Title: FWS logo - Description: Logo of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showing flying duck and jumping fish.

126 FW 2
Museum Property Management

Supersedes 126 FW 2 and 3, FWM 325, 10/07/1997

Date: November 2, 2017

Series: Library and Museum Services

Part 126: Museums

Originating Office: Division of Visitor Services and Communication

 

 

PDF Version

 

                                                                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

Topics

Sections

Overview

2.1 What is the purpose of this chapter?

2.2 What are the authorities and terms you need to know to understand this chapter?

2.3 Where does the Service keep museum property?

Museum Property Management

2.4 What does day-to-day museum property management include?

2.5 How does the Service monitor the condition and composition of its museum property, and what standards must Custodial Property Officers use in their evaluations?

2.6 What are the general space requirements for storing museum property?

2.7 What are requirements for exhibiting museum property?

2.8 What are requirements for conservation treatment of museum property?

Planning, Reporting, and Funding

2.9 What are the documentation requirements for museum property?

2.10 What are the requirements for inventorying museum property?

2.11 How does the Service track and report on museum property management activities?

2.12 What guidance and planning documents should Regional Historic Preservation Officers and Custodial Property Officers develop for museum property?

2.13 How does the Service fund museum property management?

 

 

OVERVIEW

 

2.1 What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter describes the process for managing museum property in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), standards to follow, and proper planning and documentation for related activities.

 

2.2 What are the authorities and terms you need to know to understand this chapter? See 126 FW 1 for a list of authorities and Exhibit 1 to 126 FW 1 for a glossary of terms used for the chapters in Part 126.

 

2.3 Where does the Service keep museum property? Museum property we manage can be found at duty stations, at Service collections repositories, or in universities or museums (non-Service repositories). Most duty stations are not equipped to properly house museum collections.

 

A. When non-Federal partners (i.e., universities and museums) are holding our museum property, we help them with their storage responsibilities. Because these non-Federal facilities have the infrastructure to house collections to Federal standards, they are often a good choice to house Service museum property.

 

B. Regardless of where a collection of museum property is housed, that collection is the responsibility of the duty station’s Custodial Property Officer (i.e., the Project Leader; see 126 FW 1). All monitoring and reporting we describe in in this chapter is the responsibility of Service personnel.

 

MUSEUM PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

 

2.4 What does day-to-day museum property management include? We must care for museum property according to established standards (see 411 DM 1) and account for its treatment and maintenance. The Custodial Property Officer for the museum property can contact the Service experts described in 126 FW 1 for advice for proper management of the materials. He/she must also ensure that the duty station’s Scope of Collection statement (see Exhibit 1) is reviewed and updated every 5 years. 

 

2.5 How does the Service monitor the condition and composition of its museum property, and what standards must Custodial Property Officers use in their evaluations?

 

A. Environmental monitoring: Duty stations must maintain stored or exhibited museum property (and its associated documentation) in a safe, stable environment appropriate to the nature of the materials. Maintaining adequate environmental conditions reduces the museum property's rate of deterioration, prolongs its availability for use and study, and minimizes the need for costly conservation treatment. Custodial Property Officers must control levels of such factors as temperature, relative humidity, and light as described below and in Exhibit 2 (PDF only), which is a listing of environmental standards and how to meet them.

 

B. Visual monitoring: The Custodial Property Officer at a duty station must ensure that he/she or staff regularly inspect their museum property collections and storage areas to detect, document, and take appropriate actions to correct environmental condition issues (e.g., purchasing new containers, moving the collections to better storage locations). 

 

(1) Every 5 years, regardless of whether the property is stored on the duty station or elsewhere, the Custodial Property Officer or staff must complete or update an existing “Museum Facility Checklist for Spaces Housing Departmental Museum Property,” which is a form provided online as an appendix to Departmental Museum Property Directive 14. The Custodial Property Officer must certify that the Museum Facility Checklist was completed for each space where his/her duty station houses museum property. 

