Tagged: Best Practice

Guidance on writing the Forward Plan for Accreditation

Support for Museums
We have recently run a couple of training courses for museums in the North West on Forward Planning for Accreditation.

Our training days provided a chance to explore the forward planning process and to examine the minimum requirements for Accreditation. During the training, we provided guidance materials based on some recommended online sources of help.

The feedback was very positive and we thought it would be useful to share the some of the  guidance here, for those who missed the training.

Forward Planning Requirements

Accreditation 2011 expects museums to have a forward plan appropriate to the size and scale of the organisation. It must cover the following areas:

  • the museum’s statement of purpose
  • a review of the previous forward plan
  • an analysis of the environment in which it exists
  • consultation and analysis of views
  • its key aims
  • the specific objectives beneath each key aim
  • how it will achieve its objectives
  • a resource plan showing the people and money available to meet its objectives
  • the date the plan will be reviewed

Accredited Museums have always needed to submit a forward plan,but the requirements have changed. The elements that are new are: a review of your previous forward plan, an analysis of the current environment in which your museum exists, and evidence that you have consulted stakeholders and analysed their views. The resource plan requirement is also more detailed than before as you are expected to provide a narrative about how you will fund and staff your activities as well as a spending plan or budget.

Support Materials

The most effective plans are written with contributions from the people who will deliver them, and after consultation with those they will affect. This may make the process of writing the plan seem more complicated, but the resulting plan is likely to be far more effective as everyone will understand the plan and their role in it.

The South West Museum Federation produced a useful online toolkit for museums to use. It was written in line with Accreditation guidance and can be accessed here.

Another guidance sheet on collections link that helps to explain the relationships between plans, procedures and policies within a collections management framework.

If you need advice on writing your forward plan CMNetwork are available to provide Museum Development Support advice to museums in the North West until the end of March 2013 when we will be handing over to the new museum development team. You can contact us be email

Susanna Hillhouse, Collections Management Network – on behalf of Museum Development North West


More on writing policies for accreditation

Looking for Inspiration?

You may find it useful to read the blog post from Tuesday where I published links to some online guidance on writing policies for Accreditation, before you read this one.

We have had feedback that the guidance is useful, however, the most common request we get when providing advice or training on policies, is to see examples of other museums’ policies.

Good online examples are still quite rare. The most frequently consulted online example is the National Museum of Wales Collections Management Policy (you can google it yourselves!). It is an excellent example of an integrated collections management policy. However, at the time of writing this blog post, the version available online shows the date 2008. As this was three years before the new Accreditation guidance came out, the policies may not be fully compliant with the 2011 standard. So, do look at it for inspiration, and do look at other museum policies that you find online, but don’t be tempted to copy them word for word!

A useful approach is to ask other museums that have already gone through the new Accreditation  process to share their policies with you. It is especially helpful to share ideas with museums of a similar size or type to yours. Remember, it may not be appropriate to write  a policy similar to a national museum if you are running a small local history museum!

You can check the timetable for Accreditation in the North West to get an idea which museums have already been assessed against the new standard by downloading the list from the ACE website.

Tips from a local museum service

We don’t want you to bombard Lancashire County Council Museum Service with enquiries, but Joanna Hayward, their Registrar, has agreed to share some information about the process they went through to create their new policies. Joanna had previously attended training that we provided in Preston in 2011/12.

How Lancashire County Museum Service developed the new policies:

  • We looked at other museums’ policies to get ideas for our own
  • Then we checked what policies the organisation already had in place and asked about the processes used to write them
  • We gathered appropriate people together to brainstorm the issues (LCC carried out brainstorming sessions for their environmental policy and their access policy. The documentation policy  was discussed in a team meeting)
  • After brainstorming, and the team discussions, a draft policy was written up by one person using the sheets from the discussion sessions.
  • The draft policies were compared with other museums’ policies to see if anything major had been missed out
  • The drafts were then circulated internally for consultation with museum staff, and other selected cultural service staff, before a final version was adopted

Lancashire County Council’s Accreditation return was submitted to ACE at the end of January 2013 – We wish them all the best!

Jo Hayward has said she’d be happy to talk to other museums about the process she went through.

