievances.

Arts Tasmania, Museum Induction Kit for Volunteers, template

Volunteering Australia is the peak body for volunteering and volunteer management.

Volunteering Australia, Volunteering Roles Toolkit

Fair Work Australia offer ‘information and advice about your workplace rights and obligations.’ Their templates and guides include job descriptions and other steps towards employing staff.

Fair Work Ombudsman Australia, Templates and Guides

STANDARD A4.3 The museum conserves, maintains, protects and documents its assets.

What is it?

Link

‘Building Safety is a unit of the Community Fire Safety Division and its role is to ensure that fire safety measures in certain buildings are maintained.’

Tasmania Fire Service, In the Workplace

Section Two: Involving People

STANDARD B1.1 The museum includes a range of people in its operations and programs.

What is it?

Link

Museums & Galleries NSW is the NSW branch of Museums Australia. ‘Providing inclusive and appropriate access to collections, exhibitions and resources is one of the primary goals of a museum or gallery. It is quite common for organisations to focus on the physical aspects of access - getting into and moving around the building and not realise how much broader barriers to access can be. Improving access across a broad range of issues will create a more welcoming environment and lead to greater and more diverse visitation.’

Museums & Galleries NSW, Introduction to Access(2007)

‘One in five Australians has some type of disability. People with disabilities represent a large, diverse and important audience for museums and galleries. The aim of this study to give voice to the views of visitors with disabilities and suggest ways in which museums and galleries can better support their access needs.’

Landman et al., Many Voices Making Choices: museum audiences with disabilities Australian Museum, (2005)

Museums Australia is the peak body for museums in Australia. Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities outlines the ethical obligations and protocols for museums working with Indigenous communities and their collections.

Museums Australia, Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities: Principles and guidelines for Australian museums working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage(2005)

‘The Access for All Toolkit enables a museum, library or archive to examine goals and key factors which are essential for an organisation that aspires to include everyone. Once these have been assessed, areas for improvement can be identified and action points drawn up and monitored.’

Lang, Access for All’ Toolkit: Enabling Inclusion for Museums, Libraries and Archives(2004)

This guide was produced by the peak museum body in Australia to assist small museums and galleries with their operations.

Museums Australia, Museum Methods(2002), sections 1.3, 8.1 & 8.2

 

Jones, Community, Culture and Place : a local government handbook for museums / editor, Shar Jones ; prepared by the Museum Studies Unit, The University of Sydney and Museums Australia (NSW) Inc.(2000)

‘Museums Australia accepts as a general principle that all Australians have the right to see elements of their culture preserved and interpreted in museums.’ This policy outlines the obligations all Australians share, living in a multicultural society, and our museums’ responsibilities to share their stories and material culture in collaboration with culturally diverse groups within our society.

Museums Australia, Cultural Diversity Policy(2000)

‘Traditionally museums have represented the interests of the dominant groups in our society, and have tended to privilege the lives and experiences of men over those of women. In response to changing community standards, museums in Australia have begun to address a broader spectrum of interests and concerns, reflecting the culturally diverse nature of Australian society and the vital contribution of women.’

Museums Australia, Women’s Policy for Museum Programs and Practice(2000)

‘Historically, their stories and cultural history have been largely ignored, forgotten or repressed but with growing self-identification, the gay and lesbian communities are now seen as an important part of the culturally diverse matrix of Australian society. For some in the museum profession, the issues tackled by the policy will not be new but for many they will represent a first encounter. The policy is aimed at those museum professionals who are seeking to position themselves and their institutions in a culturally diverse nation.’

Museums Australia, Gay and Lesbian Policy Guidelines for Museum Programs and Practice(1998)

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011 Census Data Tasmania

This Commonwealth publication ‘explores how cultural and heritage organisations wanting to observe cultural and heritage principles can build visitor numbers and work with the tourism industry.’

Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Tourism with Integrity(1999), p. 55

This guide shows ‘how to retain current volunteers and plan for new ones.’

Museums & Galleries NSW, Volunteer Succession Planning: a how-to guide

STANDARD B3.1 The museum knows who its current and potential audiences are and has strategies to attract and retain them.

What is it?

