Description: U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service  126 FW 1, Policy, Responsibilities, and Definitions

FWM#:    325 (new)
Date:        October 7, 1997
Series:      Library and Museum Services
Part 126:  Museums
Originating Office:  Division of Refuges   

1.1 Purpose. This chapter establishes policy and standards for management of Fish and Wildlife Service museum property collections.

1.2 Objectives. The objectives for managing museum property are to:

A. Provide for protection and conservation of museum property collections to preserve important historic, scientific, or artistic qualities.

B. Provide for accountability of management activities associated with museum property (planning, accessioning, loans, transfers, deaccessioning, cataloging, etc.) consistent with Department and Service standards.

C. Establish Service standards and guidance for the preservation, protection, accountability, and documentation of museum property.

1.3 Scope. The policies of this part apply to all Service units responsible for museum property. The policies and standards apply to museum property collections in the possession of Service units and on loan to other institutions.

1.4 Policy. It is the policy of the Service to preserve, protect, account for, and document museum property collections for use, study, and interpretation consistent with Federal and Department of the Interior regulations and standards.

1.5 Authorities.

A. 411 DM 1-3, Interior Museum Property Management.

B. National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended (16 USC 668dd-668ee)

C. 50 CFR 27, Subparts E and F, The National Wildlife Refuge System.

D. 50 CFR 12, Seizure and Forfeiture Procedures.

E. 310 FW, Fish and Wildlife Service Property Management.

F. 614 FW 1-5, Cultural Resource Management.

G. 701 FW 5, Collections, Donations, and Disposals.

H. Fish and Wildlife Service Cultural Resource Management Handbook, Chapter XI.

1.6 Responsibilities.

A. The Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget has general oversight responsibility for the management of the Department of the Interior museum property program. Responsibilities include establishing Departmentwide policy and standards and providing oversight to bureau programs.

B. The Director will ensure that appropriate organizational arrangements, procedures, resources and qualified designated authorities are available to implement requirements.

C. The Assistant Director - Refuges and Wildlife is the Service's Museum Property Management Officer and Headquarters Museum Property Administrator. The Assistant Director - Refuges and Wildlife will:

(1) Provide Servicewide oversight and implement Service policy, guidelines, and programs to achieve Federal requirements and Departmental standards.

(2) Appoint a Service Designated Authority with the appropriate experience, training, and knowledge to coordinate the Service's museum property program.

(3) Review and approve Servicewide museum property management documents and data requirements.

(4) Represent the Service on the Department of the Interior Museum Property Executive Committee.

D. The Service Designated Authority will:

(1) Develop and distribute management policies, guidelines, and standards involving the preservation, protection, and documentation of museum property.

(2) Prepare Servicewide museum property management reports, plans, and related documents.

(3) Review program and funding needs for museum property-related activities and make recommendations to the Service's Museum Property Management Office concerning the management of Service museum property.

(4) Coordinate program activities with the Service Records Officer to ensure that official records needed to manage museum property are appraised and included in the records disposition schedule, and, as necessary, are certified to the Archivist of the United States as needed for current business.

(5) Coordinate the Service's involvement on the Department of the Interior's Museum Property Committee.

E. A Designated Authority is responsible for:

(1) Developing appropriate guidance and standards involving the preservation, protection, and documentation of museum property for the Region or unit.

(2) Reviewing museum property operations within the Region or unit, as appropriate, and making recommendations to the Regional Museum Property Administrator (see paragraph 1.6F) or unit manager concerning the accountability, preservation, protection, and documentation of museum property.

(3) Identifying the need for appropriate museum property specialist(s) and discipline-specialist(s) (e.g., historian, archaeologist, paleontologist, and biologist) to review planning documents affecting museum property.

(4) Assisting in the execution of utilization and disposal procedures as outlined in 310 FW 8 and applicable regulations and directives (except as otherwise stated in 411 DM).

(5) Making recommendations on accessioning, deaccessioning, and disposal decisions affecting museum property collections within the Region or unit, as appropriate.

