Statement of purpose:
We will use our collections and expertise to inspire and enlighten our users. This will be done by providing enjoyable museum experiences that reflect the stories and communities of Bolton and that contribute towards creating a strong and confident borough.
Bolton Library & Museum Services is part of the Development & Regeneration Department of Bolton Council. The service runs three museums, an archive, a local studies library, an aquarium, off site collections stores and cares for collections of objects, archives, books and live fish. This policy relates only to the acquisition and disposal of objects for the museum collections.
The archives, local studies library and aquarium all are subject to separate professional standards.
Bolton Museum is housed in the purpose-built Civic Centre, opened in stages between 1937 and 1947. Bolton Central Library is located on the ground floor with the upper floors designed as museum and art galleries. These replaced two Victorian buildings, the Chadwick Museum and Mere Hall Art Gallery, which both closed in 1938. The museum displays and stores collections of fine and decorative art, Egyptology, local history, archaeology and natural history plus Bolton Archives and Local Studies Library (known as the Bolton History Centre). Bolton Aquarium is housed in the basement.
Hall I’ th’ Wood is a historic house museum. Originally built as a half-timbered hall in the 16th century, it is famous for its association with Samuel Crompton, who invented his spinning mule while he was a tenant there in 1779. The hall was purchased for the people of Bolton by Lord Leverhulme in 1899 and officially opened as a public museum in 1902. The museum displays collections of 17th and 18th century English furniture and objects relating to Samuel Crompton and Lord Leverhulme.
Smithills Hall is a historic house museum. Construction of the building began in the 14th century with additions and alterations being made up until the 19th century. The earlier part of the house, which includes a medieval Great Hall, has been open to the public as a museum since 1963, and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The rest of the building is Grade I listed. The Victorian rooms were opened to the public in the early 1990s. On display are collections of 17th, 18th and 19th century English furniture and items from the fine and decorative art and natural history collections.
The Chadwick Resource Centre is a large museum collections store and research centre housing approximately 60,000 objects. The Chadwick was built in 2012 and is a pioneering example of sustainable collections care. The building has been designed to enable accessibility via bookable public visits, student and school visits, and a space for visiting researchers to be able to use our collections.
1. Existing Collections
Existing collections, including the subjects or themes and the periods of time and /or geographic areas to which the collections relate
In the following descriptions, collections are grouped together according to the intellectual rationale for collecting and interpreting them, rather than by types of object. This grouping is also reflected in the way information about the objects is recorded and stored. However, the physical objects are more likely to be grouped for storage and care according to their physical properties.
More detailed descriptions of the main collection areas can also be found on the museum website.
1.1. Fine Art
Paintings, Drawings and Prints
Bolton began to acquire art works from 1853 when the Council first established a combined library and museum. However, very few art works were collected before the establishment of a separate art gallery at Mere Hall in 1890. The Mere Hall displays consisted largely of 19th century landscapes, portraits and genre works. A handful of older works were also acquired, including Noah Leaving the Ark by Adam Colonia. From 1897 the Council began to buy a small number of works by contemporary British artists (often from the North West), usually from annual summer exhibitions of “modern painting” held at Mere Hall. This included significant Bolton artists including Fred Balshaw, Alfred Heaton Cooper and Samuel Towers.
In 1938, the collections of Mere Hall were transferred to Le Mans Crescent. Relatively few of these works now survive in the collection as many were disposed of in and before 1948 in order to create space for new works. The basis of this new collecting was a 1940 bequest of forty paintings, sculptures and drawings from Frank Hindley Smith, a Bolton mill owner who, guided by his friend Roger Fry, gathered an extensive personal collection of British and Continental art which on his death was divided amongst various art galleries including the Tate. The works left to Bolton had a regional bias, representing local artists such as Edward Stott as well as British artists of national importance such as Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and two works by Roger Fry himself.
After the war, the Bolton Library & Museum Committee sought advice from the director of the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool on how to expand the collection into one of regional significance. The recommendations were that Bolton should collect:
- British sculpture (see below)
- English watercolours
- British oil paintings – more recently this policy has been refined to concentrate upon British oil paintings, drawings and prints from after the Second World War.
- Portraits of local personalities, local topographical views and examples of the work of significant artists associated with Bolton.
Broadly following these guidelines, the collection has been built up by subsequent curators with the intention of creating a cultural resource for the education and enjoyment of the people of Bolton and now covers a range of styles and subjects. Artists of local, national and international significance are represented with very good examples by important painters such as J.M.W. Turner, Giordano, John Bratby, Edward Burra, Elizabeth Blackadder and Laura Knight.
The watercolours, prints and drawings now number over 2350, the majority of which are by British artists and date from the 19th Century, with the exception of a few good representative examples of watercolours by Italian, Dutch and French artists.
Within the art collection there are over 1000 prints, the majority of which are by 20th century British artists. Of particular importance is the Sycamore Collection which is broadly representative of British printmaking from 1900 to 1960 and provides an excellent resource for both reference and display.
Of specific importance is the work of Thomas Moran and his circle. The most significant oil paintings are Sunset, Pueblo del Walpe, Arizona; The Coast of Florida and Nearing Camp, Evening on the Upper Colorado River, Wyoming. Many examples of prints produced by Thomas Moran and his family have also been collected as a part of a specific and directed drive to acquire works by this important Bolton-born artist.
The sculpture collection consists of around 50 works, the majority of which are bronzes by mid-20th century British artists. Most of the works in this collection were collected from the 1950s to 1970s. Several internationally celebrated artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Jacob Epstein (who had particular connections to Bolton) are represented. This small but outstanding collection provides an extraordinary resource, allowing people from the local area to see and study sculpture by world renowned artists without having to travel to a national museum or gallery.
1.2. Decorative Art
The Decorative Art collection can be divided into five areas: ceramics, glass, metalwork, Japanese ware and work by Thomas Kershaw. Ceramics and glass were both collected from the museum’s inception in the late 1800s. Like the fine art collection, much of the decorative art collection has been collected with a view to providing a comprehensive educational and cultural resource showing the development of British ceramics and glass.
There are approximately 900 ceramic items, the majority of which are British pieces. In addition there are small groups of Chinese, Japanese, Indian and continental ceramics. The collection ranges in date from the medieval period to the present day and is generally representative of the full range of ceramic bodies. There is a small collection of 18th century pottery, which includes examples of English delftware, creamware, lead-glazed earthenware and salt-glazed stoneware. There is also a representative collection of 19th century Staffordshire figures (approximately 65 items). Particular strengths include Royal Lancastrian Pottery (particularly lustreware), Della Robbia Art Pottery and a collection of late 20th century ceramics (approximately 70 items), which includes works by most of the leading ceramicists working in Britain at that time. The Royal Lancastrian collection contains radioactive items.