Link

The Australian Bureau of Statistics collect summarise their findings on aspects of Australian life like cultural heritage organisations.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Information Paper: Towards Comparable Statistics for Cultural Heritage Organisations (2008)

This beginner’s guide walks you through how to conduct and use quantitative and qualitative audience research.

Creative Victoria, Audience Research Made Easy

Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners is a Paul Hamlyn Foundation programme to facilitate active partnerships between museums and their local communities in the UK. They have produced five short inspirational films as resources on museum development.

Our Museum, Evaluation and external voice

Creative Victoria is Victoria’s state government organisation that supports Victoria’s arts and create industries. Visitor Research Made Easy walks arts organisations and museums through designing visitor surveys and interpreting the data you collect.

Creative Victoria, Visitor Research Made Easy

‘The Australian Museum’s Audience Research Unit’s objectives are to undertake research into visitor experiences and learning issues, and feed information into program development, policy and planning.’

They publish resources on audience research, visitor experiences and learning in museums on their web page.

Australian Museum, Audience Research Unit

Example research enquiry form

Maritime Museum of Tasmania, Get Help with Your Research (research enquiries procedures and form example)

STANDARD B3.5 The museum offers visitors a welcoming experience, and its workers respond appropriately to visitor enquiries and feedback.

What is it?

Link

‘Museums would be dull and quiet places if nobody came to look at them. Museums rely on visitors to keep them open, relevant, vibrant and informed. A Visitors Services Policy outlines how visitors are managed and ensures that all are welcomed and encouraged to enjoy the experience of visiting the museum. It also makes certain that appropriate facilities are provided for the comfort and safety of visitors.’

Community Museums Program South Australia, Visitor Services Policy: guidelines to writing

‘Businesses earn your long-term support because they exceed your expectations. They treat you with respect. They make you feel that you are the most important part of their business. They go the extra mile to win your loyalty and, in return, you keep going back to them.’ This guide asks if that is how you want your visitors to feel about your business, and suggests steps to help visitors feel that way.

Business Tasmania, The Importance of Customer Service

This short article describes how one business has considered their customer’s needs and in so doing has made an ordinary trip to the shops something to really look forward to, differentiating themselves from their competitors in the process.

Christine Hepburn, Customer Service from the heart, not from a manual, Business Tasmania.

‘Quite simply, more and more museums are putting themselves in their “customers’ shoes.” They are adopting both the mind-set and infrastructure to do what it takes to make visitors want to come, to feel welcome when they arrive, cared for and engaged during their stay. And by the time they leave, they’re eager to return.’

Service to people: Challenges and rewards, how museums can become visitor centred, Lila Wallace Reader Digest Fund

This short article describes how working front of house at a museum can be exhausting and under-valued, but also gives workers the best possible view of how visitors experience and use the museum – something that is often forgotten by staff who never meet the people they are there to serve: the public.

Museum 2.0, Should everyone work in the front line as part of their career?

This short piece sums it up by saying ‘without customers there would not be a business’, before outlining a further six crucial benefits to having excellent customer service at the National Maritime Museum UK.

National Maritime Museum Queens House UK, Why excellent customer service is important

Section Three: Building a Significant Collection

STANDARD C1.1 The museum develops its collection to reflect its unique purpose and the significant stories and interests of its diverse and changing communities.

What is it?

Link

Museums Australia (Victoria) offer this handy template for writing a collections policy – good for first timers, but also if revising a previous document. We suggest however that your museum considers including reference to either the ICOM or Museums Australia code of ethics in your collections policy.

Museums Australia Victoria, MAP Collection policy template

South Australian Community History offer this alternative guide with detailed explanations of various terms.

South Australian Community History, Collection Policy Guide to Writing

Museums and Galleries NSW outlines the practical uses of having a collection policy and its purpose as a guiding document of any museum.

Museums and Galleries NSW, Collection policies

Museums Australia Victoria have created this step by step manual of cataloguing collections: ‘the industry-standard reference for community museums wishing to start or develop their collections cataloguing…This user-friendly, full-colour edition has been fully revised to include guidance on using cataloguing software on computers, ‘how to’ examples of worksheets and up-to-date lists of useful resources.’

