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Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections

A Practical Guide for Museums

Angela Kipp

Hardback
Paperback
eBook
Managing previously unmanaged collections can be challenging. The process of securing the collection and making it accessible needs the mindset of a collections manager as well as the one of a project manager. The target audience are museum professionals with a basic training in collections care that are confronted with collections that are either large in numbers (1000+ artifacts) or stored confusingly, or both.

The book is a step-by-step guide how to approach this situation, assuming that there's nothing to start with but a collection that has to be accessioned and the person who is assigned to do it. It is about how to bring order into the chaos, to define what is needed in terms of time, money, staff and material, to spot facility issues and potential dangers, and to use the power of networking to solve an otherwise unsolvable task.

Many chapters conclude with “logical exits,” the points at which the collection in a condition that allows you to leave it for the next curator to take over. A common issue is that time frames are often so tight that the target of having the collection in good shape at the end of a contract or at a fixed date can’t be met. Another common scenario may be that other projects become more important and you have to stop working on the collection, which might sound familiar to many directors of small museums. “Logical exits” are the points you can do this without risking that everything you’ve done so far or since the last “logical exit” was a waste of time. For contractors those “logical exits” might serve as orientation points when negotiating the work that has to be done on the collection.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 202Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-6347-5 • Hardback • May 2016 • $75.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-4422-6348-2 • Paperback • May 2016 • $32.00 • (£22.95)
978-1-4422-6349-9 • eBook • May 2016 • $31.99 • (£22.95)
Angela Kipp is the Collections Manager of the TECHNOSEUM in Mannheim, Germany and an independent museum consultant with a special focus on science, technology, farming and history collections. She holds the German Museum Studies degree of Diplom-Museologin (FH) and has worked in the museum field since 1998. She worked for various institutions including large museums like the Museum für Kommunikation (museum for communication) in Berlin and the Deutsches Museum in Munich, as well as for many smaller museums and cultural projects. She specializes in logistics, project management and the adaption of technology for the special needs of museums.

She is especially interested in finding affordable ways to improve collections care in smaller institutions. One way she does that is through her blog project Registrar Trek, aimed at raising awareness for collections care in general and fostering exchange between collections specialists around the world. Another way is this book in which she gathered her own experiences and those of several colleagues to develop a framework for people confronted with a previously unmanaged, only partly managed or just neglected collection.
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1: Congratulations, It's Your
Mess Now!
Chapter 2: A First Glimpse
Chapter 3: Back at the Desk
Chapter 4: Getting Organized
Chapter 5: Diving into the Collection
Chapter 6: The Power of Coffee
Chapter 7: Getting Stuff Done
Chapter 8: Storage Wants and Storage Needs
Chapter 9: We Had Nothing
Chapter 10: Failing Successfully
Chapter 11: Success Stories
Bibliography
Index
About the Author
It is her experience of working with a number of collections in varying states of management that led her to write this absorbing and valuable book. At some point in our careers, those of us working in collections care are likely to be confronted with one that has not been cared for to the expected standards. Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections is intended as a practical guide to address these situations. . . .The watchword for the book is practicality. . . .The language is mercifully accessible and shorn of irrelevant buzzwords, yet always clear, knowledgeable and coherent. This alone is remarkable, considering it is written in the author’s second language. . . .It is clear that the book is not just the result of one person’s experience. Kipp invited contributions and advice from museum professionals on her blog throughout the process of writing the book. This has resulted in a rich base of experience from which to address issues. The real-world examples from contributors across the globe give a realistic context to Kipp’s advice and a different voice to the text, all of which adds to the book’s accessibility. Even for those yet to confront an unmanaged collection on a meaningful scale, this book is essential for anyone caring for museum objects. Its clear and supportive language, coupled with the many practical nuggets of advice, will make it a valuable companion for all.
Museums Journal


Managing Previously Unmanaged Collections is a must have for the library of any collections caretaker! This book takes the ideas of project management and applies them to those messy collections that we all face at least once in our career. Kipp provides guidelines that will help both the new collections manager and veterans work their way through those unmanaged collections.
Deborah Rose Van Horn, Registrar, Kentucky Historical Society & Chair, Southeastern Registrars Association


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