There is a collection of approximately 180 glass items, ranging from the purely decorative to functional wares. The collection is largely 19th century in date, with a small collection of 18th century drinking glasses. Over the past three years, four contemporary British glass sculptures have been acquired including a commissioned piece by Amanda Notorianni, inspired by specimens in the Aquarium.
There is a small collection of metal items, which includes 85 electrotype reproductions of international art treasures acquired from the Victoria & Albert Museum in the 1870s.
The Edith Taylor bequest (1959) contains approximately 150 Japanese items, mainly 19th century inro, netsuke and scent bottles.
The Kershaw Collection
Bolton holds an important collection of decorative wood panels by local craftsman Thomas Kershaw, a internationally famous Victorian wood grainer and marbler. The collection consists of 20 decorative panels showing his ability to imitate a wide range of surfaces.
1.3. Local History
There are over 38,000 objects in the Local History collection, the majority of which are associated with Bolton. The objects range in date from 1600 to the mid- 20th century and relate to subjects including: domestic, work and civic life; religious and other groups; entertainment and relaxation; childhood; folk art; death; war; science and medicine; transport. Object types include: clothing; textiles; ephemera; photographs; maps and plans; paintings and prints; furniture; domestic objects; musical instruments; scientific instruments; tools and machinery; clocks and watches; coins, medals and tokens; building materials; domestic/commercial fixtures and fittings.
The most significant subject areas are outlined below.
This collection is based around 37 18th to 20th century textile machines, deposited at the museum by the Bolton textile machinery firm of Dobson & Barlow, and includes the only surviving example of a spinning mule made by its inventor Samuel Crompton of Bolton. Ten items of this early machinery relate to Richard Arkwright, who was strongly associated with Bolton. The collection also contains 20th century cotton processing machinery made or used in Bolton, including a Dobson & Barlow fine spinning mule which is the only known example to survive in the North West.
This collection of machinery is supplemented by 800 tools, parts catalogues, text books and instruments used in the local cotton, silk and man-made fibre industries and ancillary trades. In addition there are items relating to bleaching, finishing, dyeing, design, printing and sampling, including a large collection of bleachers’ bolt stamps and labels from Abraham Barlow Ltd. and Slater & Co Ltd.
The collection of locally manufactured textiles (mainly cotton) includes what is thought to be the earliest example of cotton spun and woven in Lancashire, dating from 1607. There is also an extensive collection of pattern books, which includes: 350 books from Joseph Johnson’s Ltd., dated 1912 to 1968; 136 pattern books from Tootal, Broadhurst & Lee, dating from the 1840s to 1963; the Peel Pattern Book from the calico printing works of Robert Peel (father of Sir Robert Peel), dating from 1807 to 1821. Each book contains an average of around 100 cloth samples. The textile collection also contains 120 examples of Bolton-made counterpanes, which include 16 hand-woven Caddow Quilts, the earliest dating from 1795. There is also a collection of around 1000 different raw cotton samples from Barlow & Jones Ltd. and a cop of 800 counts, the finest cotton yarn ever spun on a mule, from William Heatons Ltd. of Bolton.
The heavy industry collection includes items relating to Bolton’s engineering works, which developed alongside, and because of, the textile industry. The collection ranges from stationary steam engine models to a full-size mill engine of 1903 by J&E Woods of Bolton. The rest of the collection consists of tools, equipment, instruments and products of the local engineering industry. The museum acquired a collection of 122 tools, clothing and iron samples from T. Walmsleys’ Atlas Forge in Bolton, the last iron works in the world to manufacture wrought iron by the puddling process, before it closed in 1981.
This collection includes 15 working scale models of locomotives with Bolton connections, 39 Hick Hargreaves locomotive drawings and railway ephemera and objects. Larger items include a 4-wheeled dray, ‘the Extinguisher’. This collection also includes early bicycles, wheel-wrighting material and items relating to the use and care of horses.
Coal, Stone, Bricks and Tiles
This is a collection of locally-made bricks, tiles and terracotta. A small collection of early coalmining material has been acquired since 1974, mainly as a result of local open-cast mining exposing old workings. Only a few items relating to local quarrying are held in the collections.
Local Businesses and Industries
This collection includes the non-industrial such as carpentry, clog-making and skip or basket-making. The collection of a complete skip and basket-maker’s premises, tools, stock, archive etc. of almost 500 items is considered to be unique. There is a fairly comprehensive collection of local mineral water and beer bottles which contains over 300 individual examples from local companies, including nearly 50 local dairies.
This collection consists of over 4000 items of costume and accessories, the majority of which dates from after 1870, with some early 19th century material. Most of the items are late 19th and early 20th century middle to upper class women’s dress, worn for special occasions. There are a few items of middle class men’s clothing, including a collection of Borough Police uniforms and some local regimental uniforms. Examples of working class costume are very limited. There are also dress accessories, including parasols, shoes and hats.
Photographs, Postcards and Artwork
There are over 9000 photographs, mainly black and white, illustrating Bolton and outlying districts from 1860 to the present. In addition, there are 250 black and white glass plate negatives and positives, plus over 200 3¼ inch glass slides. Picture postcards, depicting local industries and sites, number around 300, dating from 1900 to the present. In addition the collections contain over 500 artworks in various media showing local scenes and people.
Hall i’ th’ Wood
Hall i’ th’ Wood is a half-timbered hall dating from the 15th century. It was once the home of Samuel Crompton, who invented his revolutionary spinning mule there in 1779. The house was purchased for the people of Bolton by Lord Leverhulme and was opened as a museum in 1902. Lord Leverhulme helped to finance the purchase of 17th and 18th century vernacular furniture and domestic items collected for display in the house, as well as that of a number of items relating to Samuel Crompton. The Hall i’ th’ Wood collection contains approximately 2500 items, including paintings (now part of the Fine Art collection), furniture, pewter ware, treen and fire irons.
The furniture collection was established primarily for display purposes at Hall i’ th’ Wood and Smithills Hall. It consists mainly of English oak furniture of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, many pieces of which are of North West manufacture. A small number of 19th century pieces, most with local associations, have also been acquired.
The service holds a collection of approximately 1000 items relating to the Worktown Project, carried out by members of the Mass Observation movement based in Bolton from 1937 to the mid-1940s. Works include paintings, watercolours, drawings, collages, prints and photographs by artists including Julian Trevelyan, Humphrey Jennings and Graham Bell. Of particular significance is the collection of photographs by Humphrey Spender, which has been developed through purchases from the photographer himself and others. It contains over 900 prints and negatives.