 

(2) When a collection’s location does not achieve a good condition assessment rating, the Custodial Property Officer must identify the cost to meet the standards on the checklist and address any deficiencies in the appropriate collections management plans. He/she should report this information to the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO) or National Curator.

 

(a) If improvements are delayed and they are on Service property, the Custodial Property Officer must include the estimated cost as deferred maintenance. 

 

(b) A facility must be re-evaluated when new spaces are added, when conditions are known to change, or at least every 5 years. 

 

C. Collection composition monitoring: The Custodial Property Officer must annually recertify museum property to ensure it still meets the definition of museum property in 126 FW 1 and the station’s Scope of Collection statement. If the property no longer meets the definition of museum property or the station’s Scope of Collection statement, then the Custodial Property Officer must work with the RHPO or the National Curator to determine what to do with it.

 

2.6 What are the general space requirements for storing museum property? Safe and secure storage of museum property requires dedicated space.

 

A. Space designed or used for storage must be large enough to accommodate existing museum property and allow for anticipated growth in the collection's size.

 

B. Custodial Property Officers must house museum property using appropriate equipment and containers and package it with appropriate museum-quality materials.

 

C. When storage spaces are located in high risk natural disaster areas, staff must use materials and techniques that protect museum property from damage due to shock, vibration, water intrusion, and other potentially adverse effects.

 

D. We encourage Custodial Property Officers to use space that meets these requirements for all museum property they house, and to move collections elsewhere on the duty station or to a non-Service repository if its current storage is inadequate.  

 

E. We recommend that the duty station develop a collections management plan with input from the RHPO or National Curator to help direct and guide storage needs for museum property. The plan should have an emergency management section or stand-alone emergency management report that identifies security concerns for the collections and how those concerns will be addressed.

 

2.7 What are requirements for exhibiting museum property?

 

A. When exhibiting museum property, duty stations must display it in a manner that minimizes deterioration and potential for theft or vandalism. Custodial Property Officers must:

 

(1) Use exhibit cases that ensure the security, preservation, and proper maintenance of the museum property they contain.

 

(2) Protect freestanding museum objects or specimens by such methods as installing physical barriers or electronic devices, or having staff monitor it.

 

(3) Rotate environmentally sensitive objects and specimens on a schedule to minimize deterioration.

 

(4) Use museum-quality mounts, when necessary, to support objects or specimens.

 

(5) Avoid using original documents whenever possible.

 

(6) Avoid placing human remains and sacred objects on exhibit. 

 

B. The duty station’s collections management plan should identify security concerns for the collections and how those concerns will be addressed.

 

2.8 What are requirements for conservation treatment of museum property? Our primary goal is to preserve a collection’s important historic, scientific, or artistic qualities.

 

A. Conservation of museum property is an ongoing process of preventive conservation—good storage, use of appropriate containers, regular monitoring—supplemented by necessary conservation treatment. Conservation treatment may be necessary when preventive measures, such as controlling environmental conditions and proper handling, are insufficient to preserve the object's qualities, or when corrective work is necessary for preparation of an exhibit.  Conservation needs must be addressed for museum collections housed both on and off of a duty station.

 

B. Custodial Property Officers should consider the following factors when planning conservation treatment:

 

(1) The design or manufacturing process used to create the object,

 

(2) Its intended function,

 

(3) Scientific research values,

 

(4) Its significance from a traditional cultural or religious perspective, and

 

(5) The importance of its appearance for exhibit or other uses.

 

C. To address any museum property conservation needs, Custodial Property Officers must first consult with the RHPO or the National Curator. They must use a qualified conservator who is trained and experienced in addressing the problems of the particular object(s) in question. Curatorial staff may also treat museum property, but only under the direction of a qualified conservator who specializes in the material being conserved (e.g., metal, textiles).

 

(1) Treatment must adhere to the principles and practices addressed in the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practices of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

 

(2) Conservation treatment should always be reversible so that it may be removed without harm to the object.

 

D. The conservator must prepare a written report describing any conservation treatment of museum property. This report should be made part of any reporting for the collection.

