Scarborough Museums Trust cares for and manages the collections of Scarborough Borough. As Accredited venues we are required to write and publish an Acquistions and Disposal Policy. For more information about Accreditation visit the Arts Council England website here.
Board of Trustees of Scarborough Museums Trust
Date approved by governing body
Date at which policy due for review
December 2012 - Currently under review
1.1 From 1January 2008 Scarborough Museums Trust will manage the Rotunda Museum, Scarborough Art Gallery and the Borough Council’s Collection. The Collection is owned by the Council. Scarborough Museums Trust will acquire new material on behalf of Scarborough Borough Council.
1.2 The word “Museum” and the words “the Trust” are used throughout this document to mean Scarborough Museums Trust.
1.3 Acquisition is defined as the transfer of ownership of an item to the permanent collection, its management and documentation. Disposal is defined as the permanent physical removal of accessioned material from the permanent collection, for example by planned destruction, outright gift, transfer, exchange or sale to another institution.
1.4 In addition to the primary purpose of assisting the Council and Scarborough Museums Trust to fulfil their responsibilities, the Policy is also intended to meet the requirements of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council’s Accreditation Scheme and to be a public document as required.
1.5 Scarborough Museums Trust’s aim is to make the Collection as accessible as possible, by means of display, research and access through the Rotunda Museum, the Art Gallery and Scarborough Collections at Woodend (education and research facilities). Furthermore, Scarborough Museums Trust aims to increase remote access by electronic means or through the broadcasting and publishing industries, through loans and touring exhibitions and by enquiry services (letter, telephone and email).
1.6 Scarborough Borough Council made an in principle decision in July 2007 to the redevelopment of the Art Gallery in order to provide display space for the full range of its non-geological collections. It is likely therefore that a major redevelopment commences during the period of this policy.
1.7 This policy replaces the Scarborough Museums and Gallery Acquisition and Disposal Policy approved by Scarborough Borough Council in 1998.
2. Existing collections, including the subjects or themes for collecting
2.1 Scarborough’s collections are in general of regional importance but certain parts of the collection are of national and international importance. Amongst the more important collections are artefacts from the Star Carr excavations, one of the earliest known sites of human habitation.
2.2 The Museums Service in Scarborough dates from the opening of the Rotunda Museum in 1829. The Rotunda is one of the finest examples of an early purpose built museum and its elegant tiers of mahogany display cases form, perhaps the finest small museum interior in the country. The Rotunda began life as the private museum of the Scarborough Philosophical Society. The museum’s collection was declared inalienable in the 1830s and this secured the permanency of the Society’s collections which included geology, mineralogy, zoology, entomology, conchology, coins, antiquities, books, ethnology and art. The Society’s collections continued to expand during the 19th century, particularly the archaeology, bygones and art collections. The nature of the material collected was dictated by the interests of individual members. The current Collection is divided as follows:
2.3 The Art Collections
There are about 1,500 works in the art collection, principally oil paintings (200) and works on paper (including watercolours, prints and drawings) with a few pieces of sculpture (less than 10) and a small group of Filey ware ceramics, a group of clocks and some pieces of furniture (donated by Tom Laughton).
Overall the collection is of important local significance and includes subjects in the town and area by local artists from the 18th century to the early part of the 20th century. Good examples of these artists would be: H B Carter (1803-1868), John Wilson Carmichael (1800-1868), Ernest Dade (1865-1935) and Paul Marny (1829-1914).
The Printmakers Council Archive (116 works) was donated in 1992.There is a large and important collection of railway posters (though not as comprehensive as the National Railway Museum’s holdings), a collection of 147 works on paper by Frank Brangwyn and over 60 works by Carter.
2.4 The Archaeology Collections
The archaeology collections represent two centuries of digging and include material of national importance as well as some very attractive small finds with strong local provenance. At present all acquisitions are from digs carried out by archaeological companies before development or from the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society. An exception is the material from Tim Schadla-Hall’s digs in the Vale of Pickering and Star Carr.