(6) Coordinating activities with the appropriate Regional Records Officer to ensure that official records needed to manage museum property are appraised and included in the records disposition schedule, and, as necessary, are certified to the Archivist of the United States as needed for current business.

F. Regional Directors are Regional Museum Property Administrators and are responsible for:

(1) Developing appropriate mechanisms and policies for units within their respective areas of jurisdiction and control to meet Departmental and Service policies and standards for managing museum property.

(2) Appointing designated authorities for their respective Region who possess the knowledge in the methods and techniques pertinent to the types of museum property maintained by units under their jurisdiction and control.

(3) Establishing a Regional Museum Property Committee, or its equivalent, to provide guidance and advice on managing museum property for units within the Region.

(4) Ensuring the completion and accuracy of museum property inventories completed by units under their jurisdiction and monitoring the use and care of collections on loan to other institutions.

(5) Using accountability and reporting procedures consistent with the requirements of this Part to track and report museum property information and transactions involving accessions, cataloging materials, loans, deaccessions, and other data on collections within their respective Regions.

G. Unit Managers are the Museum Property Accountable Officers for their unit and are responsible for:

(1) Completing and implementing, as appropriate, museum property management documentation and plans as described in this Part.

(2) Ensuring that museum property is managed according to Departmental and Service policies and standards.

(3) Consulting and seeking the advice of the appropriate Designated Authority on activities involving the management, preservation, and use of museum property.

(4) Using an accountability system consistent with the requirements of this Part to track management activities associated with museum property under their control.

(5) Completing and submitting a museum property inventory to the appropriate Regional Museum Property Administrator to verify the presence and condition of museum property collections.

(6) Appointing a designated authority who possesses the knowledge in the methods and techniques pertinent to the types of museum property maintained by the unit.

(7) Ensuring the completion of appraisals, as necessary.

1.7 Definitions

A. Accessioning is the process by which the Service formally accepts and establishes permanent legal title (ownership) and/or custody for a museum object or group of museum objects. A single accession transaction occurs when one or more objects are acquired in the same manner from one source at one time for the unit's museum property collection. A unique accession number is assigned to each accession transaction, not each object.

B. Appraisal is:

(1) The process by which the unit manager evaluates non-official records against the unit's Scope of Collection Statement and reviews the documents for informational, resource, and administrative values.

(2) The process by which the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) determines the value and thus the final disposition of Federal records, making them either temporary or permanent (36 CFR Part 1220).

(3) The practice of an expert assigning a monetary value to museum property for a specific management purpose, such as to designate controlled museum property or to prepare for an exchange, loan, or deaccession.

C. Associated Records are all documentation generated by the activity of collecting and analyzing artifacts, specimens, or other resources that are or subsequently may be designated as museum property. These include archaeological site forms, field notes, laboratory reports, maps, photographs, video and audio cassette tapes, inventories, reports, manuscripts, and various forms of electronic media. These records are "associated" with objects and specimens generated during such activities. Refer to 36 CFR Part 79 for a specific definition of "associated records" involving archaeological collections.

D. Cataloging is the action of assigning and applying a unique identifier (a catalog number) to an object or specimen or group of objects and specimens and completing descriptive documentation.

E. Controlled museum property is an individual object or a cataloged "lot" of objects that meet any of the following criteria: has high intrinsic or scientific value; is especially vulnerable to theft, loss, or damage; is valued at or above a threshold value of $300; or is a museum firearm. The catalog record for the object must indicate that it is controlled museum property. For the purpose of inventory, short-term incoming loans are treated like controlled museum property.

F. Curatorial staff includes all Service employees who have been assigned direct responsibility for managing and accounting for museum property (Museum Property Accountable Officer). Curatorial staff also include professionally-trained museum curators, museum specialists, museum technicians, or property management specialists, archaeologists, historians, wildlife biologists, interpreters, or others who perform museum property functions as a collateral duty.

G. Deaccessioning is the formal procedure whereby objects are permanently removed from a unit's museum property collection through exchanges, transfers, and losses.

