Frequently Asked Questions

Managing a Museum


Who should we contact if our museum is affected by a natural disaster?

Community museums and public art galleries now have the Arts Victoria's Disaster Protocol to draw on. This can provide quick assistance with up to $5,000 towards disaster recovery expenses.

You should also contact us, as we may be able to put you in touch with the appropriate people/organisations with expertise in disaster recovery specific to your situation.

Museums Victoria has some online information about communities that have recovered from natural disasters: http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/websites/making-history/themes/natural-disasters/

What’s a ‘museum code’ and how do we obtain one?

Museum codes are the National Union Catalogue (NUC) symbols. These unique identifiers for collecting organisations are issued by the National Library of Australia and are administered by ILRS (Interlibrary Resource Sharing Directory). The ILRS is primarily concerned with organisations that make their collections available for loan via the interlibrary loans scheme.

Firstly, check to make sure that your museum hasn’t already been allocated a code by going to www.nla.gov.au/ilrs/ – click on Search and enter the name, or part of the name of your institution. To obtain a museum code, stay at www.nla.gov.au/ilrs/ and click on the New Entry form.

Contact the ILRS Administration on 1800 026155, at http://www.nla.gov.au/ilrs/ or via email ilrs@nla.gov.au

What things should I know before starting a museum?

Starting a museum is a difficult and lengthy process and we stress that you should undertake all the necessary planning and try not to rush into things.

We have a number of resources, and there are many resources online that will be able to assist you. Most importantly, the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries is the best reference document for things you should consider when starting a museum.

We have an information sheet on our website about starting a museum:
http://www.mavic.asn.au/assets/Info_Sheet_14_Starting_or_Improving.pdf

And a lot of other resources here: http://www.mavic.asn.au/resources, including templates for Forward Planning, Collection Policies and Interpretation Policies.

The National Museum of NZ also has a very extensive guide to starting a museum, which in many ways is also relevant in Australia: http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/NationalServices/Resources/PlanningANewMuseum.pdf

We also have a couple of publications on Exhibition Design, perhaps most relevant would be: Exhibitions: a practical guide for small museums and galleries: http://www.mavic.asn.au/exhibitions_book

Regarding registration of business names/not for profit setup, refer to the resources here:
http://www.asic.gov.au/asic/asic.nsf/byheadline/Registering+not-for-profit+or+charitable+organisations

We would recommend that you also get in touch with the arts/culture/heritage section of your local Council to discuss the project further with them and gain their support.

How can my museum get Accredited?

To become accredited, museums spend 2–3 years developing procedures, policies and practice to meet recognised museum standards, based on the National Standards for Museums and Galleries. Training, advice and information are available to assist museums in meeting these standards. Further information: http://www.mavic.asn.au/museum_accreditation_program

Our community museum wants to become an incorporated association, how do we get started?

This involves a specific procedural and legal process. Please refer to this document: 
http://www.ourcommunity.com.au/management/view_help_sheet.do?articleid=15

Where can I find museum legal resources?

Follow this link to lawyer Shane Simpson’s (a renowned lawyer in the sector) online legal resources: http://www.simpsons.com.au/online-resources/online-library/museums-galleries/

The Arts Law Centre also provides some resources and advice. The Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) is the national community legal centre for the arts. Arts Law is a not-for-profit company which was established with the support of the Australia Council for the Arts in 1983 to provide specialised legal and business advice and referral services, professional development resources and advocacy for artists and arts organisations. http://www.artslaw.com.au/about/

What is On-Demand Training?

MA (Vic) meets the needs of small organisations by arranging workshops ‘on-demand’. These provide an introduction to museum practices and issues. They’re also a way to refresh or update knowledge acquired from prior training and experience.

Choose from a range of topics:

  • business planning
  • care of photographs and negatives
  • caring for textiles
  • caring for your collections
  • cataloguing
  • conservation planning
  • disaster planning
  • exhibition design – art
  • exhibition design – social history exhibitions
  • exhibitions: from concept development to delivery
  • grant writing
  • marketing
  • significance assessment
  • storage, handling and movement of objects
  • writing labels

> Full workshop descriptions and fees

‘On-Demand’ training is available to members and non-members. This service can be provided by a suitable consultant in Victoria’s regional centres and metropolitan Melbourne. Contact us to discuss your museum or network’s training needs.

 Audience Engagement & Audience Development

The National Standards Taskforce developed the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries in consultation with the museum and gallery sector and with reference to current industry practices, existing resources, and museum development and accreditation programs. They are designed to be an accessible tool for museums and galleries nationwide.

MA Nexus: you can post questions and join discussions with other MA members online here
http://manexus.ning.com/

Museum 3: website which explores the future of cultural institutions.
http://museum3.org/

Museum 3 Museum Audience Research group
http://museum3.org/group/audienceresearch

Lynda Kelly runs a popular Audience Research blog as part of the Australian Museum website:
http://australianmuseum.net.au/Audience-Research/
http://australianmuseum.net.au/Audience-Research-Blog

Museums Australia National Office Evaluation & Visitor Research National Network: http://museumsaustralia.org.au/site/page67.php 

Collection Management

What are the National Standards for Museums and Galleries?

The National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries is a document produced by The National Standards Taskforce. It provides standards, tips and resources in all areas of museum best practice.

Who can advise me about collection storeroom fumigation?

Our factsheets regarding museum storerooms are a good starting point:
http://www.mavic.asn.au/assets/Info_Sheet_8_Creating_Stores.pdf

The State Library Conservation Hotline provides free advice over the phone:

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/services/conservation-advice
http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/explore/conservation-guides

The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation also provide some telephone advice and you can engage them for a fee if required:
http://cultural-conservation.unimelb.edu.au/services/

This website also provides some good resources regarding pest management.

