Last week’s annual meeting of the American Alliance of Museums was held just 30 miles from my house but I wasn’t able to attend due to other commitments. I missed seeing so many of my friends! Fortunately, Terri Anderson, a colleague working at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, shared her experiences:
I had a great time attending the American Alliance of Museums annual conference this week, held in Baltimore, Maryland. AAM put on an excellent conference, full of interesting sessions. To be completely honest, I haven’t said that about an AAM conference in a while. I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting and informative each session was. Also a first for me was being completely blocked from a session. “How We Did It: The Move of the Barnes Collection” was so full, the AAM volunteer had to close the doors and wouldn’t let in any more people even to stand in the back. All the sessions I attended (in the collections management track) were full or over-full—I hope AAM can get arrange for bigger rooms for its collections sessions next time.
A great feature of this year’s conference is that Continue reading
Terri Anderson is swapping history collections for art when she joins the Corcoran Gallery of Art next week as a Contract Registrar to help them migrate their collections database from Filemaker to TMS (The Museum System). For the past five years, she has focused her work on collections management at the 29 National Trust Historic Sites as the John and Neville Bryan Director of Collections at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she also taught collections management for George Washington University and became one of the national leaders on the challenges of deaccessioning collections at historic sites. With this transition, I thought it would be a good time to capture some of her thoughts about managing collections at historic sites.
Max: You’ve been managing the collections of the National Trust for the last five years–what have been the major successes?
Terri: Our most visible successes were opening several Sites to the public for the first time, including the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut; President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, DC; and Villa Finale in San Antonio, Texas. Each of these Site openings required many important decisions about collections stewardship and access, and each Site demanded a different approach: one size did not fit all.
At the same time, we had successes that, while less visible, were important to me and the parties involved. We did a lot of great work with thoughtful, appropriate deaccessions at several of our Sites. I wrote about our experiences in Continue reading
Museums and the Disposals Debate, 2011
One of the findings of the 2007 Kykuit Conference was that “undefined collecting coupled with a lack of professional standards and inconsistent practices regarding deaccessioning are an impediment to change and sustainability” and recommended that “selected sites should develop a pilot process to streamline deaccessioning and share their results with the field.”
Some of this work may have just been accomplished with the publication of Museums and the Disposal Debate, an anthology of essays edited by Peter Davies. At a hefty 600 pages, it includes two dozen contributions from museums from around the English-speaking world but for those working at historic house museums, you’ll be most interested in “Too Much of a Good Thing: Lessons from Deaccessioning at National Trust Historic Sites” by Terri Anderson, the John and Neville Bryan Director of Museum Collections at the National Trust for Historic Preservation (she moderated the standing-room only session on deaccessioning for AAM a couple years ago). I read an early version of her essay and it’s the best I’ve seen written on the particular challenges facing deaccessioning at historic sites, which are distinctly different from other museums.
The talk of becoming “21st century museums” is often coded language for Continue reading