The collection is particularly strong in the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods with large amounts of flint material but also important bone and vegetable artefacts. The Bronze Age is well represented with collections of pottery, complete pots, small finds and bone material, both human and animal. The most important collection from this period is the Gristhorpe Man collection consisting of a complete skeleton, the lid and parts of the base of an oak trunk coffin and a number of grave goods.
Scarborough has a modest Roman collection, the most important being the Romano British cemetery from Norton (discovered in the 1960s it numbers about 28 skeletons and grave goods).
The artefacts excavated by F. Gerald Simpson at Scarborough Castle during the 1920s are also deposited with Scarborough Museums. The papers of F. Gerald Simpson and his daughter Grace Simpson pertaining to the Scarborough digs were acquired in 2005.
Scarborough’s Medieval past is well represented with collections of material from Scarborough Castle, Ayton Castle and medieval streets in the town.
Numismatics and Ethnography have traditionally sat under archaeology at Scarborough and continue to do so. These collections are comparatively small and reflect the interests of former curators. They are of mixed quality and have not been added to or re-evaluated for many years.
2.5 The Natural History Collections
The natural history collections comprise mounted and study collections of bird and mammal skins, birds’ eggs, shells, herbaria and insects. The Brown and Walsh insect collections are important examples of 19th and early 20th century natural history collecting. The William Bean collection of molluscs is an important natural history collection of the Regency period. All three have strong local provenance and have a role to play in the history of the Borough.
2.6 The Geology Collections
The geology collection contains about 8000 specimens and can be divided into palaeontological material and mineralogy. The palaeontology collection includes 80 Type or Figured specimens of international importance; other highlights include Middle Jurassic plants and dinosaur footprints, Upper Jurassic marine material and collections from the chalk. The Speeton plesiosaur is perhaps the single most important specimen. The mineral collection contains some very good display specimens. The majority of the geology collections date back to the earliest days of the Scarborough Philosophical Society and as such are of historical importance, although unfortunately this is tempered by the lack of accompanying data for much of the collection.
2.7 The Social and Local History Collections
The social and local history collection is fairly typical of a small provincial museum service. It includes all forms of photographic media, ephemera and books as well as costume, domestic material and working life.
The collection of Tunny (Blue Fin Tuna) fishing material, much of it from the British Tunny Club, is an important contribution to the history of rod and line fishing in Britain.
The Clarke charm collection comprises some 500 items from all over the world and covering all forms of charm. The Clarke collection has yet to be fully researched.
The ephemera and photographic collections are essentially local but include tourist guides dating back to the late 18th century that have a bearing on the history of tourism and travel.
Scarborough is credited with being the first English seaside resort and key items that demonstrate this have been collected including a late 19th century Scarborough Jockey cart and a bathing machine.
3. Loan Boxes and Handling Collections
3.1 Following advice in the MLA’s 2002 publication Guidelines for Handling Collections in Museums, Galleries and Children's Centres it is the policy of Scarborough Museums Trust to give access to as wide a range of items from the accessioned collection to as many people as possible. It does not therefore maintain separate collections for loan out nor for handling but allows the use of items from the core collections in its loan boxes, freelance sessions, adult and children’s events and other learning activities, following rigorous object-based risk assessment.
3.2 Scarborough Museums Trust will exercise due care and diligence in choosing for handling items that are robust and able to withstand handling and items that are not of such rarity or financial value that their loss would pose a serious threat to the integrity of the Borough’s collections and to Scarborough Museum Trust’s good name. All accessioned items selected for handling will be subject to a recorded risk assessment and will be properly safeguarded with instructions to participants, provision of protective clothing where appropriate and trained staff.
4. Criteria governing future collecting policy, including the subjects or themes for collecting
4.1 The Art Collections
We aim to build upon the existing sub-regionally important fine art collection whilst creating new areas for collection, specifically in contemporary art. All future acquisitions depend on the resolution of current storage issues, particularly during the redevelopment of the Art Gallery.
