Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
ADMINISTRATION OF PARK MUSEUMS
SOME GENERAL POLICIES OF MUSEUM ADMINISTRATION
By Dorr G. Yeager.
The policies governing the administration of a museum, as other policies, should be strictly adhered to. Laxness in the adherence to these policies will result in failure of retaining an efficient museum staff.
Accessions: Among the most important policies are those relating to accessions for it is largely on the accessions that the success or failure of a museum rests. First of all as to the source of the gift. It has been pointed out in preceding papers that one need not be embarrassed in soliciting gifts. Tact must be used, of course, in this procedure. In accepting gifts, discretion must be used as to the type and relation, else the director will soon find himself overburdened with a collection of accessions which he is unable to use. We have pointed out the necessity and advisability of collecting only exhibits pertinent to the park itself. Gifts should be accepted only with the understanding that they are to be used as the director sees fit. The donor should never dictate the use to which a gift shall be put. Upon receipt of a gift, it should immediately be acknowledged in writing and it should then receive its accession number which should be attached. A brief history of the accession should then be made in the accession book with the number. The accession should then be catalogued, preferably in a card file with information similar to that entered in the accession book. It is advisable also to make an index of all donors. If the gift is not placed on display or in the study collection, it should be stored in a place where it will be immediately available when desired. Note of this storage should be made in the catalogue. Unless the above policies are carried out the collected accessions will be a confused mass of stored material with no order and less value.
Study collection: The study collections should be accessioned as anything else. They should then be made available for study. The policies governing these collections briefly are as follows:
- Study collections should be orderly and a definite system should be followed in regard to sequence.
- Study collections of birds, mammals, etc., should be fully labeled as to species, sex, locality, date, collector, etc.
- Study collections should be open only to those who know how to use them, and should not be indiscriminately thrown open to the public.
The policies governing the exhibits in a museum have been covered in previous papers. For the sake of convenience, however, they are set down in order.
- Exhibits should be arranged to tell a definite consecutive story. Each exhibit is a paragraph or a page as it were in the entire book or museum.
- Exhibits should be well labeled.
- Exhibits should be so arranged that the effect is pleasing to the eye. They should never be crowded.