AIM Launches Collection Care Audit Scheme For Smaller Museums

AIM has just launched a new scheme in partnership with Icon to enable small museums to undertake a basic, professional collections care audit. The audits will be carried out by an accredited conservator to help smaller AIM members (museums with up to 20,000 visitors a year) identify key issues and priorities for their museum.

Funded by the Pilgrim Trust, the scheme will support museums to care for their collections more effectively and efficiently in the long-term, to meet the standards required for Accreditation and will give museums the option to undertake an audit before making a full application to the AIM Collections Care Grant Scheme.


Part of the collections at The Coffin Works, Birmingham 

The funded support will be £1,050 (£350 per day) plus travel and VAT if necessary to cover the costs of the accredited conservator undertaking the audit. Grants will be paid in full to the museum on agreement of the Audit and receipt of the conservator’s report. The grant pays for three days’ work, not all of which will be onsite at the museum.

Applications are now open with a closing date of 31 March. Full information about the scheme and an application form can be found here: AIM Collections Care Audit Scheme


Free Workshops For AIM Members: An Introduction To Collection Care

Why is it necessary to wear gloves to handle objects? Why don’t objects last for ever? How does decay set in? If you have ever wondered why collection care matters or what it involves, then book yourself a place on our new ‘Stop The Rot’ workshops which are free for staff and volunteers from AIM member museums, galleries and heritage sites.

These fun and hands on workshops are led by Jane Thompson Webb, the Conservation Team Leader at Birmingham Museums Trust, and you will gain the skills and confidence you need to spot the main agents of decay and how they can damage objects in your collections. You will also learn a range of practical strategies to help ensure that your collections will be accessible now and in the future.

Funded by The Pilgrim Trust, the workshops include lunch, refreshments, collections care handouts and AIM Success Guides for you to use in your own organisation. If you work or volunteer in a heritage site or museum, these workshops will give you a greater understanding of caring for your collections, why objects deteriorate and what practical steps you can take to limit damage.

Becca STR 15

AIM collections care workshops are always hands on and fun

Participants on previous ‘Stop the Rot’ workshops have said:

 “This has been a practical workshop and will allow me to revisit and reappraise the procedures we are currently using”

“This workshop was enjoyable, informative and very helpful and friendly”

“I really enjoyed the presentation and workshop delivery”

Each workshop runs from 10.30am – 4.30pm and you will also get the chance to handle some interesting objects, take part in a quiz and to walk around the collections at each venue. At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to spot the causes of damage in their own collections and introduce monitoring and/or mitigation strategies.

Jane Thompson Webb

Join AIM & Jane Thompson Webb to learn how to Stop the Rot!

Dates and Venues

 19 April 2016

10.30 – 4.30

National Museum Scotland, Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF

 Website: National Museum Scotland

 Directions: Directions to National Museum Scotland

6 May 2016

10.30 – 4.30

This workshop is called ‘What’s Eating Your Collection? An Introduction to Integrated Pest Management (IPM 1)’ and will provide an introduction to insect pests in museums including recognising damage and monitoring

Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Castle Canyke Rd, Bodmin, Cornwall PL31 1EG

Website: Cornwall’s Regimental Museum

Directions:  Cornwall’s Regimental Museum

Booking early is advisable with a maximum of 20 places available at each workshop. You can book by completing the booking form below and emailing it to:

For further information, please contact:

Download the booking form: STR Booking Form 3

Download the workshop information sheet: AIM Conservation Workshops Information Sheet




Museum sector makes joint statement opposing unethical sale of collections

AIM joined a UK-wide group of museums funding, membership and development bodies released a joint statement today saying that they will not seek to work with museums whose governing bodies choose to sell objects from their collections in a manner that contravenes the long-established Accreditation Standard and Museum Association Code of Ethics.