Acquisitions should enhance the collection and fill gaps rather than duplicate existing artists unless the work is of special significance.
Plans for purchase may include:
- Early 20th century British oil painting, in order to create dialogue with the paintings by Ivon Hitchens and Matthew Smith.
- Early 20th century British works on paper.
- Topographical views of Scarborough and the Borough from the last four hundred years should continue to be acquired if the quality of the work is considered significant.
- Works of exceptional quality and significance by H B Carter and Atkinson Grimshaw.
- The creation of a contemporary art collection may include the following:
- The acquisition of works by professional artists living in Scarborough region and/or images of Scarborough (to enhance the existing disparate group of works).
- The acquisition of contemporary prints would add to the Printmakers Council Collection.
4.2 The Archaeology Collections
Scarborough Museums Trust will continue to collect material excavated within the existing (2007) boundaries of the Borough of Scarborough provided that the conditions laid down in its ‘Archaeological Depositions Procedure’ have been met.
Single items or small groups will be acquired by purchase, gift or transfer where the item(s) is/are of local provenance. This would include items of Scarborough and Falsgrave Ware, small finds offered for sale through the Treasure Act, items that become available through the salerooms.
Coins, tokens and medals will only be acquired if they have been excavated within the Borough of Scarborough or if they have a strong local provenance and complement existing collections.
Larger depositions, those not originating from within the Borough of Scarborough and those requiring specialist conditions not available at Scarborough Museums Trust, will be directed to an appropriate Accredited museum.
Scarborough Museums Trust reserves the right to charge a deposition fee where applicable.
Scarborough Museums Trust reserves the right to refuse all archaeological depositions if storage facilities become over stretched within the review period of this policy.
4.3 The Natural History Collections
In view of the current absence of a specialist curator further material will not be accepted as a general rule unless it is appropriately prepared, housed and documented with full provenance, and complements existing collections rather than duplicating them. Efforts will be made to establish access to appropriate expertise through volunteers and Scarborough Field Naturalists Society.
4.4 The Geology Collections
The collecting area will continue to be the Borough of Scarborough (2007 boundaries) but material that fits into the geological timescale of the collections (in particular Jurassic and Cretaceous material) from outside the Borough may be considered if it benefits the collection. Material that contributes to the role of Scarborough in the history of geology may also be considered especially material relating to members of the Scarborough Philosophical Society. Material will only be collected if resources are available to support it.
The reopening of the Rotunda Museum is likely to prompt offers of new material for the collections. Other possible acquisitions include the dinosaur footprint collection from Sheffield University and a private collection of local marine reptile material.
The lack of data for existing collections will be addressed through a programme of replacing unprovenanced material with specimens that have good quality associated data to improve the scientific relevance of the collection.
Any large scale acquisitions will require careful consideration and the identification of supporting resources before a decision is made to accept. If Scarborough Museums Trust is unable to accept an offered collection staff will work with the donor to identify an alternative Accredited museum or recognised scientific institution.
Future geology acquisitions could, where appropriate, be considered jointly with suitable institutions, in particular, Whitby Museum, York Museums Trust and the Natural History Museum.
4.5 The Social and Local History Collections
The focus of collecting over the next five years will be the following collections:
The Tunny collection where the emphasis will be on acquiring material that amplifies the role of local fishermen in the sport of Tunny fishing and working with existing local organizations.
The seaside collection where the emphasis will be on acquiring souvenirs e.g. silly hats, rude monks, climbing monkeys etc., clothing and tools used in related trades e.g. ice cream sellers, ‘Hispaniola’ pirates, cinema usherettes etc., photographs of interiors of shops, cafes, theatres, hotels, boarding houses etc.
The Corporation collection where the emphasis will be on collecting material relevant to the history of the town, the Corporation and the Borough. The focus will be amenities provided by the town for visitors and residents, examples include the parks, amusements such as crazy golf, sports events, cafes, entertainments (open air theatre, Rose Queen parades, Pancake Day skipping etc.), the people who created and ran them and the people who took part.
Generic social history material eg. food tins, mass produced household objects, mass produced tools etc, will only be acquired where they fill a gap in existing collections and preference will always be given to material with a local provenance.
5. Period of time and/or geographical area to which collecting relates
5.1 The Art Collections
5.2 The Archaeology Collections
Scarborough Museums Trust will collect archaeological material from within the current (2007) boundaries of the Borough of Scarborough. Exceptions to this policy are those listed at 2.2 above.
5.3 The Natural History Collections
The regional collecting area for natural history shall remain North East Yorkshire.
5.4 The Geology Collections
5.5 The Social and Local History Collections
There are no limitations on the time span of the social and local history but as existing collections do not extend further back than the 17th century Scarborough Museums Trust does not anticipate collecting earlier material unless it forms part of the archaeological record of the area.
Collecting will be bounded by the current (2007) geographical boundaries of the Borough of Scarborough except where an item is a rare survival and there is evidence that similar items were used/sold/made in Scarborough, or if the item in question is costume where preference will be given to good quality items that complement the existing collections or support chosen themes e.g. bathing costumes, a ‘Dolly Varden’ or child’s sailor suit.
6. Limitations on collecting
6.1 Scarborough Museums Trust recognises its responsibility, in acquiring additions to Scarborough Borough Council’s Collection, to ensure that care of collections, documentation arrangements and use of collections will meet the requirements of the Accreditation Standard. Scarborough Museums Trust will take into account limitations on collecting imposed by such factors as inadequate staffing, storage and care of collection arrangements.
7. Collecting policies of other museums
7.1 Scarborough Museums Trust will take account of the collecting policies of other museums and other organisations collecting in the same or related areas or subject fields. It will consult with these organisations where conflicts of interest may arise or to define areas of specialisms, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication and waste of resources.
7.2 Specific reference is made to the following museum(s):
- York Museums Trust
- Whitby Museum
- Filey Museum
- Malton Museum
- Sewerby Hall Museum & Art Gallery
8. Policy review procedure
8.1 The Acquisition and Disposal Policy will be published and reviewed from time to time, at least once every five years. The date when the policy is next due for review is noted above.
8.2 MLA Yorkshire will be notified of any changes to the Acquisition and Disposal Policy, and the implications of any such changes for the future of existing collections.
9. Acquisitions not covered by the policy
9.1 Acquisitions outside the current stated policy will only be made in very exceptional circumstances, and then only after proper consideration by Scarborough Museums Trust having regard to the interests of other museums.
10. Acquisition procedures
10.1. Scarborough Museums Trust will exercise due diligence and make every effort not to acquire, whether by purchase, gift, bequest or exchange, any object or specimen unless they or the responsible officer is satisfied that the Trust can acquire for Scarborough Borough Council a valid title to the item in question.
10.2. In particular, Scarborough Museums Trust will not acquire any object or specimen unless it is satisfied that the object or specimen has not been acquired in, or exported from, its country of origin (or any intermediate country in which it may have been legally owned) in violation of that country’s laws. (For the purposes of this paragraph `country of origin’ includes the United Kingdom).
10.3. In accordance with the provisions of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which the UK ratified with effect from November 1 2002, and the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003,Scarborough Museums Trust will reject any items that have been illicitly traded. Scarborough Museums Trust will be guided by the national guidance on the responsible acquisition of cultural property issued by DCMS in 2005.
10.4. So far as biological and geological material is concerned, Scarborough Museums Trust will not acquire by any direct or indirect means any specimen that has been collected, sold or otherwise transferred in contravention of any national or international wildlife protection or natural history conservation law or treaty of the United Kingdom or any other country, except with the express consent of an appropriate outside authority.
10.5. Scarborough Museums Trust will not acquire archaeological antiquities (including excavated ceramics) in any case where they or the responsible officer has any suspicion that the circumstances of their recovery involved a failure to follow the appropriate legal procedures, such as reporting finds to the landowner or occupier of the land and to the proper authorities in the case of possible treasure as defined by the Treasure Act 1996 (in England, Northern Ireland and Wales) or reporting finds through the Treasure Trove procedure (in Scotland).