What is the Small Museums Cataloguing Manual and how can I get a copy?

The Small Museums Cataloguing Manual (4th edition) is the industry-standard reference for community museums wishing to start or develop their collections cataloguing. This essential practical tool is FREE to download:
http://www.mavic.asn.au/services/small-museums-cataloguing-manual

Where can I get items from our collection valued?

You should refer to the Cultural Gifts list of approved valuers:
http://www.arts.gov.au/sites/default/files/pdfs/cgp-listOfApprovedValuersReport.pdf

This link from Museums Victoria also explains how/where to get things valued:
http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/valuations/

What is Victorian Collections and for whom is it suitable?

Victorian Collections is a free, easy to use, online cataloguing system that is available to all types of collecting organisations throughout Victoria.

Victorian Collections is being developed for groups wanting to take the initial step from manual to digital cataloguing. All records are stored securely and permanently online. More information: http://www.mavic.asn.au/services/victorian-collections

Audio Slideshows - Organising your Collection Store and Photographing your Collection Items

MA (Vic) have developed a series of free practical online training sessions reflecting best practice technique on caring for and providing access to museum collections.

We are pleased to announce that the first two videos in this series are now available online:

  • How to Photograph Collection Items
    Demonstrating ways in which you can use basic equipment to take good photographs of your collection items for documentation and digitisation purposes.
  • Organising Your Collection Store
    Showing tips and techniques on how you can organise your collection store, with examples from the Koorie Heritage Trust and the Victoria Police Museum.

More practical training videos will be produced throughout the year. Thank you to the City of Melbourne and the Public Record Office Victoria for their support of this project.

> View the practical training videos online

Where can I have our textiles cleaned?

Cleaning these types of objects is quite complex and best done by a professional.  You can find textile conservators on AICCM's website
http://www.aiccm.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38&Itemid=37

Where can we buy sticky insect traps, and what’s the best way to use them?

Sticky insect traps are a way to check for insects present in different areas of your museum and identify them. You can then research the specific risks these species may contain and put suitable strategies into place to banish them from your museum.

This process is a standard part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Rudduck are a Melbourne stockist of sticky traps. For more information, see our Info_Sheet_6:_Monitoring the Museum Environment.pdf (pdf file, 65kb) in museums:
http://www.museumpests.net/default.asp

What is “significance” and why is it considered so important?

Significance is the historic, aesthetic, scientific and social values that an object or collection has for past, present and future generations. Significance refers to more than the physical fabric or appearance of an object. It incorporates all the elements that contribute to an object’s (or collection’s) meaning, including its:

  • context
  • history
  • uses
  • social and spiritual values.

This information can help you to draw informed conclusions about why an object is significant. Significance is not fixed – it may increase or diminish over time.

A significant collection can show what is or has been significant about the community it represents, whether that is a local area or shared interest community.

You can download the publication Significance: A Guide to Assessing the Significance of Cultural Heritage Objects and Collections – from:
http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/publications/significance2-0/

What is a Significance Assessment and why would our museum do one?

Significance assessment is the process of studying and understanding the meanings and values of objects. It helps you clearly articulate the value and meaning of objects and collections, and make sound judgements and good decisions about conserving, interpreting and managing them, now and into the future. The direct benefits of a significance assessment are its application and contribution to:

  • funding applications
  • disaster planning
  • collection strategy
  • exhibition planning
  • marketing and promotion

Heritage Victoria offers funding for community collections to undertake Significance Assessments – find out more at http://www.heritage.vic.gov.au/. You can also place a listing on the Professional Historians Association Website to find people who may be interested in doing a significance assessment, or who might have the right expertise for your collection. More info here: http://www.phavic.org.au/employment1.htm

Exhibition Development

Our museum needs some help designing an exhibition space, how can we get started?

We have a couple of publications on Exhibition Design, perhaps most relevant would be Exhibitions: a practical guide for small museums and galleries:
http://www.mavic.asn.au/exhibitions_book

Our Exhibition Grants program http://www.mavic.asn.au/grants makes funds available to Victorian organisations to develop static and touring exhibitions.

Our museum has some showcases/museum infrastructure to donate.  How can I offer these to other museums? 
Contact us.  We can consider notifying our MAP museums or listing it in our weekly member e-bulletin.

Who provides showcases for sale/hire?

Showfront do hire of museum showcases, as well as sales: 1300 993636, sales@showfront.com.au, www.showfront.com.au

Grants and Fundraising

What grants are available to museums and galleries?

There are a variety of funding channels for museums and galleries, including:

The National Library of Australia Awards and Grants:
http://www.nla.gov.au/awards-and-grants

The Public Record Office Victoria Grants and Awards:
http://prov.vic.gov.au/community-programs/grants-awards

The Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS) grants:
http://www.anmm.gov.au/grants

Some websites worth keeping an eye on:

Philanthropy Australia website: http://www.philanthropy.org.au

Local government grants
Contact your local council to see what grants they have available. A list of local council websites is available here:
http://www.vic.gov.au/government-economy/local-councils.html

Funding Centre: http://www.fundingcentre.com.au

The Victorian Government grants directory:
http://www.vic.gov.au/grants.html

Creative Partnerships Australia
https://www.creativepartnershipsaustralia.org.au

Office for the Community Sector:
http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/our-organisation/organisational-structure/our-groups/office-for-the-community-sector