Guideline 5.2

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Guideline 5.2:
The curator (or appropriate team member) considers the significance and value of each object to determine its security needs.
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Why is the ability to provide sufficient security a top conservation priority?

For those objects robust enough to withstand the rigors of exhibition, the possibility of theft remains a serious threat. The disappearance of an object is the ultimate failure in terms of object care. A stolen object is usually lost permanently; and even those that are recovered may well have been damaged by exposure to rough handling or harmful conditions.
During exhibit object selection, the curator (or appropriate team member) should rate the value of each object to the collection and thus establish the level of security it will require. In some cases the exhibit conservator can determine what safeguards will be necessary to protect the object; at other times, a security specialist from the museum or outside firm may be needed.
If highly valuable objects are to be selected for exhibit, exhibit planners should consider whether the project would be able to provide the appropriate level of security for them.

How is the significance of an object used to determine its security needs while on exhibition?

Assessing object significance: An object’s value and significance to the museum collection provide good indicators of that object’s security needs during exhibition: the higher the significance, the higher the security needs. A curator, historian or other subject area specialist may assess an object’s significance using the following criteria:
• Rarity
• National or international importance
• Historical associations
• Relevance to the local collection
• Purchase cost or replacement cost
Determining security needs based on object significance: Museum administrators and curators have created various schemes to categorize object significance. The system recommended below is based on the British Museum and Galleries Commission ranking system. This system assigns an object to one of four levels of significance and value within the museum collection and indicates the level of security it requires:
• High (requiring tight control)
• Moderate (requiring moderate control)
• Limited (requiring limited control)
• Basic (requiring basic control)

Sample Form

  • Exhibit Object Significance Assessment: Rating Object Significance and Value to the Collection