Deaccession and Disposal Policy Indigenous Cultures
1. Purposes of Deaccessioning
The Trustees of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) may as required from time to time deaccession and dispose of Indigenous Cultures works, objects/artefacts from the collection for culturally sensitive reasons and to improve the collection by:
1.1 Removing works, objects/artefacts determined to be unfit or inappropriate for the collection;
1.2 reducing storage and maintenance costs;
1.3 rationalising, consolidating and focusing the collection.
2. Criteria for Deaccessioning
The circumstances when TMAG might decide to dispose of collection items include:
2.1 Works, objects/artefacts which may have been illegally obtained by the Museum or which may legitimately be claimed by an individual or their heirs, trustees or representatives, or by an organisation or institution representing a claimant community or nation;
2.2 works, objects/artefacts which are in poor physical condition, whether through accidental damage, deterioration, infestation or inherent vice and which are beyond restoration to a level suitable for public display, scholarly use or other appropriate museum purposes;
2.3 works, objects/artefacts which have been determined to be forgeries, or which have been falsely or wrongly attributed;
2.4 duplicates of a print or multiple whose retention serves no purpose for public display, scholarly use or other appropriate museum purposes;
2.5 works, objects/artefacts that fall outside the parameters of the collection, as defined by the Museum’s Acquisition Policy at the time of deaccessioning;
2.6 lack of provenance/documentation;
2.7 work, object/artefact or part of it is to be used for research by a bonafide research or cultural institution. Requests to undertake research on items in the collection that required the deaccessioning of items would need to be approved by The TMAG’s Tasmanian Aboriginal Advisory Council and Trustees before the work, object/artefact could be deaccessioned;
2.8 when an item has been stolen or lost;
2.9 objects/artefacts that come under the terms of the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975, and the Museums (Aboriginal Remains) Act 1984; and
2.10 when it is no longer ethical to keep items such as human remains, secret sacred objects, grave goods, death masks or any other object associated with death in the museum collection
Note: In exceptional circumstances this may include a work, object/artefact de- accessioned in order to raise capital for the acquisition of a work, collection as defined by the Museum’s Acquisition policy.
The following objects will generally not be considered for deaccessioning:
3.1 Items gifted or bequeathed, which have conditions attached expressly or by implication prohibiting deaccession;
3.2 items acquired less than ten years prior to the proposed deaccessioning shall not be considered unless, in the case of gifts consisting of a number of items, and there was an understanding between the TMAG and the donor that only selected items would become part of the collection.
3.3 Items that may by law be required to be retained or otherwise dealt with in accordance with heritage, archival or other similar legislation.
The following steps shall be followed in deaccessioning a work, object/artefact:
4.1 A proposal for deaccessioning shall be initiated by the Curator with immediate responsibility for the work, object/artefact or at the request of the Director or Trustees.
4.2 Except in the case of returns (see Section 2 Clause 2.1, above), the Museum’s clear and unrestricted title in the work shall be established.
4.3 A written deaccession proposal shall be prepared by the Curator and the proposal will include:
• full catalogue details of the work, object/artefact
• full details of the circumstances of the work’s, objects/artefacts acquisition, including any prohibitions or restrictions on deaccessioning (including statutory
• reasons for the proposed deaccessioning (see 2. above) recommendations for the means of disposal (see 5. below)
• estimated current market value of the work, if any.
4.4. The proposal will be submitted to TMAG’s Tasmanian Aboriginal Advisory Council to seek their endorsement for the deaccession of the proposed item/s and shall be approved in principle for deaccessioning on the absolute vote of TMAG’s Aboriginal Advisory Council.
4.5 The recommendation of TMAG’s Aboriginal Advisory Council along with the advice from the curator will be submitted to the Trustees. The item shall be approved in principle for deaccessioning on the absolute majority vote of the Trustees. Items that are considered to have no significant commercial value, i.e. less than $500, or such other amount as shall be determined by the Trustees from time to time, shall be deaccessioned. Items of significant commercial value, i.e. greater than $500, proceed to clause 4.5.
4.5 Notice of an ‘in principle’ deaccession shall be publicly advertised and the Minister for the Department of Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts informed of the deaccession proposal and forwarded a copy of the Notice.
4.6 The public notice will specify a period to enable representations to be made. Under normal circumstances a period of three months should generally elapse between the public notice and the final resolution relating to the deaccessioning and disposal.
4.7 The Trustees will take into account the representations made. Approval of deaccessioning requires five affirmative votes.
A deaccessioned work, object/artefact shall be disposed of by one of the following means:
5.1 Works, objects/artefacts are handed back to Aboriginal community/ies;
5.2 transfer or exchange to another museum or appropriate public or cultural institution;
5.3 exchange with a collector or dealer;
5.4 in the case of returns (see 2.1 above), by gift to the original owner, their heirs, trustees or representatives, or to a responsible institution, organisation or agency representing a community or nation;
5.5 transfer within the museum for use as a hands-on or educational aid; and
5.6 destroy or recycle. The latter should only be an option of last resort.
In the case of exchange or sale other than by public auction, at least one independent valuation of the work and in the case of exchange with a collector or dealer at least two independent authentications and valuations shall be obtained prior to the exchange or sale, from a qualified external assessor. In relation to an exchange (clause 2 & 3) and after certified valuations and authentication, payment of a sum of money shall be made or received in recognition of the difference in value between the works exchanged if appropriate.
6. Disposal Restrictions
The selling of deaccessioned items is an area in which ethical issues and conflicts of interest are most likely to arise. Under no circumstance shall a deaccessioned work, object or artefact be purchased by or transferred or given to any Trustee or staff member of the Museum or any member of their immediate families or agents.
7. Proceeds from Sale
7.1 Proceeds from the sale of a deaccessioned work shall be reserved and applied only to acquisitions, with priority given if appropriate to works for the same area of the collection.
7.2 Where practicable, the credit line of a work acquired with the proceeds of the disposal of a donated work shall acknowledge the original donor.
On completion of the deaccessioning and disposal process:
8.1 The Museum’s registers and files shall be amended to note the deaccessioning and disposal of the object/artefact, and copies of photographic and written records pertaining to the object/artefact shall be retained by the Museum;
8.2 the work’s accession number shall not be reassigned; and
8.3 the deaccessioning and disposal of the objects/artefacts shall be reported in the next Annual Report of the Trustees of the Museum.