Too Much Stuff? Disposal from Museums

27 October 2003

Too Much Stuff? Disposal from MuseumsToo Much Stuff?, published by the National Museum Directors' Conference on 27 October 2003, is intended as a contribution to the important, but often muted, debate on disposals from museum collections.

The paper, produced by an NMDC working group and approved by NMDC directors as a whole, asks difficult questions. How do museums justify retaining collections which are not well used or even well cared for? Is it really always wrong, as the current Museum Association Code of Ethics suggests, "to undertake disposal principally for financial reasons"? Is it always the case that the public interest is best served by retaining every object that has ever entered a museum within the public domain? Might not some objects provide more enjoyment to more people out of a store and in a collector's hands?

Members of NMDC recognise that the questions of acquisition and disposal of their collections go to the heart of what museums seek to, and are able to, provide. They also understand the importance of entering the debate on these issues while acknowledging both its complexities and current legal restraints. This document, produced by an NMDC sub-committee chaired by Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum is intended as a contribution to this debate.

Download the report