The current Development Plan for Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales (the Museum) identifies three core areas and themes of activity in which it will engage, namely ‘Collections’, ‘Ownership’ and ‘Museums’. The underlying theme of ‘Ownership’ is that the Museum is a body that holds, develops and interprets collections that actually belong to the people of Wales. This obligation was placed on the Museum when it was created by Royal Charter in 1907, and in order for it to carry out better these functions it was made a registered charity. One of the main tasks of the Trustees of the charity and their staff, accordingly, is to ensure that the collections that the Museum holds in trust on behalf of the Welsh people are properly looked after. They also have a duty of accountability to the Museum’s prime funder, the Welsh Assembly Government.

Our Trustees are helped in this task by the fact that in line with all the other museums accredited in the UK by MLA: the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, and in Wales by CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, the Museum is required to have in place formal policies for the management of the collections. Such policies should spell out how an institution will deal with the acquisition of items for its collection, and disposal when that is necessary; documentation, verification, and care of the collections; and access to and loans from the collections. These policies are designed to ensure that best practice is followed throughout the institution, and that every other body and individual with whom we deal is aware of our standards and our expectations of them. The relevant legislation, standards statements and other literature which we have consulted and where relevant adopted in drawing up these policies are listed in the bibliography at the end of this introduction.

We first formally adopted Policies for Collections Management in 1995. These were reviewed again in 2000 and updated substantially by the members of our in-house Collections Management Group. The Policies were ratified by Trustees in October 2005 and are thus formal statements of policy. They will next be revised at regular intervals. These Policies are supported by detailed internal procedures which ensure standardised implementation across all our sites and subject areas. What we collect (rather than how we go about it, which is included in the appended Policy on Acquisition and Disposal) is subject to separate strategies, which may vary over time. Our institutional aims include being the best possible repository for the collections of national renown and importance held in care for Wales and we are very conscious of that responsibility.

As an institution, we are acutely aware that the 4 million items and more currently in the collections represent the major three-dimensional educational resource of and for the Welsh nation, the contents of which should be made available to all. To provide properly mediated access to more and more of these collections and the knowledge contained in them is one of our high aspirations in the spirit of life-long learning and social inclusion, fundamental principles since our foundation.

We would welcome comment on the contents of these Policies, and any requests for further information should in the first instance be addressed to myself at the Museum.

John Williams-Daveis
Director – Collections & Research
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales,
National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP