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Spectrum 5.0

Spectrum 5.0

Spectrum is the UK collection management standard that is also used around the world. The latest version, Spectrum 5.0, was published in September 2017.

Spectrum gives tried-and-tested advice on the things most museums do when managing their collections. Some of these are daily activities, such as moving objects around and updating location records. Others are occasional, like updating insurance cover. Spectrum calls all these activities procedures and there are 21 of them.

Primary procedures

In Spectrum 5.0 there are nine primary procedures. These are the ones that most museums will use most of the time.

UK museums wanting to meet the requirements of the Accreditation scheme will have to demonstrate that they meet, or have a plan to achieve, the Spectrum standard for all nine.

  • Object entry – Logging all objects coming into your care for whatever reason, including loans, enquiries and potential acquisitions.
  • Acquisition and accessioning – Taking legal ownership of objects, especially (but not always) to add to your long-term collections through the process of accessioning: the formal commitment by your governing body to care for objects over the long term.
  • Location and movement control – Keeping a record of where all the objects in your care can be found, and updating the location each time an object is moved.
  • Inventory – Making sure you have the basic information to be accountable for the objects in your care, and tackling the backlog if you do not.
  • Cataloguing – Managing the information that gives your collections meaning, not as an end in itself but to record and retrieve what is known about your objects.
  • Object exit – Recording when objects leave the buildings you are responsible for and pass out of your direct care.
  • Loans in (borrowing objects) – Managing objects you borrow for a fixed period of time and for a specific purpose.
  • Loans out (lending objects) – Assessing requests for you to lend your objects and managing the lending process until loans are returned to you.
  • Documentation planning – Making your documentation systems better and enhancing the information they contain as an ongoing process of continual improvement.

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