Conclusion – to today’s and Tuesday’s blog posts…

Writing new policies from scratch can appear daunting, and it does take a bit of time (something we are all short of). However, the policies do not need to be long, and we are confident that this guidance will help you to produce the documents that you need for Accreditation. Moreover, if you develop them thoughtfully, with input from staff, volunteers, and trustees (as appropriate), and ensure that you align them with the purpose and mission of your organisation, they will provide renewed focus and help to guide the work in your museum over the coming years.

Susanna Hillhouse, Collections Management Network,

on behalf of Museum Development North West

Guidance on writing policies for accreditation

Support for Museums
We have recently run a couple of training courses for museums in the North West on writing policies for Accreditation.

Our training days provided a chance to explore what makes a good policy and to examine the minimum requirements for Accreditation. During the training, we provided participants with guidance material and examples of other museum policies.

The feedback was very positive and we thought it would be useful to share the some of the written guidance here, for those who missed the training.

New Policy Requirements

Accreditation 2011 expects museums to have three new policies relating to collections that were not needed under the 2004 standard.

  • Documentation Policy (Accreditation requirement 2.3)
  • Care and Conservation Policy (Accreditation requirement 2.4)
  • Access Policy (Accreditation requirement 3.1.5)

Over the next two years all Accredited museums will need to develop and adopt these new policies if they don’t already have them in place. As all museums are different, it is important to write a policy suitable for your museum, not to adopt a policy written by someone else. Rather than provide standardised template paragraphs, we have developed a guidance document, helping you to understand the Accreditation requirements and with tips for writing a good policy. We have published it on Collections Link and you can download it here:

The Collections Development Policy (or Acquisition and Disposal Policy)

All Accredited museums already have an acquisition and disposal policy in place. Because of the need for compliance with a number of key pieces of legislation, and the ethical considerations involved in acquisition and disposal, ACE provide a template policy which needs to be adapted for your museum. Some of the paragraphs are mandatory and some are headings only and have to be written by you. There are a couple of changes to this policy in the 2011 standard, so you will need to review your policy and update it according to the guidelines. You can download the most up to date Template – Collections Development Policy from the ACE website.

Integrated Collections Management – How policies, plans and procedures relate to each other and help deliver your mission.

There are three other guidance sheets on Collections Link to help explain how policies, plans and procedures are used to help deliver effective collections management. These were written in support of the Accreditation Scheme and can be found by clicking the links below:

Collections Management Framework – Guidance Sheet 1

Collections Management: Policies – Guidance Sheet 2

Collections Management: Planning and Procedures – Guidance Sheet 3

……Return to the Blog on Thursday this week for more on writing policies for Accreditation, and a local ‘good practice’ example.

Susanna Hillhouse, Collections Management Network – on behalf of Museum Development North West

Museum Development on-line Q&A – this Wednesday

Do you find it difficult to get away from the office to go to training days? If so, why not try our on-line question and answer session? On Wednesday 27th February, from 2pm to 4pm, Collections Management Network will available to answer museum development questions on-line at the Museum Development North West blog https://museumdevelopmentnorthwest.wordpress.com/

We’ll be discussing topics including: how Boards of Directors can adapt and develop, how to find non-museum users and turn them into users, developing collections management plans and policies and writing effective forward plans.

All members of Collections Management Network will be available to answer questions and you can find out more about us here.

So, make yourself a cup of tea and log onto the MDNW blog at 2pm on Wednesday to join the discussion.

Collections Trust Awards for – Best Practice in Collections 2013 – open for nominations

Collections Trust have opened nominations for the 2013 Collections Trust Awards. The awards will be presented at Open Culture Conference in London on 2nd July.

There are two award categories:

  • Best Collections Practice –  celebrates projects which demonstrate the application of innovative practice to improve the sustainability and use of collections in arts and cultural organisations.
  • Collections on a Budget – celebrates projects which demonstrate improvement in collections management by organisations with a turnover of less than £500,000. The winner of this award will receive a prize of £500.

The awards aim to encourage the best possible practice, and recognise and celebrate outstanding work in the collections community in the UK.

To see the announcement, click here

To find out how to enter, click here

Closing date for nominations is 30th April 2013

If you want to discuss your collections project, or need advice on aspects of Collections Management don’t forget you can contact Collections Mangement Network on mdnw@cmnetwork.org.uk for developmental advice until the end of March as part of our contract with Museum Development North West