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Society for Museum Archaeology (SMA) Guidance for the Rationalisation of Museum Archaeology Collections

The SMA, with funding from Historic England, have now published new guidance on the rationalisation of archaeology collections. In response to the ongoing crisis in the museum archaeology sector around storage and access to archaeological archives, Historic England and SMA worked with five museums to explore the impact of rationalisation – reviewing collections to select parts of archaeological archives that may be disposed, used for teaching or handling, etc. The Guidance includes what needs to be taken into account as part of a rationalisation project (from establishing legal ownership to making best use of space). However, rationalisation was found not to be a solution to the storage crisis, although it was found to be a beneficial exercise from the perspective of understanding what a museum holds, defining collecting policies and selection and retention strategies, and understanding how collections may be used in more dynamic ways. Barney Sloane, Director of Research at Historic England stated that the Guidance “is an important step in helping museums to share ideas that work and to make the most efficient use of space without losing the significant of what they are entrusted to look after”. You can find out more about the project, and  download the Guidance for free from the SMA website: http://socmusarch.org.uk/projects/guidance-on-the-rationalisation-of-museum-archaeology-collections/