ICS8004 : Collections Management

  • Offered for Year: 2014/15
  • Module Leader(s): Mr Andrew Newman
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures


Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aims of the module are:

To familiarise students with the management issues which relate to the formation, curation, and documentation of collections in museums and art galleries;

To provide an understanding of preventative conservation and to introduce some aspects of remedial conservation in museums and art galleries;

To familiarise students with good practice in relation to the storage and transport of collections; and

To introduce students to the theory of material culture.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge required to care for museum objects. It is intended to be specific to the MA in Museum Studies but will touch upon issues relating to fine and decorative art and tangible heritage. The module introduces collections management and demonstrates its application in museums. In order to do this the module will consider five main themes, the first of which will consider a series of topics related to collections. Included within this are sessions on ethics and collections management, an introduction to collection types, factors causing damage to museum objects and how they are measured, interpretation of environmental data, buildings and preventative conservation, how to identify common conservation problems, museum collections and health and safety and finally labelling and marking. The second major theme is management and includes sessions on collecting and disposal policies, storage, assessing risks to collections, security, packing objects and disaster planning. The third theme is documentation and considers SPECTRUM, the Museum Accreditation Scheme, object entry, accessioning, cataloguing, location & movement control, exit, loan and retrospective documentation. Also MODES for Windows is introduced, a database designed for cataloguing museum objects. The fourth theme looks at material culture theory as it is essential if objects are to be understood in their broader social context. Finally, the module will consider research through a general introduction and a case study.
In addition to the above is a collection care case study that considers how collection management is managed within Tyne and Wear Museums. We will also visit the Regional Resource Centre and Large Object Store at Beamish Museum and hear about the collections management challenges of the ‘Great North Museum’ project.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities

Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion148:0048:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture251:0025:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical23:307:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork16:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery10:000:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study172:0072:00N/A

Teaching Rationale And Relationship

• Lectures: a formal taught session to present the necessary knowledge and skills to facilitate the learning objectives

• Practical: undertaking work in a supervised environment in order to develop skills and professional practice

• Workshop: sessions dedicated to skills development where students undertake prescribed work with staff present to advise and answer queries

• Drop in surgery time: a one-to-one situation allowing for intensive appraisal of student performance, to facilitate development of cognitive and key skills, and to give feedback to the student

• Fieldwork: to encourage students to relate theoretical knowledge to specific examples thereby developing professional and cognitive skills as well as expanding their knowledge base

• Guided Independent Study: to facilitate intended knowledge outcomes, and to develop both cognitive and key skills (e.g., independent learning techniques, self-motivation, time-management) by providing a structured task for the student to complete independently

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment

Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M100Answer a report question (3200 words), and a commentary explaining your approach to this assignment (300 words)

Formative Assessments

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MFeedback provided during practical sessions

Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students choose from options covering learning outcomes relating to management, collections, material culture, theory, research or documentation.

The report format allows students to develop professional, and cognitive skills as well as demonstrating achieved knowledge outcomes.

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.