Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village
Policy & Procedure Memorandum No. 25a
3/2001

Preservation Policy

The distinctive character of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village derives, to a large extent, from its collection of authentic historic materials. The ethical stewardship of these collections carries with it the presumption of "appropriate care and reasonable utilization." (Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village Statement of Ethics)

Historical Resources meets these ethical standards and furthers the institutional mission of providing "unique educational experiences based on authentic objects, stories and lives" by preserving the authentic historical materials of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village.

The collections of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village defined as objects, buildings, photographs, books, manuscripts, moving images, and recordings, are the primary tools and resources for providing authentic, effective historical experiences. These collections are cared for in a manner that conforms to established professional practices (including standards developed by the AAM Accreditation Board, AIC Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, Secretary of the Interior's Standards and the APT/AIC New Orleans Charter) and is appropriate for each type of artifact. The goal of preservation activities is to preserve the authenticity, original fabric, structure and function of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village's authentic historical materials. The care of collections includes oversight of the following: daily care, operation & handling, exhibition, conservation & restoration, environmental control, security, condition surveys, documentation, artifact movement, inventory control and storage. These are described in more detail below.

Artifact Ranking

Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village uses artifact ranking (ranking artifacts from 1 to 4) to identify the historical significance, rarity, value and/or significance of individual items in the collection. The artifact's rank serves as a guide for treatment, storage, documentation, operation, handling and management of the particular artifact. Criteria and procedures for artifact ranking are discussed in the Historical Resources Collection Procedures Guide.

Daily Care

Preservation Management staff will provide appropriate daily care to collections based on standards set by the Conservation staff. Only Collections Care, Conservation, Historic Operating Machinery, Railroad Operations and other staff members who have been trained by Preservation Management staff are authorized to clean, maintain, or provide daily care to collection items. Historic structures receive periodic maintenance from appropriate staff, based upon standards set in conjunction with Preservation Management leadership staff. Proper daily care ensures that the authenticity, original fabric, structure and function of collection items remain intact and are not damaged by inappropriate cleaning methods or materials.

Operation & Handling

It may be decided to demonstrate, handle or operate some collection artifacts as part of a program. The decision to use artifacts in this manner must be balanced against the need for preservation, since they are, in the strictest sense, mutually incompatible. The operation and handling of collections for programmatic purposes is guided by the Artifact Handling Guidelines. Artifact ranking, which is designated by a curator, serves as a guide to artifact use. Most use artifacts are designated rank 3 or 4. The identification of appropriate artifacts for hands-on or operation activities will be determined by the appropriate curator and informed by the appropriate conservator or the chief mechanical officer for the railroad. An initial recommendation to operate a ranked 1 or 2 artifact must be made by the Collections Operations Team and brought to a vote of the Collections Committee. The Collections Operations Team will also make a recommendation on the number of times that an artifact may be operated in a given period of time. After initial approval by the Collections Committee, subsequent requests can be approved or rejected by the appropriate curator and/or Collection Operations Team. Only trained authorized staff members may operate functioning rank 1 or 2 collection items. The appropriate Preservation Management staff member will coordinate staff training. Abuse of artifacts or inappropriate operation by staff members must be brought to the attention of the appropriate program leader. Repeated abuse of artifacts by visitors should be brought to the attention of the Collections Operations Team, who will determine the appropriateness of the item for hands-on use by visitors.

Exhibition and Access

Exhibition and access should incorporate features that reflect the security and environmental needs of collection items. Artifact ranking should provide guidance for exhibition display standards. In general, rank 1 and 2 collection items will be displayed following the highest museum standards. Preservation Management staff will set appropriate standards for access and display of collection items.

Conservation & Restoration

The preservation policy of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village is to conserve rather than restore and to maintain a balance between the need to both use authentic objects in programs and the desire to preserve them. Whenever possible the original fabric of an artifact will be preserved intact. Decisions concerning the appropriate level of conservation and/or restoration will be made by the appropriate curator/archivist and informed by the appropriate conservator or the railroad chief mechanical officer. The ranking system will be used as a guide in determining extent of treatment. The conservation, restoration or maintenance of artifacts will be carried out either by professional conservators, railroad managers or by authorized individuals under their direction.

Environmental Control

Specifications for the upgrade and maintenance of climate control in collection storage display areas and historic structures will be set by the chief collection manager/head of collections resources working in conjunction with the director of facilities. Climate control includes the establishment and maintenance of temperature, humidity, ventilation, filtration and light levels that will minimize damage to collections. Institutional pest control procedures and the management of conditions that support pest infestations are part of the environmental control responsibilities.

Security

The chief collection manager/head of collections resources will work together with Security and other museum staff to identify and resolve issues regarding the security and protection of the collections.

Condition Surveys

Condition surveys of collections are used to gather data that is needed to evaluate treatment priorities and storage requirements, and to advise on accession/deaccession activities. Representative sample surveys will be conducted for large collections or (in the case of archival collections) they may be integrated into the ongoing archival functions.

Documentation

An established computerized and/or photographic process will document all artifact locations, physical treatments, or changes to the physical condition of an artifact, as well as condition assessments. Examination reports, treatment reports, maintenance reports and location inventories of artifacts and reproductions will be maintained to inform future activities and (in the case of operating machinery) to provide official documentation for safety inspections.

Movement of Artifacts

Collection artifacts may only be moved with the authorization of the collections manager.