 

PLANNING, REPORTING AND FUNDING

 

2.9 What are the documentation requirements for museum property? The duty station’s Custodial Property Officer is responsible for documenting effective management of museum property. Documentation requirements align with the following activities:

 

A. Accessioning. The Custodial Property Officer:

 

(1) Must record the acquisition of one or more object(s) in the same manner from one source at one time as a single accession transaction,

 

(2) Should use a Transfer of Property (Form DI-104) for the transaction and sign it,

 

(3) Where applicable, should document the transfer of copyright, and

 

(4) Must assign the object(s) a Service accession number.

 

B. Cataloging. The Custodial Property Officer must catalog museum property. Catalog information can be recorded in the Interior Collections Management System (ICMS) (see Departmental Museum Property Directives 3 and 20). If not using ICMS, he/she may record the information in another database if it is approved by the RHPO (or National Curator) and the Accountable Property Officer.

 

C. Item-level condition assessment. The Custodial Property Officer must ensure that a qualified museum professional conducts an item-level condition assessment when the Custodial Officer initially catalogs museum property. This assessment serves as a baseline and helps to determine if the item warrants conservation. Item-level condition assessments must also be conducted when an item is handled or used (e.g., annual inventory, outgoing loan, exhibit, or research).

 

D. Loans.

 

(1) Duty stations involved in the short-term loan of museum property must adhere to Departmental Directives 17 and 22 and the following standards:

 

(a) Assign each loan (incoming and outgoing) a unique number and document it in a loan agreement. Maintain an electronic record of the loan documentation in ICMS (if used) or another database (e.g., Regional database or FRED [see section 2.11B(2)]).

 

(b) The Custodial Property Officer and the other party’s designated authority must sign all loan agreements.

 

(c) The loan agreement must address the conditions for shipping, handling, and insuring the museum property and include an itemized list of the property.

 

(d) Loan agreements must be stored in acid-free folders.

 

(e) Objects on short-term loan:

 

(i) May only be used for official Government purposes. Avoid using museum property for commercial purposes or for private financial gain, except where specifically authorized by law or by the appropriate designated authority.

 

(ii) Must only be made for official purposes to institutions, organizations, or government agencies that are qualified to handle, store, study, or display the museum property. Do not make loans to individuals.

 

(f) In compliance with 36 CFR 1228.76, the Custodial Property Officer must seek blanket approval from the Archivist of the United States for all loans of "official records" to non-Federal recipients.  

 

(2) We encourage Custodial Property Officers to work with their RHPOs or the National Curator for all loans.

 

E. Temporary Custody. Duty stations must use a temporary custody receipt or similar document when holding museum property temporarily so that it can be identified, reviewed for possible donation, or examined for other reasons (see Departmental Museum Property Directive 24, Temporary Custodial Arrangements). Short-term custody receipts are appropriate for materials that are not insured and are kept for up to 60 days. The owner of the object and the duty station’s Custodial Property Officer must sign the receipt.

 

F. Inventories. Inventories of museum collections and the documentation of those inventories must be consistent with section 2.10 and Departmental Museum Property Directive 21, Inventory of Museum Collections.

 

2.10 What are the requirements for inventorying museum property? Following are the inventory requirements. We encourage the Custodial Property Officer to work with the RHPO or the National Curator for all inventories, but especially for any that would trigger the need for a Board of Survey.

 

A. Annual inventories. An annual inventory of museum property includes three components:

 

(1) A 100% inventory of all controlled museum collections. The Custodial Property Officer or his/her designee may approve an exception to a 100% inventory and use an alternative approach if the duty station holds large amounts of controlled museum collections.

 

(2) A random sample inventory of all non-controlled, cataloged museum collections, unless a more stringent method is required. 

 

(3) A random sample inventory, by accession number, of all accessioned, but un-cataloged museum collections, unless a more stringent method is required.  

 

B. Other inventories.

 

(1) Inventories due to accountability changes: The Custodial Property Officer may need to conduct additional inventories when the designation of accountability changes, e.g., when the Custodial Property Officer separates from the Service or transfers from the duty station. The new Custodial Property Officer may:

 

(a) Perform a 100% inventory,

 

(b) Perform a random sample inventory, or

 

(c) Sign a statement of responsibility for the accountability of the museum collections.