1.4. Egyptology, Archaeology & World Cultures
Bolton’s connection to Egypt dates back to the 1860s when local cotton manufacturers began to trade with cotton merchants in Alexandria. From 1884 the museum has acquired Egyptian artefacts through subscription to British excavations in Egypt. The ancient Egyptian collection consists of over 10,000 items, originating from 68 sites in the Nile Delta and Valley. These objects were found in funerary and domestic contexts and range in date from the Neolithic to the Roman/Christian periods. Excavators include many well-known names in British Egyptology, including Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie. Annie E.F. Barlow, Honorary Secretary of the Egypt Exploration Fund/Society in the area from 1887 to 1937, collected local subscriptions for the benefit of the museum as well as donating her own private collection. In more recent times Egyptian material has been transferred from the Wellcome Museum, the Petrie Museum and Tamworth Castle Museum. The Egyptology collection contains ancient mummified and skeletal human remains.
Ancient Near East
This collection includes material from British excavations in Palestine by Flinders Petrie between 1926 and 1938, as well as items from more recent excavations in Syria, Jordan Iraq and Iran. The private collection of John Rowland Ragdale, containing items from Iraq, was donated to the museum by the Stand Grammar School, Bury, in 1979. The Ancient Near Eastern collection contains cremated human remains.
This collection of Egyptian and Sudanese textiles consists of approximately 3500 items from excavations at sites throughout Egypt and Sudan. The collection is the third largest of its kind in the United Kingdom and has the widest range in date (c.5000 BC to the 19th century AD) and find spot. The first curator of the museum, William Midgley, began the scientific study of Egyptian textiles in Great Britain, which was continued by his son, Thomas Midgley, also a curator of the museum.
The collection contains: textiles and organic remains from excavations at Badari, Matmar and Mostagedda (including early Egyptian linen and matting); the representative study collection from excavations by Michegan University at Karanis; groups of textiles from British excavations at Antinoe, Armant, Tell el-Amarna, The Fayum, Hawara, Illahun (including a dozen Roman hats and hairnets), Napata/Sanam Abu Dom, Oxyrhynchus, Qau el-Kebir, Saqqara, Tanis and Tarkhan; miscellaneous material from the Petrie and Wellcome collections (largely unprovenanced) including animal mummies, shrouds and bandages. In 2007 the service acquired the Egypt Exploration Society study collection of textiles from Qasr Ibrim, comprising over 3000 objects from Roman/Meroitic to Ottoman dates. Most pieces in the archaeological textile collection are fragmentary, but correspondingly have a far more accurate find spot than their intact and purchased parallels. For this reason the collection remains a valuable resource for the study of early textile technology and design.
This collection consists of approximately 4000 items which have been acquired from British sites since the 1880s in order to provide an overview of British Archaeology. Particular strengths include: the contents of Silverdale Museum, collected by James Murton from mid 19th century excavations in Warwickshire, Kent and elsewhere; Neolithic, Bronze Age and Roman material from Derbyshire and other sites, including an important series of human artefacts from Derbyshire caves (the contents of the Castleton Museum, collected by J. Rooke Pennington); a series of flint tools from William Pengelley’s work at Kent’s Cavern, Devon (1865-1880); objects from the George Sandy collection of Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age flint tools. In addition, a relatively small number of local finds have been acquired since the late 19th century, including objects from excavations of local sites dating from the Mesolithic to the post-medieval period. The British Archaeology collection contains cremated and skeletal human remains.
This collection is made up of excavated material (approximately 1500 finds) and other objects (approximately 200 items) collected from around the world.
The archaeological material has been collected since the late 19th century. Of particular interest are the artefacts from Swiss lake dwellings at Lake Bienne and Lake Neuchatel excavated by Professor Fellenburg in the 1860s (part of the Rooke Pennington collection); Aztec material from 1881 excavations near Mexico City; Stone tools from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, India, the Pacific and Australasia; a Greek Attic black-figure ware lekythos by the painter of Oxford 245, and an Etruscan red-figure skyphos. The holdings of Pre-Columbian material are significant, and are built around the donation in 1903 of a group of objects by William Smithies (who also donated material to other museums in the North West), and augmented by purchase. The Pre-Columbian collection contains mummified human remains, including four complete mummies.
Other objects in the collection have been acquired since the 1850s and most originate from former British colonial territories in Africa, India, the Middle East and the Pacific, although there is some material from South America, China, Burma, Japan and parts of Europe. Many items were collected by local people or by those with local connections during their work or travels in these areas.
The Botany collection consists of approximately 60,000 specimens and is based on a core of collections acquired for learning purposes very early in the history of the museum. As a result it contains comprehensive collections of specimens from all over the UK and parts of Europe, including a large number of specimens from the Bolton area. The original collections, though large in terms of numbers of specimens, are represented by a very small number of individual accessions. Many eminent 19th century and 20th century botanical collectors are represented in the collections of Pierre Alfred Deseglise (1823-1883), Dr Philip Brookes Mason (1842-1903) and Rev. Herbert Mann Livens (1892-1946).
The Botany collection consists largely of dried specimens and can be broken down into the following categories:
This collection consists of approximately 6500 specimens. These are mostly marine British species, the majority originating from Dorset, Devon and Northumberland. In addition there are approximately 200 specimens compiled by Dr. Joseph Schiller from the Adriatic Sea. Historic British collections include those of Edward Morrell Holmes (1843-1930), John Ralfs (1807-1890) and Mary Wyatt (died c.1850).
This collection consists of over 9000 specimens, all of which are British. More than 1000 recently collected local specimens form a comprehensive reference collection. Historic collections include those of the Rev. Miles Joseph Berkeley (1803-1889), Mordecai Cubitt Cooke (1825-1914) and Rev. John Edward Vize (1831-1916).
This collection consists of approximately 8500 bryophytes, including around 2000 liverworts and over 6000 mosses. Most of the specimens are from the British Isles, with particular emphasis on Lancashire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. There are significant numbers of specimens from Ireland. The collection includes many type and cited specimens. A significant amount of local voucher material was collected in preparation for the publication of ‘The Flora of South Lancashire’ (as yet unpublished).
The most important local historic collections are those of James Sims (1836-1905), William Waller Midgley (1843-1925) and Thomas Midgley (1875-1953). The Dr. Philip Brookes Mason collection contains important British collections, including those of William Wilson (1799-1871), David McArdle (1849-1934), Benjamin Carrington (1827-1893) and William Henry Pearson (1849-1923). The Rev. Herbert Mann Livens collection contains the important British collections of Arthur Reginald Horwood (1879-1937), William West (1848-1914) and Albert Wilson (1862-1949).
This collection consists of approximately 6500 lichens, all of which are British. The collection contains small numbers of type and cited specimens. Historically the collection has contained no local specimens, probably due to the effects of heavy air-pollution in the area, but small numbers were collected in preparation for the publication of ‘The Flora of South Lancashire’ (as yet unpublished). Important historical collections include those of William Mudd (1830-1879), Rev. Herbert Mann Livens and Dr. Philip Brookes Mason.