H. Designated authority is an individual possessing the training and experience appropriate to the size, nature, and complexity of museum property collections within the respective Region or unit to make accessioning and deaccessioning decisions. A designated authority must have a comprehensive knowledge of the methods and techniques pertinent to the preservation, protection, and documentation of museum property. Depending upon the size and nature of collections, a Regional Director or unit manager may wish to designate more than one individual to function as a designated authority for the Region or unit.

I. Discipline classification type is a category of museum property that organizes collections into separate disciplines to provide a systematic filing scheme to manage objects and retrieve data. The discipline classification types used by the Department of the Interior are archaeology; ethnography; art; history; documents; zoology; botany; paleontology, geology, and environmental samples.

J. Loans are objects in the temporary custody of the Service or other parties to further preservation, interpretation, and research objectives. Loans are divided into two categories, "incoming" and "outgoing." Incoming loans cover objects for which a Service unit has assumed temporary responsibility and custody, but not ownership. Outgoing loans cover objects temporarily assigned to other Service units, Federal agencies, or non-Federal entities. Incoming and outgoing loans involve temporary legal custody changes but not a change in ownership or title, and are covered by loan agreements, cooperative agreements, or similar instruments.

K. Museum property is personal property acquired according to some rational scheme and preserved, studied, or interpreted for public benefit. Museum property is identified within the context of legal requirements, the Service's and unit's mission and management objectives, and the unit's Scope of Collection Statement. Although a unit may not have a museum, it may still be responsible for property that meets the definition and characteristics of museum property.

(1) In contrast to other types of personal property, objects covered under one or more of the following categories are considered to be museum property.

(a) Archaeological collections resulting from systematic archaeological research on Service lands or as a result of Service projects on other lands. Curation of archaeological collections removed from Federal lands is mandated by law and regulation. Collections generated from undertakings on State or private lands must be curated if accessioned by the Service. All associated records related to archaeological collections must be retained as part of the collection.

Archaeological materials that are not part of a systematic collection may not qualify as museum property, but may be needed for educational or interpretive purposes. The use of such materials must be addressed by a unit's museum property documentation (e.g., scope of collections statement, museum property plan, etc.) until they can be evaluated by a qualified professional for purposes of deaccessioning or long-term care.

(b) Ethnographic materials associated with cultural or traditional life ways of Native Americans and other indigenous or ethnic groups. Examples include basketry, pottery, rugs, jewelry, and other cultural items.

(c) Art, such as paintings (e.g., watercolor, wash, oil, etc. on various support media, including canvas, artist board, and paper); prints and drawings, (e.g., pen and ink, pencil sketches, chromolithographs); wildlife mounts (used for artistic purposes); sculpture; antiques; and tapestries. If artwork meets one or more of the following characteristics, it should be considered as museum property:

(i) Associated with an eminent Service (or predecessor agency) employee; or commissioned, donated to, or purchased by the Service from a notable artist or taxidermist.

(ii) Limited edition or rare prints.

(iii) Associated with or commemorates an important Service event or program.

(iv) Documents or is used to interpret an extinct, endangered, or threatened species.

Objects of questionable artistic value should be appraised or evaluated by a qualified individual to determine if they should be preserved as museum property by the Service or another organization.

(d) Documents (not official records as defined in 1.7K(2)(a) including commissioned photographs; correspondence or documents related to Service programs or lands; diaries, books, manuals, maps or other similar documents associated with an important event or person in Service history; or, audio and visual images and electronic documents. Documentation meeting the definition of "associated records" (see 1.7C) must be maintained with the appropriate collections.

(e) Historical objects that are related to the history of the Service and its predecessor agencies; the history of its lands and facilities; or management functions and programs. These may include, but are not limited to, well preserved or representative examples of early scientific equipment or tools; uniforms; boundary signs; books autographed by or belonging to Service employees or other individuals; historic firearms; waterfowl decoys; furniture; collections of materials associated directly with historic sites on Service lands or, scale-models of agency structures.
 (f) Botanical collections (e.g. herbariums) generated from research on Service lands or accessioned by the Service as a result of research and not consumed in analysis.