The statement is the first of its kind from such a broad group of cultural organisations and reflects the concern felt about the unethical targeting of cultural collections for sale The ten signatories include some of the largest funding bodies for museums, such as Arts Council England (ACE), the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund, as well as membership bodies and museum organisations from across the UK, including the Association of Independent Museums. The group states that the UK’s cultural heritage and reputation will be put at risk if museum governing bodies decide to sell items from their collections for financial gain. It is concerned that a growing number of organisations are considering selling items from their collections. The Museums Association’s 2014 Cuts Survey found that 1 in 10 museums were considering selling items from their collection. A sharp decrease in public funding for museums – particularly those under Local Authority control – has increased the pressure to find new sources of funding.

The statement follows the controversial sales of Chinese ceramics from the Museum of Croydon by Croydon Borough Council in 2013 and of the Sekhemka ancient Egyptian statue from Northampton Museum by Northampton Borough Council in July 2014. Both sales went ahead against the advice of Arts Council England and the Museums Association, and led to Croydon Council and Northampton Borough Council’s Museums losing Accreditation and their expulsion from the Museums Association.

Today’s statement sets out to clarify the shared approach that the ten organisations will take towards unethical sale from a museum collection and the likely consequences. It includes the potential loss of investment opportunities from major funding bodies, as well as the loss of Accreditation and membership of sector bodies. National and Arts Council England Major Partner Museums will also refuse to loan objects or enter into partnership with the museum in question, which would mean that museums will lose out on touring exhibitions and professional support.

All signatories of the statement stressed that they wanted to be clear about the impact unethical sale will have so that they can focus instead on working closely with museums and their governing bodies to ensure that the cultural, industrial and scientific heritage of the UK is celebrated, preserved and accessible now and for future generations.

We are increasingly concerned that the sale of public collections for financial gain will do great damage to the trust that the public and supporters feel for their museums,” said Scott Furlong, the director of ACE. “That is why it is so important that we make this joint statement of support for the importance of managing our collections in an ethical and responsible way and are very clear about the consequences for those who choose not to do so.

The Statement can be read in full here.

The signatories of the statement in full are:

  • Arts Council England
  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Museums Association
  • National Museums Directors Council
  • The Art Fund
  • Association of Independent Museums
  • Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Northern Ireland Museums Council
  • Welsh Museums Federation
  • The National Archives

The Collections Trust are looking for Creative Employment partners

Creative & Cultural Skills recently published a blog by Nick Poole, CEO of the Collections Trust, explaining why they are seeking partners to join their consortium application to the Creative Employment Programme.

In an increasingly competitive economy, all creative industries need to stay relevant to survive. For museums, refreshing and innovating our public offer depends on developing a thriving, diverse workforce – enabling people from all walks of life to build a career in our great cultural institutions. When many people think of a career in museums, they can be put off by the idea that they will need post-graduate degrees in history and fine art just to get their foot in the door. In reality, the modern museum sector demands a rich mix of creative, cultural and entrepreneurial skills. We need people who can inspire classrooms full of schoolchildren, deliver innovative programmes or build award-winning apps to help in the mission to engage as many people as possible in their cultural heritage.Read more of the blog here: The Collections Trust are looking for Creative Employment partners.

The blog goes on to explain that Collections Trust is looking for museum or cultural heritage institutions considering creating an apprenticeship in a collections-based role to join them in a consortium bid. Creative & Cultural Skills can provide financial support up to £1,500 or £2,000 per year (depending on the salary basis of the apprenticeship) and the Collections Trust is keen to add value to this by networking culture-sector employers and supporting the sharing of insights and experiences.

The deadline for expressions of interest in joining the Collections Trust’s consortium is Friday 29th August and CT encourage interested parties to make contact with them before then to discuss ideas and interest.

Find out more about the Collections Trust’s call for partners.


Tips on collections care during digitisation from @MarchesNetwork

Becky Harvey, Flying Collections Assistant, for the Marches Network, recently led a workshop for volunteers about collections care during digitisation. The workshop marked the launch of the Pen Museum’s archive digitisation project and looked specifically at ways of protecting 2D archival items to support this project.

You can read the full blog here. Below are some of the main tips that came out of the day.

