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Collection overviews are an incredibly useful starting point for anyone who wants to navigate the nation’s museum holdings. A good overview describes the scope and significance of a collection, noting strengths and highlights, in just a few paragraphs. In the archival world, such ‘finding aids’ are indispensable. The good news is that every one of the UK’s Accredited museums has already written such a summary, as part of its collection development policy. The bad news is that most are not easily accessible.

MDS wants to unlock this wealth of information. We’re asking every Accredited museum to share the ‘overview of current collections’ from its most recent collections development policy (with any relevant appendices), and also the ‘history of the collections’ section. You’ve done the hard part of writing them; it seems a shame for them to sit there unread rather than being useful to your fellow curators and researchers.

From February, with support from AHRC, we’ll be working with the University of Leicester and a team of research assistants to pull together collection overviews for every single Accredited museum. It will make our project funding go much further if, during January, you could use the upload form we’ve posted on the Collections Trust website to let us have your collections overview and collections history in advance. If there are appendices giving more detailed descriptions of your various collections, please include these.

All we ask is that you allow these bits of text to be used by us and others for non-commercial purposes and with due credit given to your museum.

MDS will publish all the collection overviews and histories in a searchable online database by summer 2024, and you will quickly wonder how you ever managed without them. Thank you in advance for sharing yours.

Send us your collection overview and history.

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