This collection consists of approximately 35,000 vascular plants, including around 2000 overseas specimens. The collection contains significant material from most areas of the United Kingdom, with large numbers of specimens from the South Lancashire area. The most important local collections are those of Thomas Greenlees (1865-1949) and Prof. Brian William Fox (1929-1999). The Rubus (bramble) collection is particularly strong and contains many type specimens. There is a small but very important collection of 18th century specimens collected by Edward Jacob (1710-1788). Important historic collectors are represented in the collections of Pierre Alfred Deseglise, including Dr. Philipp Wilheim Wirtgen and Alexandre Boreau. Others are represented in the Dr Philip Brookes Mason (1842-1903) collection, including Charles Bailey (1838-1924), John Gilbert Baker (1834-1920), Willam Higgins Coleman (1816-1863), William Allport Leighton (1805-1889) and William Moyle Rogers (1835-1920).
The collection consists of approximately 600 items of worldwide origin relating to agricultural food crops, timber production and other items of economic importance.
There is a collection of approximately 60 botanical models, which date from the early 20th century to the present day. The models are regularly used for teaching and display.
There are approximately 50 volumes of illustrated botanical works, most of which date from the 19th century. These are often used in displays alongside herbarium specimens. There is also a collection of approximately 80 local floras, which are an essential research tool for the collections. These range in date from the 19th century to the present.
1.6. Vertebrate Zoology
The Vertebrate Zoology collection (birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles & fish) consists of 15,000 to 20,000 specimens, including bird and mammal skins and mounts, wet-preserved specimens, skeletal material (including human remains), bird eggs and casts. Specimens are of local and worldwide origin, and there is an extensive British collection built up by Alfred Hazlewood and Eric Gorton from the 1950s onwards.
This collection consists of over 2000 specimens, including skins, mounts, skeletons and wet-preserved specimens The skins are predominately of local origin, whereas the mounted mammals are largely non-local British specimens. There are approximately 60 overseas mounted specimens, the majority of which are of non-European origin. Skeletal material is represented by approx 700 items.
This collection consists of approximately 5000 skins, 2000 mounts and 275 skeletons. Approximately 200 of the mounts are cased and the majority of these are from the transfer of Natural History collections from Buile Hill Mining Museum in Salford in 1991. The skins include significant numbers of local voucher specimens, as well as a complete British reference collection with some accidental and rare vagrants. The mounted specimens are predominantly British in origin.
Reptiles & Amphibia
This collection consists of approximately 100 specimens of British and overseas origin. Most specimens are wet-preserved, although there are some skeletons and a small number of overseas specimens are mounted.
This collection consists of a small number of wet-preserved specimens, mounts and casts.
Bird Eggs & Nests
The collection of F.W.Peaples, consisting of 7,000 eggs and 200 nests, was purchased by J.P. Thomason in 1904 and presented to the museum. Peaples continued to add eggs to the museum collection until 1937. The collection was augmented by the transfer of Natural History collections from Buile Hill Mining Museum in 1991.
This collection consists of 2000 slides, the majority of which were originally produced to illustrate a series of Natural History lectures by Frank Lowe.
1.7. Invertebrate Zoology
The Invertebrate Zoology collection contains approximately 200,000 specimens. The majority of the collection is entomology, though there is also a substantial collection of molluscs. The material is predominantly British.
Lepidoptera (Butterflies & Moths)
This collection consists of nearly 30,000 specimens covering the majority of the British fauna plus 12,000 overseas specimens. A large number of micro-lepidoptera, possibly including type specimens, were acquired as part of the P.B. Mason collection.
This collection consists of approximately 70,000 specimens, including a number of type specimens and European examples. There are a small number of local Voucher specimens and about 3000 non-European overseas beetles.
This collection consists of approximately 25,000, predominately British, specimens. There are small numbers of overseas specimens of European and non-European origin. Local voucher material is limited and only a few families can be considered adequate as reference material. There are some type specimens.
Hymenoptera (Bees, Wasps, Ants, Sawflies)
This collection consists of approximately 8000 specimens. The Aculeates (bees, wasps and ants) are variably represented, although bees are more prominent, especially Bumblebees. There are few local voucher specimens. The Symphyta (Sawflies) are mainly British and form a reasonable reference collection. Local voucher material is negligible. The Parasitica are predominately European, comprising of approximately 2,000 specimens collected by Otto Schmiedeknecht.
This collection consists of approximately 10,000 specimens, mainly British in origin. There is little local voucher material, but it does contain type specimens. The collection contains a number of microscope slides and type specimens. The most important part of the collection is that of John Scott, which also contains material collected by J.W. Douglas and is still in the original 24 drawer cabinet. It was acquired as part of the P.B. Mason collection.
This collection consists of approximately 300 specimens, mainly British in origin, with a few local voucher specimens.
Odonata (Dragonflies), Trichoptera (Caddisflies), Plecoptera (Stoneflies), Ephemeroptera (Mayflies) & Megaloptera (Alderflies, Dobsonflies, Fishflies)
These collections consist of approximately 1300 specimens, almost all of which are British in origin. The collection includes adults and larvae, some preserved dry, others wet-preserved. There are significant numbers of local voucher material in the Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera.
This is a small order of insects and the collection consists of over 200 specimens of British origin, including significant numbers of local voucher specimens. Many of these specimens were taken from dead birds or bats.
Collembola (Springtails), Thysanoptera (Thrips), Psocoptera (Booklice), Thysanura (Silverfish), Diplura (Bristletails), Orthoptera (Grasshoppers & Crickets), Phasmida (Stick & Leaf Insects), Dictyoptera (Cockroaches), Dermaptera (Earwigs) and Isoptera (Termites)
These are small orders of invertebrates and the collections consist of around 200 specimens of mainly British origin. Local voucher material is negligible.
Other Invertebrates (excluding insects)
The majority of this collection consists of around 50,000 molluscs, including specimens from the Bolton area, a British reference collection and an overseas collection.
In addition, the collection contains a good collection of marine crustacea. There are also small numbers of marine Ascidea, Cephalochordata, Ctenophora, Echinodermata, Echiura, Hemichordata, Kinorhyncha, Phoronidea, Pogonophora, Priapulida and Sipuncula, with marine species of Annelida, Bryozoa, Cnidaria, Crustacea, Entoprocta, Gastrotrichia, Nematoda, Nemertea, Platyhelminthes, Protozoa, Rotifera, and Tardigrada.