 

(2) Missing objects or removing objects for use or testing:

 

(a) If one or more museum objects are determined to be missing during an inventory or through another means, then every effort must be taken to find the objects following Section 1.12 of Departmental Museum Property Directive 21, Inventory of Museum Collections. A new inventory may also be necessary to fully document the object(s) that are missing or lost. 

 

(b) If a loss is verified based on an inventory or other means, the Custodial Property Officer must document these findings according to Section 1.10 of Departmental

Museum Property Directive 21. 

 

(c) The Custodial Property Manager must fill out a Stolen, Lost, Damaged, and Destroyed (SLDD) Report for any museum object that is stolen, lost, damaged, or destroyed following the requirements in Department of the Interior Acquisition, Assistance, and Asset Policy (DOI-AAAP) #0111. The Custodial Property Manager must determine the degree of negligence—no, simple, or gross—and act on it according to DOI-AAAP-0111.

 

(d) If loss or damage to an object is found to be gross negligence, the Accountable Property Officer must convene a Board of Survey—an ad hoc or standing committee—to investigate the circumstances of the incident and to determine if any financial liability exists. After the investigation, the lead and other members of the Board of Survey must sign the SLDD Report, along with other required individuals as stated in DOI-AAAP-0111.

 

(e) Any loss of museum object(s) must be recorded on the object's catalog record and a deaccession must include the process outlined in Section 1.11 of Departmental Museum Property Directive 3, Required Standards for Documenting Museum Property and detailed in the forthcoming Departmental Museum Property Directive 25, Deaccessioning and Disposition.

 

(f) Inventories may also be necessary to document use or testing of museum property if that use or testing involves: 

 

(i) Purposeful destruction,

 

(ii) Consumptive use,

 

(iii) Inadvertent destruction,

 

(iv) Transfer within the Service or to another Federal agency, or

 

(v) The property no longer meeting the definition of museum property.

 

C. Inventory requirements. The Custodial Property Officer must ensure that the following mandatory inventory data is verified and updated if changes are found: 

 

(1) Object(s) found,

 

(2) Item count,

 

(3) Location of the object(s), and

 

(4) Condition of the object(s). 

 

D. Reconciling inventories. The Custodial Property Officer must ensure that museum collection inventories are reconciled with museum records. If objects not previously listed in museum records are found during an inventory, the objects must be accessioned and cataloged if they are museum property and fit within the Regional or duty station’s Scope of Collection statement.

 

E. Certifying inventories. The Custodial Property Officer must certify the status of annual inventories of museum collections, and send the certification to the RHPO. The RHPO then has the Accountable Property Officer (i.e., Regional Director) certify it. The RHPO should report these certifications to the National Curator.

 

2.11 How does the Service track and report on museum property management activities?

 

A. The Custodial Property Officer must ensure that day-to-day actions affecting museum property are documented using the following current Departmental forms:

(1) Transfer of Property (Form DI-104) for the transfer of museum property between Service or Government duty stations. This form is also available in ICMS.

(2) Receipt for Property (Form DI-105) for use in accessioning collections resulting from field collection or transfer from other duty stations or organizations. This form is also available in ICMS.

B. We capture Service-wide museum property management and collection information during the annual “Cultural Resources data call,” and report it in the Service’s Cultural Resources Program Annual Report. This report and these data are also used to satisfy other information requests such as the Department’s museum property and finance reports, respectively.

 

(1) The Department’s museum program initiates the data call, and the National Curator works with the RHPOs to collect the information from the duty stations.

 

(2) We maintain museum property collection data electronically in two systems:

 

(a) ICMS, which records specific information about each item in a collection and is currently only used by Service repositories (i.e., the National Conservation Training Center, DC Booth National Historic Fish Hatchery, and DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge); and

 

(b) FRED, which is a database that RHPOs use for archaeological projects. The system includes a museum property management module to track management level data for collections.

