Collection Management Policies - Policy on the Physical Verification of the Collections

Reviewed October 2010
Next Review October 2015


Museums must be properly accountable for the collections in their care. This is the position of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, where objects are kept in trust for present and future generations in Wales, and others, to enjoy and learn from. The Museum conforms to a fundamental principle of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), namely that ’A museum must know at any time for exactly which items it is legally responsible (this includes loans as well as permanent collections), and where each item is located’.


In order to achieve this level of accountability, we recognise that it is essential to maintain a programme for physical verification of our collections. This policy statement aims to clarify the manner by which this will be achieved, and forms part of our objective to maintain the care and security of our collections.


Physical verification is the process whereby the Museum establishes, at a given point in time, the physical presence and location of a particular object/specimen in its care. The outcome of the verification process will be recorded on a computer database, where modern computerised records exist, but otherwise manually.


4.1  We will meet the requirement for physical verification by adopting and maintaining certain specific verification procedures, including the establishment, where appropriate, of:

  • a rolling programme of systematic verification of our collections;
  • a programme of 'spot checks', whereby objects/specimens for checking will not be predetermined but selected on a random sampling basis.

4.2  In addition, the verification of objects/specimens which occurs during the following procedures will be recorded, preferably on one of our computerised collections management systems, or manually if necessary when:

  • object-/specimen-related data is entered onto one of our computerised collections management systems;
  • objects/specimens are conserved, re-packaged, re-stored or re-located;
  • objects/specimens are placed on display;
  • objects/specimens are used for research/enquiry purposes;
  • routine listing is undertaken of all type -, figured or cited items/objects;
  • loans in enter and loans out exit the Museum.

4.3 Implementation of the above procedures will be targeted relative to the size and the perceived 'value', both financial and academic, of particular collections. The procedures used will aim to offer best value for the effort expended. Targets for physical verification will be set annually by the Director of Collections and Research.


5.1  Responsibility for co-ordinating the verification exercises within departments, the procedures to be followed, and how the verifications will be recorded, are presented in procedural manuals.

5.2  Departments will produce a quarterly report on the progress of the physical verification of their collections for the Director of Collections and Research. The process will be overseen by the Head of Knowledge & Information Management and be subject to the scrutiny of the Museum’s Internal Auditor. Meaningful exceptions will be reported to the Performance Review Committee by the Director of Collections and Research, and any procedural issues identified by the Internal Auditor will be reported to the Audit Committee.

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