The freshwater and terrestrial invertebrates are represented by a small collection of predominantly British material including Annelida, Arachnida, Bryozoa, Cnidaria, Crustacea, Entoprocta, Gastrotrichia, Myriapoda, Nematoda, Nemertea, Platyhelminthes, Protozoa, Rotifera, and Tardigrada.
This collection consists of approximately 700 specimens. All are British, although there are no local specimens.
There is a collection of approximately 100 display models. This includes series of models illustrating the life cycles of various organisms such as the mosquito and liver fluke. Most of these were purchased by commission from M. Longbottom in the early 20th century. A set of 12 spider models, commissioned in 1947, is of particular interest, and a set of Protozoa models by Schaffer of Manchester was acquired with the Mason collection.
Various pieces of documentation were acquired with the P.B. Mason collection, including the catalogue of the coleoptera collection prepared by Mason, a printed catalogue of beetles annotated by E.C. Rye, and several catalogues relating to the Scott Hemiptera collection. Two manuscript catalogues were acquired with the Edwards lepidoptera collection and another with the Chancy collection of Hemiptera.
The geology collection consists of around 20,000 specimens and was primarily formed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Further material was acquired from the 1950s to the 1980s.
This collection consists of approximately 15,000 specimens. The specimens are mainly British in origin and represent a wide range of geological horizons and localities, forming a reasonable reference collection. The bulk of the palaeontology probably came from Rooke Pennington’s Castleton Museum collection. The collection is strong on Coal Measures palaeobotany (fossilized plants), but lacks many of the animal fossils found in these horizons. There are small collections of national significance, including the George Vine collection of bryozoa (part of the Mason Collection), the Gault fossil collection acquired from John Starkie Gardner and cave material from Derbyshire (Creswell Crags, Castleton, Windy Knoll) acquired from Rooke Pennington. 15 type, figured and cited specimens have been identified so far.
This is a reference collection consisting of approximately 4000 specimens. Most of the specimens are British, although the collection is worldwide in scope. The collection was initially formed through acquiring material from collectors including Allen Holden, Caroline Birley and J. Frederick Neck. It doubled in size through purchases during the 1950s to 1980s. There are few local mineral specimens due to the scarcity of good localities in the Bolton area, but there is a relatively strong collection of material from Anglezarke Moor. There are 33 radioactive specimens and 16 asbestiform samples.
There are around 2000 specimens in this collection. As with the minerals this is a reference collection of worldwide origin. There is no clear collection illustrating the local geology. There is a representative collection of material from Puy de Dome, France. There is a reasonable building stones collection.
Slides and Thin Sections
The museum has a collection of approximately 1800 slides and thin sections. The most numerous and important of these are the palaeobotany specimens from the Lomax Palaeobotanical Company. This is the most important aspect of the geology collections.
The geology collection contains a number of models that were originally acquired for display purposes. Some of these have historic value, most notably the collection of prehistoric animal models made by Vernon Edwards. There are also good quality models made by the Natural History Museum, London, in the 1970s.
There are two casts of dinosaur fossils: a Tyrannosaurus skull acquired in 1968, which should be viewed as historically important (one of the first such acquisitions outside of a national museum), and a Tuojiangosaurus skeleton acquired in 2000 that has little historical or scientific significance.
The museum holds a series of plaster casts of tree fossils, transferred from Manchester Museum in 2008. These are figured local material from the 1830s.
There are approximately 300 books and journals relating to geology, ranging in date from the early 19th century to the present. Many important early monographs are present and in good condition.
2. Future Collecting Policy
When a new acquisition is proposed, a decision will be made by the Collections Management Team, based on information supplied by the relevant team member. The Collections Management Team will include as a minimum: Senior Manager: Collections, two Collections Access Officers and the Conservator.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will only collect items for which there is an identifiable potential use. All new acquisitions to be accessioned into the permanent collections must:
- be suitable for display and/or research and/or learning purposes
- fit into one of the key storylines of the Interpretation Policy (see Appendix A)
- meet the detailed collecting criteria for the relevant collection (see below)
Bolton Library & Museum Services may from time to time acquire, on a temporary basis, items which do not fit the departmental acquisition criteria. These items will not be accessioned into the permanent collections, but managed separately as assets and disposed of if/when no longer required (in the case of donations, it will be made clear to the donor that the service does not intend to retain the item in perpetuity).
Items may be acquired on this basis for the following uses:
1: Exhibition/Display Dressing
Objects may be acquired on a temporary basis for the purpose of dressing permanent displays, temporary exhibitions or historic room settings
2: Working Exhibits
Objects may be acquired for use as working exhibits or as consumable parts for such exhibits. They will be acquired on the understanding that they are expendable.
3: Education Handling Collection
Museum education staff maintain a collection of objects and replicas for use in museum-based education sessions. These are acquired on the understanding that they will undergo a certain amount of wear and tear and are therefore expendable.
N.B. There are some accessioned objects from the permanent collections in the education handling collection– these objects are managed in the same way as the rest of the permanent collections.
4: Community Outreach Collection
Museum outreach staff maintain a collection of objects and replicas for use in outreach sessions with community groups. These are acquired on the understanding that they will undergo a certain amount of wear and tear and are therefore expendable.
5: School Loans Service
The Museum & Archive Service maintains a collection of objects and replicas in themed boxes for loan to schools. These are acquired on the understanding that they will undergo a certain amount of wear and tear and are therefore expendable.
Criteria governing future acquisition policy including the subjects or themes, periods of time and/or geographic areas and any collections which will not be subject to further acquisition.
Active collecting: The service will actively seek out objects in these subject areas for acquisition. This may be by means of purchase if necessary.
Opportunistic collecting: If an opportunity to acquire arises, the acquisition will be considered. This may be by means of purchase if necessary.
Passive collecting: If appropriate material is offered as a donation or bequest, the acquisition will be considered.
Closed collections: No further additions will be made to closed collections.
2.1. Fine Art
The existing Fine Art collections represent a broad cross-section of British art. These works provide a context for the local/contemporary examples which the service would now like to add. Both are needed.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to develop its collection of fine art with a strong local connection. The service will consider acquiring paintings, prints or drawings by artists who were born, trained or practised in the Bolton borough area, including contemporary works which represent the diversity of today’s cultures and communities.
The service will seek to collect such works by commission (using either Bolton artists or national artists to produce work with links to museum collections), from temporary exhibitions staged at Bolton Museum, Aquarium & Archive (e.g. the Open Art Exhibition, Bolton Art Circle), and by developing links with Bolton University and its graduates. All such works must be of high artistic merit.
Paintings, prints and drawings that are associated with Bolton by their subject matter, such as works which depict the Bolton borough area or portray local people or events, will be acquired for the Social History collections.
