National Museums Scotland has been collecting objects for over 150 years. In common with many other museums, one of the ways we ensure our collections are properly managed and accessible, is to review and, where appropriate dispose of those objects identified as no longer appropriate for the national collections.

What do we mean by disposals?

We mean the permanent removal of an object from our collections. When the item is of value to the heritage sector, we work to keep it in the public domain and seek to find a home for it in another museum.

When do we consider disposal?

Our collections are protected by an Act of Parliament and can only be considered for disposal if they meet one of the following categories:

  • The object is more suitable for use in another UK National Museum or Gallery.
  • The object is a duplicate of another inventoried object in our collection.
  • The object is unsuitable for retention in our collection falling outwith our collecting remit.
  • The object is damaged beyond economic repair.
  • The object is too hazardous to safely retain in the collection.

All recommendations for collection disposal have to meet a rigorous internal review and approval process.

When collection items approved for disposal are of potential value to the heritage sector, we work to keep them in the public domain. We do this by offering objects to other museums, galleries and heritage institutions using the Museums Association's 'Find an Object' website. This website is used by most museums and galleries in the UK, and allows us to reach a wide range of potential new owners. Priority is given to accredited museums but we also consider other museums and heritage organisations. When a more suitable home in the public domain cannot be found, objects may be offered for sale. All funds generated are used solely for the purpose of adding new objects to the collection.

As well as meeting the requirements of the Act of Parliament, our object disposal procedures are guided by the Museums Association’s Code of Ethics and Disposal Toolkit, the Collections Trust Spectrum 5.0 Standard and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Code of Ethics.

For further information about disposals and acquisitions see our Collections Development Strategy.

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