Inventory Control & Storage

Collection storage is maintained by Preservation Management and Collection Resources staff to ensure security, accessibility, accurate inventory, cleanliness, appropriate climate, and pest control. The use of appropriate storage materials and housing methods will minimize damage to collections. All storage materials will be assessed through appropriate materials testing and analysis.

*The Director of Historical Resources, Vice President of Program and Marketing or the President of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village can authorize exceptions to the above policy.

Approved : ___Signature on File _______
Date: ___March 9, 2001 ____
3/1/01

Guidelines

Management Guidelines for Ranked Collections Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village
  Storage Documentation Treatment Handing and Operation
Rank 1 Every effort will be made to store artifacts in an environmentally controlled and secured area Complete curatorial and conservation documentation, research and photographic records will be maintained
  • Original materials will be preserved
  • Treatment carried out or strictly supervised by conservator
  • Stable materials and reversible treatments will be employed
  • Formal exhibition only.
  • Requests to use or operate must be brought to collection committee for approval
  • Must be handled and moved by historical resources staff with approval of collection manager
Rank 2 Reasonable effort will be made to store artifacts in an environmentally controlled and secured area Complete curatorial and conservation documentation, research and photographic records will be maintained
  • Original materials will be preserved
  • Treatment carried our by strictly supervised by conservator
  • Stable materials and reversible treatments will be employed
  • Formal exhibition only.
  • Requests to use or operate must be brought to collection operations team for approval
  • Must be handled and moved by historical resources staff with approval of collection manager
Rank 3 Reasonable effort will be made to store artifacts in a secure area out of direct access of the public Documentation, research and photographic records will be maintained. Complete maintenance records of all modifications and repairs will be kept.
  • Conservation or Restoration treatment will be carried out under the guidance of a conservator.
  • Original materials will be preserved whenever possible
  • May be used for exhibits and/or interpreted operational use by properly trained staff.
  • May be handled by trained Historical Resources staff or other authorized program staff
  • Moves within a program site may be carried out by trained program staff
  • Moves beyond the authorized program areas must be coordinated by Collections manager
Rank 4 Reasonable effort will be made to store the artifacts in a careful manner that will not accelerate deterioration unduly. Minimal artifact record will be created. Minimal documentation, research and photographic records of modifications and repairs will be maintained at the discretion of the use team.
  • Conservation or Restoration treatment will be carried out under the guidance of a conservator or appropriate historical resources staff
  • Maintenance programs will be carried out under the direction of a conservator or appropriate Historical resources staff
  • Original materials will be preserved, when practical or appropriate
  • May be used for exhibits and/or interpreted operational use by adequately trained staff.
  • May be used for supervised hands-on activities with visitors
  • May be handled by trained Historical Resources staff or other authorized program staff
  • Moves within a program site may be carried out by trained program staff
  • Moves beyond the authorized program areas must be coordinated by Collections manager

Appendix 2. Collections Ranking & Registered Objects

The distinctive character of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village derives, to a large extent, from its collections of authentic historic materials. The ethical stewardship of these collections carries with it the presumption of appropriate care and reasonable utilization. --Statement of Ethics

Since 1993, Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village has used artifact ranking (ranking artifacts from 1 to 4) to identify the historical significance, rarity, value, and/or significance of individual items in the collection. This rank then serves as a guide for treatment, handling and management of the particular artifact.

Ranking Procedures:

Curators rank the collections for which they are responsible.

Rank is based on the artifact's significance, rarity, value and scarcity in this, or other, collections.

Each rank (1-4) includes guidelines for treatment, storage, documentation, handling and operation.

Dialog between conservators, curators and program developers regarding intended treatment, handling and operation of artifacts is expected.

All new acquisitions are ranked.

All artifacts requested for conservation treatment should be ranked.

All artifacts processed for documentation projects should be ranked.

Criteria for Ranking Artifacts:
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Nationally or internationally significant Significant historical value Historical value Historical value
Few, if any duplicates in this or other collections Few similar examples in this or other collections Similar examples are held in this or other collections Common in this or other collections
Rare, likely irreplaceable Uncommon and difficult to replace Moderately difficult to replace Can be easily replaced
And/or of high monetary value      
Example – Old 16, Lincoln Chair Example – Fordson Tractor Production Model 1 Example – Morgan Mower at Firestone Farm Example – Enamelware at Firestone Farm

Registered Objects:

Registered objects are purposely manufactured reproductions or facsimiles of historical items, or new and readily available materials acquired for a specific program use (operation or display) in which a historical artifact would be put at risk. An artifact that was originally historic, but which now contains a large number of new parts, could be considered a registered object.

Registered objects are physically numbered and tracked similar to collection objects, distinguished by an "R" in front of the object number. A simple ARGUS record is created for each R object.

Tracking reproductions helps ensure there is a record of where it was bought or made for replacement and is a tool to manage inventories.

Registered objects must have approval from a curator and a program leader before being added to public exhibits or programs.

Collection funds do not support the acquisition or maintenance of registered objects.

Maintenance of registered objects is the responsibility of the purchasing unit or Preservation Management (or Operations) based on agreement prior to purchase.

Disposition of non-accessioned registered objects is the responsibility of the purchasing unit and is treated as any other case involving the disposal of institutional assets. Registrars or the "Registered Object Tracker" should be notified to record disposition.


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