The museum will seek to acquire, on an opportunistic basis, further works by Thomas Moran and other 19th century American artists associated with Bolton, in order to develop a collection which will illustrate the links between British and American landscape painting in the 19th century. Of particular interest are works by other members of the Moran family (Edward, John, Peter and Mary Nimmo Moran) and by Thomas Cole (born Bolton 1801,emigrated to USA 1818).
The service may consider British art works not associated with Bolton borough, if they are exceptional works with display potential. These should be either works that enhance or fill gaps in the excellent survey of British watercolours represented already in the collection or complement the collection of 20th Century British oil paintings and prints. Of particular interest are works by British surrealists and British romantic artists or contemporary works influenced by these movements.
Small scale sculptural works may be considered for acquisition if they meet the criteria outlined above. However, Bolton Library & Museum Services is no longer able to collect large sculptural works, due to a lack of space for storage and display.
Bolton Library & Museum Services does not have responsibility for the selection, commissioning or care of Bolton’s public art.
2.2. Decorative Art
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to develop its collection of decorative art with a strong local connection. The service will consider acquiring ceramics, glass and textiles by artists who were born, trained or practised in the Bolton borough area, including contemporary works which represent the diversity of today’s cultures and communities.
The service will seek to collect such works by commission (using either Bolton artists or national artists to produce work with links to museum collections), from temporary exhibitions staged at Bolton Museum, Aquarium & Archive (e.g. the Open Art Exhibition), and by developing links with Bolton University and its graduates. All such works must be of high artistic merit.
Ceramic, glass and textile items that are associated with Bolton by their subject matter, such as commemorative pieces, will be acquired for the Social History collections.
The museum will no longer acquire historic British ceramics or glass to illustrate a technique or style not already represented in the existing collections.
Although the service would consider the acquisition of additional material associated with Thomas Kershaw, examples of marbling or wood graining techniques by other artists will not be collected.
2.3. Local History
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to develop its Local History collections in order to be able to tell the stories of the people of Bolton past and present and of the events that have affected them. The service will seek to acquire items which have been manufactured in, used in or associated with the borough of Bolton between 1600 and the present day and which relate to one or more of the following spheres of life experience:
- birth and death
- marriage, family and domestic life
- work, business and technology
- health and medicine
- leisure and sport
- religion and belief
- civic and national life
- law, punishment and control
- childhood and education
Particular effort will be made to collect items dating from the 1950s to the present day that reflect post-industrial activity and migration to the borough and will help us to bring the story of Bolton up to date in our gallery displays.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to develop its Local History collections in order to be able to reflect the diversity of today’s communities and cultures in the Bolton borough area. The service will carry out a contemporary collecting project in order to acquire objects from unrepresented communities within the borough. Collecting will be carried out by staff and volunteers to an agreed collecting brief. Objects that fall into this category will also be acquired on a passive basis.
In order to develop a historically rich collection in which objects can be tied to specific individuals or events, objects will only be acquired if they have a strong provenance or context.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to acquire objects relating to the Worktown project carried out in Bolton by members of the Mass Observation Movement.
The service will passively acquire works of fine or decorative art that are associated with Bolton by their subject matter, such as works which depict the Bolton borough area, portray local people or commemorate local or national events which affected Bolton. The service will also consider the acquisition of local examples of commercial art and design.
Film, video and sound recordings will be collected only as contextual information for existing collections/new acquisitions or for display purposes. All other locally relevant material offered to the museum will be redirected to the North West Film or Sound Archive, which will provide a copy to the Local Studies Library.
The service may, in exceptional circumstances, acquire on a temporary basis, war memorials from within the Bolton borough area. The service will acquire these objects only in order to salvage them and would seek to re-house them in an appropriate setting at the earliest possible opportunity.
2.4. Egyptology, Archaeology & World Cultures
Egypt & the Near East
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to develop its Egyptian and Sudanese collections in order to be able to illustrate aspects of life and death in Egypt from prehistoric times to the present day. The service will seek to acquire items of material culture that reflect life in Pharaonic, Christian and Islamic Egypt. Particular effort will be made to collect a small number of representative items from the Islamic period that will help us to bring the story of Egypt up to date in our gallery displays.
The service will actively seek to acquire Egyptian statuary of the Pharaonic and Christian periods, an important element of Egyptian material culture which is under-represented in the existing collections.
The service will continue to subscribe to the Egypt Exploration Fund (subscription due for review in 2009) in order to receive new objects for the collections in forthcoming divisions of finds.
Other collecting in this subject area is likely to be opportunistic, based on the availability of relevant and legally acquired material. If such material appears on the market, the service will consider applying for external grants to fund the purchase.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will consider the transfer of whole collections from other organisations wishing to dispose of Egyptian material.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will collect objects from the ancient Near East (circa 4000BC to 1600 AD, from the Levant and Mesopotamia) in order to give historical context to the ancient Egyptian collections. As ethically acquired material from most of this area is currently unavailable, acquisitions are likely to be limited to items from the northern part of Sudan.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will consider a subscription to the Sudan Archaeological Research Society as a potential means of acquiring finds from excavations in the region.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will continue to collect Graeco-Roman, Christian and Islamic textiles from Egypt and Sudan, and will consider acquiring contemporary material.
The service will also passively acquire items from Egypt or the Near East which have a strong historical link to the Bolton Borough area, for example through the activities of an excavator or collector from the local area.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to acquire a small number of representative items that will serve to illustrate the Western interest in Ancient Egypt and the Near East which began in the 18th century. The service will make targeted acquisitions that will show how ‘Egyptomania’ has been reflected in the art and material culture of the western world from the 18th century to the present day.
The original purpose of the British Archaeology collection was to provide an overview of British Archaeology. The emphasis now will be to provide historical context to pre-industrial Bolton.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will passively acquire archaeological finds (pre-historic to 1600) from within the borough of Bolton.
The service will accept excavation archives from within the borough of Bolton only by prior arrangement and subject to a written agreement.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will passively collect objects relating to world cultures that can be used to illustrate the activities of people connected to the borough of Bolton area, for example local collectors or travellers.
The service will also collect material culture from Peru in order to develop the existing collection of textiles and pottery from the country, built around the Smithies Collection.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to develop its Botany collections in order to be able to illustrate environmental change over time in the Bolton borough area. This will be carried out when possible on an opportunistic basis and through a series of projects to record and collect specimens from specified sites within the borough. All plant groups will be collected, but particular effort will be made to collect lichens as these are particularly useful in reflecting environmental change.
For the last 30 years Bolton Library & Museum Services has also collected in the broader South Lancashire area of Wigan, Blackburn, Salford, Bury, Chorley and the West Pennine Moors. Passive collecting may continue in this area in consultation with the World Museum in Liverpool and The Manchester Museum.
