Deaccession and Disposal Policy (2008) - Cultural Heritage Collection

1.    Purposes Of Deaccessioning

The Trustees of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery may as required from time to time deaccession and dispose of history items from the collection to improve the collection by:

Removing items determined to be unfit or inappropriate for the collection;

•     reducing storage and maintenance costs;

•     rationalising, consolidating and focusing the collection.

2.    Criteria for Deaccessioning

The following classes of work may be considered for deaccessioning:

2.1    Items which may not have been lawfully 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    Items 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    Items 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    Items which 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    Item is unsafe (eg contains hazardous chemicals, e.g. asbestos, mercury). Disposal would be undertaken with government legislative requirements for handling of dangerous goods.

2.8    Item or part of it is to be used for research by a bonafide research or cultural institution. Approval would need to be sought from the Trustees before the item could be deaccessioned.

2.9    Items that come under the terms of The Return and Restitution of Cultural Property Act.

3.    Restrictions

3.1    Works shall not be deaccessioned which are subject to a trust or other legal impediment which forbids deaccessioning.

3.2 The following objects will generally not be considered for deaccessioning:

3.2.1 Works in respect of which there is an expectation, an informal trust or a moral obligation that they will not be deaccessioned without having taken into consideration the views of the donor, the personal representatives of the donor’s estate, or any other person the Trustees consider has a relevant interest in the proposed deaccession.

3.2.2 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.

3.2.3 Items that may by law be required to be retained or otherwise dealt with in accordance with heritage, archival or other similar legislation.

4.    Procedures

The following steps shall be followed in deaccessioning an item:

4.1    A proposal for deaccessioning shall be initiated by the Curator with immediate responsibility for the item, 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 of the item shall be established;

4.3    A written deaccession proposal shall be prepared by the responsible Curator through the Director to the Trustees, and the proposal will include:

full catalogue details of the item

full details of the circumstances of the item's acquisition, including any prohibitions or restrictions on deaccessioning (including statutory restrictions)

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 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 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 four affirmative votes.

5.    Disposal

A deaccessioned item shall be disposed of by one of the following means:

5.1    Internal transfer eg to education hands on collection or parts to be used in restoration of other collection items

5.2 Transfer to another museum or appropriate public or cultural institution;

5.3    Exchange with another museum or appropriate public or cultural institution.

5.4    Exchange with a collector or dealer *

5.5    Sale by public tender.

5.6    Sale by public auction.

5.7    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.

5.8    Destruction.


In the case of exchange or sale other than by public auction, at least one independent valuation of the item 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 3 & 4) 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.

Additional notes:

Where an item is purchased with grant assistance it is often a condition of such grants that the funding body is advised the item is being considered for deaccessioning.

6.  Disposal Restrictions

Under no circumstance shall a deaccessioned item be purchased by or transferred or given to any Trustee or employee of the Museum or any member of their immediate families.

7.    Proceeds from Sale

7.1    Proceeds from the sale of a deaccessioned item shall be reserved and applied only to acquisitions, with priority given if appropriate to items for the same area of the collection;

7.2    Where practicable, the credit line of a item acquired with the proceeds of the disposal of a donated item shall acknowledge the original donor.

8.    Documentation

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 item, and copies of photographic and written records pertaining to the item shall be retained by the Museum.

8.2    The item’s accession number shall not be reassigned.

8.3    The deaccessioning and disposal of the item shall be reported in the next Annual Report of the Trustees of the Museum.

Initial draft prepared by Senior Curator of History Elspeth Wishart, January 2003. This document is based on the Deaccession and Disposal Policy for the Art and Decorative Arts Collection (31 October 2001).

Updated 10 June 2008 by A Rozefelds and the revised policy includes Photography and Document collections.