10.6. Any exceptions to the above clauses 10.1 to 10.5 will only be because Scarborough Museums Trust is either:
10.7 In these cases the Trust will be open and transparent in the way it makes decisions and
- acting as an externally approved repository of last resort for material of local (UK) origin; or
- acquiring an item of minor importance that lacks secure ownership history but in the best judgement of experts in the field concerned has not been illicitly traded; or
- acting with the permission of authorities with the requisite jurisdiction in the country of origin; or
- in possession of reliable documentary evidence that the item was exported from its country of origin before 1970.
will act only with the express consent of an appropriate outside authority.
Scarborough Museums Trust will use the statement of principles ‘Spoliation of Works of Art during the Nazi, Holocaust and World War II period’, issued for non-national museums in 1999 by the Museums and Galleries Commission.
12. Repatriation and Restitution
The Board of Trustees of Scarborough Museums Trust’s, acting on the advice of its professional staff, may recommend a decision to be taken by the Council to return human remains, objects or specimens to a country or people of origin. The Council will take such decisions on a case by case basis, within their legal position and taking into account all ethical implications.
13. Management of archives
As the Borough’s museum collection includes archives, photographs and printed ephemera, Scarborough Museums Trust and Scarborough Borough Council will be guided by the Code of Practice on Archives for Museums and Galleries in the United Kingdom (3rd ed., 2002).
14. Disposal procedures
14.1 By definition, a museum has a long-term purpose and should possess (or intend to acquire) permanent collections in relation to its stated objectives. Scarborough Museums Trust and Scarborough Borough Council accept the principle that, except for sound curatorial reasons, there is a strong presumption against the disposal of any items in the museum’s collection.
14.2. Scarborough Museums Trust will establish that it is legally free to dispose of an item. Any decision to dispose of material from the collections will be taken only after due consideration.
14.3. When disposal of a museum object is being considered, Scarborough Museums Trust will establish if it was acquired with the aid of an external funding organisation. In such cases, any conditions attached to the original grant will be followed. This may include repayment of the original grant.
14.4. Decisions to dispose of items will not be made with the principal aim of generating funds.
14.5. Any monies received by the Trust from the disposal of items will be applied for the benefit of the collections. This normally means the purchase of further acquisitions but in exceptional cases improvements relating to the care of collections may be justifiable. Advice on these cases will be sought from MLA.
14.6. A decision to dispose of a specimen or object, whether by gift, exchange, sale or destruction (in the case of an item too badly damaged or deteriorated to be of any use for the purposes of the collections), will be the responsibility of the Council acting on the recommendation of the Board of Trustees of Scarborough Museums Trust having taken advice from professional curatorial staff, and not of the curator of the collection acting alone.
14.7. Once a decision to dispose of material in the collection has been taken, priority will be given to retaining it within the public domain, unless it is to be destroyed. It will therefore be offered in the first instance, by gift, exchange or sale, directly to other Accredited Museums likely to be interested in its acquisition.
14.8. If the material is not acquired by any Accredited Museums to which it was offered directly, then the museum community at large will be advised of the intention to dispose of the material, normally through an announcement in the Museums Association’s Museums Journal, and in other professional journals where appropriate.
14.9. The announcement will indicate the number and nature of specimens or objects involved, and the basis on which the material will be transferred to another institution. Preference will be given to expressions of interest from other Accredited Museums. A period of at least two months will be allowed for an interest in acquiring the material to be expressed. At the end of this period, if no expressions of interest have been received, the museum may consider disposing of the material to other interested individuals and organisations.
14.10. Full records will be kept of all decisions on disposals and the items involved and proper arrangements made for the preservation and/or transfer, as appropriate, of the documentation relating to the items concerned, including photographic records where practicable in accordance with SPECTRUM Procedure on deaccession and disposal.