 

2.12 What guidance and planning documents should RHPOs and Custodial Property Officers develop for museum property? Following are the plans/guidance documents RHPOs and Custodial Property Officers should develop and use for both on station and off-site collections.

 

A. Scope of Collection statement documents the kinds of objects that the Region or duty station defines as museum property and outlines a strategy for the collection and use of museum property. The RHPO and Custodial Property Officer must update these documents at least every 5 years, and they both must sign them. See Exhibit 1 for a sample.

 

B. Collections Management Plan (CMP) is used to plan for and manage museum property. It identifies actions required to preserve, protect, and document museum property to meet management standards. A CMP must identify problems and risks, describe and prioritize corrective actions (e.g., conservation treatments and facility improvements), and estimate budgets for museum property management. The Custodial Property Officer develops and maintains the CMP with input from the RHPO or the National Curator. 

 

C. Security plan is used to protect museum property from loss caused by crime, negligence, fire, or other catastrophic events. Custodial Property Officers should consider the following when developing a museum security plan:

 

(1) Identifying objectives precisely and clearly is the most important step you can take in designing an effective security system.

 

(2) A security plan must not be limited. It must include subsystems (e.g., access control and monitoring) that complement each other to make the overall security system efficient and ultimately successful.

 

(3) Security is dependent on other systems in place at the duty station. For example, placing an air handler in a museum collection storage area might be an efficient use of space, but it complicates access control, adds a potential source of ignition, and increases the risk of accidental damage to museum objects.

 

D. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan is used to prevent specimens from being attacked and damaged by pests, which is a major challenge of museum property management. As with other planning, IPM should be considered from multiple perspectives. This will ensure a plan that is flexible enough for varied situations. Although pest management used to involve regular applications of toxic chemicals (i.e., pesticides or fungicides) to specimens, we have moved away from that approach in favor of preventative and protective measures that are not based on the use of chemicals. These include, but are not limited to:

 

(1) Upgrades and repairs to building structure,

 

(2) Installation of better cabinetry,

 

(3) Better control of temperature and humidity in collection areas,

 

(4) Removal of food and other organic materials from collection areas, and

 

(5) More effective monitoring.

 

E. Emergency Management Plan (EMP) provides guidance so the Custodial Property Officer can avoid damage or loss of museum property due to an emergency. It can be a stand-alone plan or part of the CMP. Every Service and non-Service facility that has custody of Service museum property must have an EMP that is reviewed at least every 5 years and updated, as necessary.

 

(1) An EMP must:

 

(a) Identify the vulnerabilities of all museum property under the facility’s control,

 

(b) Reference any special needs to keep the property safe, and

 

(c) List two emergency contacts in the Service who are familiar with the needs of the museum property located at the facility. 

 

(2) EMPs must be updated when:

 

            (a) New museum property material types are entered or identified at the facility,

 

(b) Existing property is placed in a new space in the facility, or

 

(c) The Service emergency contact information changes. 

 

2.13 How does the Service fund museum property management?

 

A. The Service pays for museum property activities using funds termed “Arts and Artifacts.” These funds are available to all Regions and Headquarters.

 

B. The Custodial Property Officer should consult with his/her RHPO or the National Curator about the availability of these funds.

 

C. The Department also offers funding through grants or in the form of internships to help bureaus work on their museum property responsibilities.

 

D. For collections housed at non-Service repositories, funding comes through a formal agreement at the Regional level for long-term curatorial services.

 

(1) For archaeological collections, the RHPO and Custodial Property Officer must ensure funding agreements are in compliance with the requirements in 36 CFR 79.8.

 

(2) Like Scope of Collection statements, the curation agreements lay out the requirements for housing collections as museum property.

 

(3) The Custodial Property Officer, the RHPO, and the National Curator, as needed, must review these agreements annually.

 

 

For more information about this policy, contact the Division of Visitor Services and Communication in the National Wildlife Refuge System program. For more information about this website, contact Krista Bibb in the Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs.

 

 

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