To ask the Minister for the Arts what initiatives are currently being developed in the area of museum collections management.
Museums and galleries are increasingly aware of the importance of developing clear policies of collections management which relate to their overall aims and resources. I am keen to encourage this. The museums database project, recently undertaken by the Museums Association, identified this as a key area where further research would be of practical help to museum managers.I have decided therefore to commission a study in conjunction with the Museums Association, to look at the wider resource implications of maintaining and managing museum collections. The study will examine, and attempt to quantify, factors such as display and storage space, curatorial and conservation costs, cataloguing and stocktaking costs and will emphasise the need for effective accountability for collections. The study will look also at the opportunities for improved public access to collections.I am particularly pleased that the initiative for such a study has come from museum professionals. The study will be undertaken by consultants experienced in the field of museums management and is expected to take nine to 12 months to complete. Information and advice will be gathered from a wide range of museum personnel and from a representative survey of institutions — national, local authority, university and independent. I am confident that the report will provide valuable information and practical guidance for all those responsible for efficient management and decision-making in museums and galleries.