Museums Australia Victoria, Small Museums Cataloguing Manual

Written by Kylie Winkworth, Significance 2.0 is one of the most influential publications on museum practice, describing objective criteria for describing the significance of an object or a collection, and how to use the rich information gained through researching and documenting your collection.

Australian Government, Department of Communication and the Arts, Significance 2.0

‘The purpose of preparing a collection summary is to create a basic record of the significance of the museum’s collections. It is a useful way of defining the museum’s collection strengths and weaknesses in relation to its historical context and acts as a prompt to articulate the overall significance of the museum collection and/or groups of items.’

South Australian Community History, Collection Summary form

Museums Australia Victoria have produced this worksheet to be used as a template for community museums.

Museums Australia Victoria, Cataloguing Worksheet

STANDARD C1.3 The museum aims to have unconditional legal ownership of its collection.

What is it?

Link

These two guides walk your museum through essential acquisition procedures that transfer ownership of an object from the previous owner to the museum, including documenting important information that might otherwise be lost or forgotten.

Museums and Galleries of NSW, Acquisition Fact Sheet

Western Australian Museum, Guide to Acquisition and Accessioning Procedures

This template can be adapted by museums to legally document a donation and transfer of ownership.

South Australian Community History, Sample Donation Form

STANDARD C1.4 The museum has an effective system to record and retrieve information about its collection.

What is it?

Link

Museums Australia Victoria have created this step by step manual of cataloguing collections: ‘the industry-standard reference for community museums wishing to start or develop their collections cataloguing…This user-friendly, full-colour edition has been fully revised to include guidance on using cataloguing software on computers, ‘how to’ examples of worksheets and up-to-date lists of useful resources.’

Museums Australia Victoria, Small Museums Cataloguing Manual

These guides offer over-views of the benefits of using a computer database to catalogue your collection, their limitations, kinds of programs available and the questions to ask when planning to purchase one.

Museums & Galleries of NSW, Computer Cataloguing Databases

Museums & Galleries of NSW, Collection Management Systems

STANDARD C2.1 The museum makes decisions on preventive conservation based on current conservation advice and practices.

What is it?

Link

These documents all guide museum volunteers and staff through creating a collections management or preventive conservation plan for a collection.

Museums Australia Victoria, Conservation Planning

Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, Plan and prioritise for Collections Care

History Victoria, Conservation of Collections and Collection Management Plans

This series is a comprehensive guide to caring for and identifying risks to a wide range of materials, from leather to photographs, books and archives and textiles.

Heritage Collections Council, ReCollections: caring for cultural material

This very practical series of information sheets offers detailed information on caring for a wide variety of materials and patterns for how to make covers such as textiles covers, and boxes for fragile books.

National Parks Service, United States of America, Conservograms

STANDARD C2.2 The museum actively strives to create and maintain an appropriate and stable environment for its collection.

What is it?

Link

These two documents explain the importance of cleaning artefacts and spaces in museums to preserve the collection, and give a practical schedule you can adapt to make sure it gets done regularly.

South Australian Community History, Cleaning in Museums

South Australian Community History, Housekeeping Schedule

STANDARD C2.3 The museum’s display, storage and handling methods minimise risks to its collection.

What is it?

Link

Museums Australia have produced these fact sheets that give an over-view of how to care for collections and the effects of the environments they are stored and displayed in.

Museums Australia Victoria, What is Collections Care?

Museums Australia Victoria, The Effects of Storage and Display Materials on Museum Objects

Museums Australia Victoria, Conservation and Lighting in Museums

Museums Australia Victoria, Museum Temperature and Humidity

South Australian Community History have produced these fact sheets on manual handling and pest management for collections.

South Australian Community History, Storage and Handling

South Australian Community History, Display techniques and supports

South Australian Community History, Managing Pests in the Collection

A set of practical guidebooks to caring for collection types from leather to photographs and paper for museum staff and volunteers.

Heritage Collections Council, reCollections: caring for cultural material

These two fact sheets from Museums Australia and Victoria guide museums to create displays and stores that minimise damage to collections.

Museums Australia Victoria, Display basics

Museums Australia Victoria, Creating or Improving Stores