(g) Geological collections such as geophysical specimens and soil and core samples maintained by units to document landforms or in support of engineering studies.

(h) Zoological collections such as prepared biological specimens; type specimens (bases for the original descriptions of species and subspecies taxa); voucher specimens (document research activities and results); or wildlife mounts that have scientific, historic, or long-term interpretive value.

(i) Paleontological collections including vertebrate and invertebrate fossils generated from scientific research, sampling, and collection on Service lands.

(j) Environmental samples collected to document baseline environmental data (water, soil, air quality, etc.) for long-term research, monitoring, and analysis.

(2) The following types of materials are not generally subject to the standards and policies of this Part:

(a) Official records, as defined by the National Archives and Records Administration in 44 USC 3301. These are

". . . all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of data in them. Library and museum material made or acquired and preserved solely for reference or exhibition purposes, extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference, and stocks of publications and of processed documents are not included."

(b) Books (e.g., library reference textbooks, journals, and magazines);

(c) Commercially mass-produced posters or reprints;

(d) Working collection specimens and samples that are consumed in analysis or that can be readily replaced; reference or working collections used for ongoing research that have not been processed or prepared to museum-quality standards for long-term preservation and care and will be discarded upon completion of the project; and samples and specimens that do not appreciate in value, are not rare or of public interest, and will be discarded when no longer needed for current projects or business;

(e) Teaching, outreach and interpretive objects that are expendable;

(f) Mounts that have no scientific, historic, or long-term interpretive value;

(g) Exhibit cases, dioramas, special lighting, and graphics needed to display museum property; and,

(h) Seized or forfeited objects that are defined and covered by the procedures under 50 CFR 12, Subparts A-C. Note, however, certain seized or forfeited objects eligible for disposal under 50 CFR 12, Subpart D, may qualify as museum property. Service employees responsible for managing seized and forfeited property must consult with the appropriate designated authority before disposing of such materials.

L. Museum Property Accountable Officer is the unit manager. The Museum Property Accountable Officer is responsible for ensuring that accountability records are developed and maintained to provide for the effective control of the unit's museum property.

M. Museum Property Administrator is the individual responsible for Headquarters or Regionwide oversight and accountability of museum property collections.

N. Museum Property Management Officer is the individual responsible for Servicewide oversight and accountability of museum property collections and developing appropriate policy, guidelines, and procedures. (See paragraph 1.6C.)

O. Museum Records are "official records" that are created to manage museum property (e.g., accession, catalog, loan, and inventory records). As agency records, these records must be appraised through agency records schedule procedures, and, as necessary, certified to the Archivist of the United States that they are needed for current business.

P. Preventive Conservation employs non-interventive actions(s) to prevent damage to and minimize deterioration of objects and associated data. Such actions include monitoring and controlling environmental agents; practicing proper handling, storage, exhibit, and packing and shipping techniques; implementing a housekeeping program; and addressing the care of museum property in the unit's emergency management plan.

Q. Scope of Collection Statement is the basic museum property planning document that is required for all Service units possessing or expecting to acquire museum property. The document guides a unit in acquiring museum objects that contribute to the unit's purposes and objectives, as well as objects that the Service is legally mandated to preserve.

R. Unit is a Service organizational entity, such as a refuge, fish hatchery, ecological services field station, a Headquarters or Regional Office division, repository, or other administrative facility.

S. Working and reference collections are organic and inorganic materials maintained for ongoing research, identification and educational activities. They are not intended for long-term preservation, although some objects may subsequently be preserved as museum property. Working and reference collections may or may not be maintained according to Departmental and disciplinary museum property standards. They facilitate the work of researchers who collect and process large quantities of materials for scientific analysis.

For additional information regarding this policy, contact the Division of Refuges. For more information about this Web page, contact  Krista Bibb, in the Division of Policy and Directives Management. 

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