Collections 101: Accessioning, Registrar, and Deed of Gift
Posted On: 12/19/2016 - 12:08pm, Posted By: Anne Kling: Manager, Collections Databases and Websites
When collection items are received by Museum Center, they go through an official process to become the permanent property of the museum. This process is called "accessioning" (ack-SESH-on-ing). First, a staff member will fill out a deposit receipt with a description of the items and the name and address of the person who is depositing the items at the museum. Next, the curator will review the items to see if they are appropriate for our permanent collection based on our collecting policy. He or she will fill out the necessary paperwork to recommend that Museum Center either accept or reject the items. A committee of curators and other staff members, known as the New Acquisitions Review Committee, meets regularly to consider the curators’ recommendations regarding newly-acquired items. If the committee agrees to accept the new acquisitions, each group of items will be officially accessioned into our collections.
Each grouping is called an "accession" and receives an "accession number." An accession can be one or more items from a specific donor, for example. An accession could also be a group of specimens obtained during a research expedition into the field, or they could be acquired by other means. Most acquisitions come to Museum Center as a gift from a donor. We generally receive about 250-300 accessions a year. Each accession can also be called an "accession lot" or, simply, a "lot."
The registrar (RE-gi-strar), a member of the collections team, handles the legal paperwork so Museum Center can take ownership of the accession. The registrar will prepare a document called a “Deed of Gift" which the donor will sign, thus transferring ownership of the accession to Museum Center. The deposit receipt, the curator's written review, and the Deed of Gift are kept permanently on file.