Helpful Information About Collection Surveys
Museums for America Collections Stewardship grants may fund General Conservation Surveys, Detailed Conservation Surveys, and Environmental Surveys, all of which are described here:
General Conservation Survey
A General Conservation Survey is a broad assessment of all your collections and environmental conditions. Its purpose is to generally describe conditions, identify conservation problems, and suggest future conservation activities. For most institutions, it is the logical first step in collections conservation.
The General Conservation Survey report should include the following:
- an executive summary
- general information about your museum
- goals of the survey
- overview of your collections, their condition, and policies governing their care
- descriptions of the condition of your building, facilities, and all exhibition and storage areas
- descriptions of climate control and environmental conditions
- information about staffing, including training needs
- recommendations for future conservation care in order of priority (to be used as the basis of a long-range conservation plan)
Detailed Conservation Survey
A Detailed Conservation Survey is a systematic, item-by-item examination of all or part of your museum’s collections by a conservation professional. The end product of a Detailed Conservation Survey should be a set of condition reports that identifies the condition of each object or specimen, its treatment priority, and the cost and method of treatment. A Detailed Conservation Survey should normally precede any request for an MFA Collections Stewardship Grant proposal to fund treatment.
This type of survey can help your museum identify conservation problems specific to a particular collection, object, or specimen, including the need for treatment; and establish priorities for treatment and determine the resources and time necessary to address any issues.
An Environmental Survey is an assessment of your museum’s environmental conditions, including but not limited to temperature, relative humidity, and light. It is conducted by a conservation professional with input from other types of consultants as needed. MFA funds may be used to survey environmental conditions in exhibition areas, storage areas, and other places where collections are housed.
An Environmental Survey can help a museum:
- identify specific environmental problems,
- set priorities for making environmental improvements,
- design specific solutions for correcting environmental problems,
- develop a monitoring program to better determine existing environmental conditions, and/or
- map collections (for living plants).