Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Werstas Sets a Standard for Collections Policies

The Finnish Labour Museum Werstas recently published it's Collections Policy (in Finnish), which is the most comprehensive attempt to outline the aims and practices of collections management in museums of cultural history in Finland. Thus, it set the standard for other museums working with their own policies. It's an excellent example of what to consider and what to write down when designing a long-term plan for increasing and caring for collections.

By publishing the Collections Policy, Werstas joins the "Great Finnish Museum" and marks out its area of documentation. Werstas also wants to stress the importance of sharing the documentation work. It is not reasonable to have several museums document the same material - a division of work between the different museums is in place here. Once defined, museums should be committed to their specific area of documentation.

Werstas is currently conducting a lenghty process called "kokoelmien haltuunotto", which includes the inventing and cataloguing of collections, optimizing the storage space for collections as well as developing methods for sharing information about and within the collections. A collection policy is an essential tool for all museum professionals, who take part in this work on different levels, it is their guidebook. It describes the idea of the museum and the work to be done there, which is a prerequisite for contemporary collections management today.

This collections policy is the first of its kind in Werstas. It is meant to be complemented and revised appr. every 1-5 years, according to the need. In its first version, this collection policy is an important example for other museums and an every-day tool for staff at Werstas. However, in the collections policy 1.0.2 some day, I would like to see those more difficult aspects of collections management work problematized. For example, classification by value (arvoluokitus) and the current position of collections in museum would need further consideration. Philosophical and museological approach to these complicated issues would also increase the understanding towards museum and its collections as a whole.


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