Although the session was concerned with archives, much of the advice given is relevant for 3D objects too. Here are some of the tips from the day

  • Archives should be stored in a cool, dark environment with a stable relative humidity. To help achieve this keep them in acid-free storage enclosures away from windows, doors and radiators. Avoid storing boxes on the floor.
  • Keep similar materials together and try to match documents to the size of the box to avoid movement. Don’t try to fit too many items in one box.
  • Museum objects and archives are most likely to be damaged by inappropriate handling techniques.
  • Gloves can reduce your dexterity meaning it’s more likely you will damage paper items. The National Archives’ policy is that gloves are not required for safe handling unless easily damaged material, such as photographs, are being handled.
  • It is important to ensure your hands are clean by washing and drying before handling and refrain from applying hand cream. Don’t lick your fingers to turn pages.
  • How to care for... documents and archivesRemove any jewellery that might catch or scratch the materials you are working with and any nail polish that could discolour it.
  • Prepare your working area and the route you will take before moving boxes or documents. Ensure these areas are free from food and drink and that they are clean, clear and tidy. Prop open any doors or ask someone to guide you.
  • Don’t struggle: if an item is heavy or large ask for help or use a tray or trolley to move it.
  • We handle museum objects very differently to the way we would use them at home. Try to forget about the object’s function. When working with books never remove from a shelf by pulling on the head-cap and ensure the angle of opening does not strain the binding structure.
  • Keep documents flat and fully supported, ideally lift on a piece of acid free card to avoid touching the actual document. If you have to touch it, try to only handle blank parts of the page.
  • Don’t assume that modern documents will be more robust than older ones. In the 19th century mechanised papermaking and printing used cheap wood pulp which is inherently acidic and more likely to deteriorate. Furthermore resins used in production create sulphuric acid which attacks paper turning it yellow and brittle.
  • Look out for signs of pest infestation and learn to recognise common insect pests such as silverfish and booklice, which eat or graze on paper. You can find out more here.
  • Take notes in pencil rather than pen and keep potentially damaging stationery products away from your work area.

Click on ICON leaflet above for more information or for a copy of the handout from the session please contact Becky Harvey at

Updated Disposal Toolkit Published

An updated Disposal Toolkit is now available.

It has been published by the Museums Association and the UK Accreditation partnership: Arts Council England, CyMAL: a division of the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland and Northern Ireland Museums Council.
It is available on the Arts Council England (ACE) website:

The PRISM Fund is open for applications

The PRISM Fund 2014/15 is now open for applications. The Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material (PRISM) Fund awards grants towards the costs of acquisition and conservation of items or collections which are important in the history and development of science, technology, industry, and related fields.

The PRISM Fund can offer grants of up to £20,000, or 90% of the total project costs. Applications can be submitted at any time of the year, and will be assessed subject to budgetary constraints. A decision is usually given within two months of receiving an application. Decisions are made by the Arts Council using established criteria together with the advice of expert assessors (normally from national institutions).

The fund is administered by Arts Council England and covers England and Wales. A parallel fund for the purchase of objects relating to the arts, literature and history is administered by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Corresponding schemes are administered in Scotland and Northern Ireland by National Museums of Scotland and the Northern Ireland Museums Council respectively.

There is more information at:

AIM also provides grants for remedial and preventative conservation for its members, through funds donated by the Pilgrim Trust. All types of objects are eligible. For more information visit the AIM Website.

Free Collections Management Webinars

The Collections Trust are running a series of webinars on Collections Management, ideal for those who find the time and expense of travelling for training is a problem.

The webinars are aimed at small and medium-sized museums who are either Accredited or who are working towards Accreditation. They are free and aim to support the development of collections management skills. Webinars are facilitated by collections management experts from the museum sector.

Webinars will last approximately 1 hour and are presented in a variety of formats, accessible online through Collections Link. Some will take place live, while others will consist of pre-posted presentations, followed by audio or written web chats. No Registration is required. The link to get to the webinars will be posted on Collections Link before the event. The first one is on 14th February at noon.

Event enquiries

Contact Lucy Douglas, Events Manager
T +44 (0)20 7942 6080