Collections Care

This section of Sustaining Places is dedicated to helping you manage your museum collection no matter what the artifacts are.

Visit our individual pages for more information on specific collections care issues including electronic collections, furniture, hazardous material, historic documents and books, metals, organic and animal materials, photographs, and textiles.


Best Practices’s booklet introduces collections care, including information on fundraising strategies, preservation tips, and visitor engagement with collections.

The National Park Service provides its Museum Handbook – Part I: Museum Collections.

The Library of Congress offers a searchable database of advice on collections care.

This leaflet from the Northeast Document Conservation Center discusses how to choose and work with a conservator.

In the state of Delaware, on March of 2018 Gov. John Carney signed the Abandoned Cultural Property Act. These laws now allow museums to establish title to items left in their care after the designated loan period has ended and the owner cannot be located. Click here for details on House Bill 231. See this article for more information about the laws and the role University of Delaware faculty and students played in devising and lobbying for the act to be signed into law.

The State Historical Society of Iowa has made available The Field Guide for Museums, a manual of fundamental best practices for museums.

The City of Bowie Museums provides this resource on General Guidelines for Finding a Conservator.

From the Winterthur Museum, here is a video about care in handling.

The Connecting to Collections Community (from the Institute of Museum and Library Services) provides lists of online resources that address the care of specific collection types (by media).

The Minnesota Historical Society has a good example of an Historic Housekeeping Handbook.

Conservation Online (CoOL) from the Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation is geared toward providing technical information for conservators. Non-specialists can also benefit from the resources here.

Tips and Tricks

Working with a limited budget? This webinar is designed with you in mind.

Also look at our collection of Two-Minute Technique videos for more tips and tricks on cleaning, storing, and otherwise caring for your collection.