The museum will also occasionally consider acquiring specimens collected outside the South Lancashire collecting area in cases where it can be demonstrated that the specimen will help us either to illustrate a locally occurring phenomenon or to give context to a wider botanical principal or process.
This will include economic botany specimens such as food products where items are known to be in use in the Bolton borough area.
The museum will consider acquiring collections that contain a significant number of specimens collected by people with a strong association with the Bolton borough area.
The museum will acquire models that can be used to interpret the Botany collections. These may be acquired passively or commissioned for a specific purpose.
2.6. Vertebrate Zoology
Bolton Library & Museum Services will not actively seek to develop its Vertebrate Zoology collections.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will collect Vertebrate Zoology specimens in the flesh, only by prior arrangement and in exceptional circumstances, e.g. a first record or rare specimen found within the Bolton borough area.
Bolton Library & Museum Services may passively acquire prepared vertebrate zoology specimens (ie. skins, mounts, skeletons) collected within the South Lancashire area (see Botany).
The museum will consider acquiring specimens collected outside the South Lancashire collecting area in cases where it can be demonstrated that the specimen will help us either to illustrate a locally occurring phenomenon or to give context to a wider zoological principal or process.
The museum will consider acquiring collections that contain a significant number of specimens collected by people with a strong association with the Bolton borough area.
The museum will acquire models that can be used to interpret the Vertebrate Zoology collections. These may be acquired passively or commissioned for a specific purpose.
In order to comply with the Wild Birds Protection Act 1954, Bolton Library & Museum Services will consider donations of bird eggs collected within the borough area and accompanied by reliable data, only in the following circumstances:
- where the donor can provide reliable written evidence that the eggs were collected before 1954
- where the donor has been granted a license to remove/possess the eggs by Natural England
2.7. Invertebrate Zoology
Bolton Library & Museum Services will actively seek to develop its Invertebrate Zoology collections in order to be able to illustrate environmental change over time in the Bolton borough area. The service will carry out a series of projects to record and collect specimens from specified sites within the borough. Collecting will be carried out by staff and volunteers to an agreed collecting brief. Particular effort will be made to collect micro-lepidoptera and Coleoptera. Specimens that fall into these groups will also be collected on an opportunistic basis.
Bolton Library & Museum Services Service will passively acquire invertebrate zoology specimens collected in the South Lancashire area (Bolton, Wigan, Blackburn, Salford, Bury, Chorley and the West Pennine Moors).
The museum will consider acquiring specimens collected outside the South Lancashire collecting area in cases where it can be demonstrated that the specimen will help us either to illustrate a locally occurring phenomenon or to give context to a wider zoological principal or process.
The museum will consider acquiring collections that contain a significant number of specimens collected by people with a strong association with the Bolton borough area.
The museum will acquire models that can be used to interpret the Invertebrate Zoology collections. These may be acquired passively or commissioned for a specific purpose.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will seek to develop its local palaeontological collection in order to be able to illustrate the flora and fauna that would have been present in Bolton’s geological past. The museum will acquire material from the South Lancashire Coalfield (bounded by Wigan to the West, the Pennines to the East, Warrington-Stockport to the South and Rochdale to the North) on an opportunistic basis. Particular effort will be made to collect arthropods and other animals, which are not well represented in the existing collections.
The museum will consider acquiring palaeontological specimens from outside the South Lancashire Coalfield, where the specimen is of display quality and can be used to illustrate the flora or fauna that would have been present in Bolton’s geological past.
Material relating to James Lomax and the Lomax Palaeobotanical Laboratory will be acquired where such opportunities arise.
The museum will collect mineral specimens from the Bolton borough area on an opportunistic basis. We will consider acquiring material from outside this area on a passive basis, where the material is of display quality and can be used to illustrate minerals that are present in the geology of Bolton.
The museum will not collect radioactive mineral specimens.
The museum will seek to develop a local petrological reference collection in order to be able to illustrate geological change over time in the Bolton borough area. Specimens will be collected on an opportunistic basis.
The museum will consider acquiring geological collections that contain a significant number of specimens collected by people with a strong association with the Bolton borough area.
The museum will acquire models that can be used to help interpret the Geology collections. These may be acquired passively or commissioned for a specific purpose. The museum will actively seek to acquire models or ephemera relating to Vernon Edwards.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will consider the transfer in of whole collections from other organisations wishing to dispose of geological material only if these have a Bolton connection.
3. Limitations on collecting
The museum recognises its responsibility, in acquiring additions to its collections, to ensure that care of collections, documentation arrangements and use of collections will meet the requirements of the Accreditation Standard. It will take into account limitations on collecting imposed by such factors as staffing, storage and care of collection arrangements.
When a new acquisition is considered by the Collections Management Team, the following factors will be taken into account:
Any costs associated with the initial acquisition of an object (e.g. purchase price, estimated auction price, transport costs, administration costs) must be identified at the proposal stage. Where a financial implication has been identified, a source of funding (e.g. museum acquisition budget, grant) must be named. If the costs are prohibitive or no funding source can be found, the acquisition will not proceed.
The storage requirements of an object (e.g. environmental conditions, space, packing materials, health & safety issues), including staff time and associated costs, must be identified at the proposal stage. Where these requirements cannot be met, due to the size or weight of an object and/or lack of space, funding or staff time, the acquisition will not proceed.
The immediate and long-term conservation needs of an object (e.g. remedial work, stabilization, freezing), including staff time, facilities and associated costs, must be identified at the proposal stage. Specialist advice may be sought from a conservator. Where these needs cannot be met, due to lack of funding, facilities or staff time, the acquisition will not proceed.
The documentation requirements of an object/group of objects, including staff time and associated costs, must be assessed at the proposal stage. Advice will be sought from the most senior museum professiona in Council service. If the staff time or funding to ensure that objects are documented to Accreditation standards is not available, the acquisition will not proceed.
4. Collecting policies of other museums
The museum 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.
Specific reference is made to the following museum(s):
Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston - 20th century British studio pottery
Gallery Oldham - 20th century British studio pottery
Manchester Museum - Egyptology, botany, geology
Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester - ancient textiles, textile art
World Museum, Liverpool - botany, invertebrate zoology
Bolton Library & Museum Services provides a limited object identification service. Finds from other areas offered as donations or sales will be redirected to the appropriate museum or the regional Finds Liaison Officer.
5. Policy review procedure
The Acquisition and Disposal Policy will be published and reviewed from time to time, at least once every five years. The date when this policy is next due for review is noted on the front page.
The Regional Arts Council 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.
6. Acquisitions not covered by the policy
Acquisitions outside the current stated policy will only be made in very exceptional circumstances, and then only after proper consideration by the governing body of the museum itself, having regard to the interests of other museums.
