Getting Your House in Order 4: Objects with Uncertain Ownership

Event Date:20 October 2021 10:30 am — 20 October 2021 12:00pm

The pandemic has put many museums and collections at risk, with some looking at facing insolvency, mergers with other sites and the movement of collections.

Good collections documentation is the key to managing these processes smoothly, ensuring that any museum collection is accountable and manageable in a high pressure scenario. We were inspired by our colleagues at North West Museum Development and their ‘Getting Your House in Order’ programme, and we have commissioned the Collections Trust to offer the same support and training to museums in the south east.

The Collections Trust team will provide the framework of Spectrum 5.0 and its procedures to bring a focus on the planning and work involved to get your collections documentation in place. We will also be bringing in Professor Janet Ulph, Professor of Commercial Law at the University of Leicester, who will bring a different perspective to the legal and ethical issues associated with dealing with collections.

There will be six sessions delivered online, which are open to staff, boards and volunteers from museums in the south east which are Accredited or formally working towards Accreditation.

The ‘Getting Your House in Order’ sessions are not just for museums facing huge change, but they act as a great refresher for museums wanting to improve their documentation standards, and will serve as a reminder of why this work is necessary.

Within the booking process you can indicate if your museum is or could be facing one of these scenarios, and you will be prioritised for a place.


In this fourth session of the series we will focus on the legal and ethical issues of dealing with objects you may not own (e.g. historic loans, uncollected objects, objects with no paper trail etc.) and objects with conditions attached.

Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss these issues using real-life (anonymised) scenarios. We will be joined by Janet Ulph, Professor of Commercial Law from the University of Leicester, who will be able to advise on the anonymised scenarios submitted to participants on the day.

These legal issues may not be thrilling, but when museums are facing a collections move or change in ownership these issues can become very complex and the process lengthy – it is important to get ahead and understand the processes in advance if your situation.

If you are a museum that is not facing closure or a collections move but you may have objects where you cannot prove ownership or there are conditions to comply with, then we recommend that you attend this session.

Before the session: 

Submit any potential or anonymised real life scenarios for discussion during the session to john.moore@southeastmuseums.org by 15.10.21. Thank you.

Book your place here

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