Managing Art Collections

Module code: MU7005

Module co-ordinator: Dr Stacy Boldrick and Prof Simon Knell

Central to the art museum is the collection. This forms the focus of this module where we look at both the processes used to control art objects and their associated data, and at techniques used to ensure the art objects’ safekeeping. The module begins by considering the loss of art: iconoclasm, ephemeral artistic practices and materials, object decay and deterioration, and inappropriate professional interventions.

The module is concerned with the ‘health and safety’ of collections. This includes planning for collections management from acquisition to disposal, and including storage and loans, and object documentation. We look at those agents of loss that put art objects at risk: inappropriate levels of humidity, light, UV and temperature, a failure to control pests or polluting materials, ineffective security and disaster planning, and poor handling, packing and transport. In all of these areas we look at how you can detect damage, monitor conditions and mitigate problems.

This module incorporates practical and hands-on elements as well as lectures and online materials that deal with the science and logic of collections management.

Topics covered

  • Losing art
  • Conditions for art
  • Moving art
  • Art documentation


  • 25 hours of lectures
  • 22 hours of practicals and workshops
  • 8 hours of study visits


  • 2000 word, or equivalent, assignment. The style of assignment is different for each module and includes essays, critical reviews, art journalism, reports, portfolios, oral examinations and so on.