7. Acquisition Procedures
a. The museum will exercise due diligence and make every effort not to acquire, whether by purchase, gift, bequest or exchange, any object or specimen unless the governing body or responsible officer is satisfied that the museum can acquire a valid title to the item in question.
b. In particular, the museum 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).
c. 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, the museum will reject any items that have been illicitly traded. The governing body will be guided by the national guidance on the responsible acquisition of cultural property issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2005.
d. So far as biological and geological material is concerned, the museum 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.
e. The museum will not acquire archaeological antiquities (including excavated ceramics) in any case where the governing body or responsible officer has any suspicion that the circumstances of their recovery involved a failure to follow the appropriate legal procedures. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales the procedures include 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.
f. Any exceptions to the above clauses 8a, 8b, 8c, or 8e will only be because the museum is either:
- 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.
In these cases the museum will be open and transparent in the way it makes decisions and will act only with the express consent of an appropriate outside authority.
As the museum holds or intends to acquire human remains from any period, it will follow the procedures in the “Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums” issued by DCMS in 2005.
The museum 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.
9. The Repatriation and Restitution of objects and human remains
The museum’s governing body, acting on the advice of the museum’s professional staff, if any, may take a decision to return human remains (unless covered by the “Guidance for the care of human remains in museums” issued by DCMS in 2005) , objects or specimens to a country or people of origin. The museum will take such decisions on a case by case basis; within its legal position and taking into account all ethical implications and available guidance. This will mean that the procedures described in 12a-12d, 12g and 12s below will be followed but the remaining procedures are not appropriate.
The disposal of human remains from museums in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will follow the procedures in the “Guidance for the care of human remains in museums”.
10. Management of archives
As the museum holds archives, including photographs and printed ephemera, its governing body will be guided by the Code of Practice on Archives for Museums and Galleries in the United Kingdom (3rd ed., 2002).
11. Disposal procedures
All disposals undertaken by Bolton Library & Museum Services are governed by its Deaccession & Disposal Policy (see Appendix B)
a. The governing body will ensure that the disposal process is carried out openly and with transparency.
b. By definition, the museum has a long-term purpose and holds collections in trust for society in relation to its stated objectives. The governing body therefore accepts the principle that sound curatorial reasons for disposal must be established before consideration is given to the disposal of any items in the museum’s collection.
c. The museum will confirm that it is legally free to dispose of an item and agreements on disposal made with donors will be taken into account.
d. When disposal of a museum object is being considered, the museum 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 and a proportion of the proceeds if the item is disposed of by sale.
Motivation for disposal and method of disposal
e. When disposal is motivated by curatorial reasons the procedures outlined in paragraphs 12g-12s will be followed and the method of disposal may be by gift, sale or exchange.
f. In exceptional cases, the disposal may be motivated principally by financial reasons. The method of disposal will therefore be by sale and the procedures outlined below in paragraphs 12g-12m and 12s will be followed. In cases where disposal is motivated by financial reasons, the governing body will not undertake disposal unless it can be demonstrated that all the following exceptional circumstances are met in full:
- the disposal will significantly improve the long-term public benefit derived from the remaining collection,
- the disposal will not be undertaken to generate short-term revenue (for example to meet a budget deficit),
- the disposal will be undertaken as a last resort after other sources of funding have been thoroughly explored.
The disposal decision-making process
g. Whether the disposal is motivated either by curatorial or financial reasons, the decision to dispose of material from the collections will be taken by the governing body only after full consideration of the reasons for disposal. Other factors including the public benefit, the implications for the museum’s collections and collections held by museums and other organisations collecting the same material or in related fields will be considered. External expert advice will be obtained and the views of stakeholders such as donors, researchers, local and source communities and others served by the museum will also be considered.
Responsibility for disposal decision-making
h. 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 or for reasons of health and safety), will be the responsibility of the governing body of the museum acting on the advice of professional curatorial staff, if any, and not of the collections access officer responsible for the collection acting alone.
Use of proceeds of sale
i. Any monies received by the museum governing body from the disposal of items will be applied for the benefit of the collections. This normally means the purchase of further acquisitions. In exceptional cases, improvements relating to the care of collections in order to meet or exceed Accreditation requirements relating to the risk of damage to and deterioration of the collections may be justifiable. Any monies received in compensation for the damage, loss or destruction of items will be applied in the same way. Advice on those cases where the monies are intended to be used for the care of collections will be sought from Arts Council England
j. The proceeds of a sale will be ring-fenced so it can be demonstrated that they are spent in a manner compatible with the requirements of the Accreditation standard.
Disposal by gift or sale
k. 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 or sale, directly to other Accredited Museums likely to be interested in its acquisition.
l. If the material is not acquired by any Accredited Museums to which it was offered directly as a gift or for sale, 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 on-line facility, and in other specialist journals where appropriate.
m. The announcement relating to gift or sale 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 giving priority to organisations in the public domain.
n. The museum will not dispose of items by exchange.
o. 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.
Bolton Museum Interpretation Policy key storylines
- How have the lives of people in Bolton changed, with special reference to domestic life, working life and use of leisure time.
- Who makes up today’s Bolton community and how has this changed?
- How have relationships between people in Bolton changed, with special reference to class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion and age.
- How do the people of Bolton see themselves and how do others see them?
- How and why has Bolton’s economy changed and what legacies has this left?
- How is Bolton’s history reflected in the built environment?
- How has the geography in and around Bolton changed over time (on both a geological and human time scale). How has local geography both shaped and been affected by human activity? How is the environment continuing to change?
- What flora and fauna can be found in the Bolton area? How have these changed over time and why? How do these examples compare with those found in other environments found elsewhere and why?
- How have people’s attitudes changed to their environment (both natural and built) and their place within it?
- What artistic works have been produced by artists with a connection to Bolton?
- What art work reflects the experience of being brought up and/or living in Bolton both now and in the past?
- What art and other collections were gathered by local collectors (including the council) over the previous 150 years. Why did they collect such material and what does this say about their aspirations for themselves and Bolton?
- How were the lives of ancient people, particularly from Egypt, both similar and very different to our own and what insight does this offer in understanding ourselves?
Deaccession & Disposal Policy
The Deaccession & Disposal policy applies to all museum objects in the care of Bolton Library & Museum Services. The policy relates to the management of disposal (the transfer, sale or destruction of objects) and of deaccession (the formal approval and documentation of the disposal).
Bolton Library & Museum Services also cares for collections of Archive and Local Studies material. These are guided by distinct professional guidelines and subject to separate policies.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will not undertake disposal on an ad hoc basis, but as part of an active Collections Strategy.
All disposals will be made in line with the Museum Association’s Code of Ethics and the Arts Council England Accreditation Scheme.
Every disposal will demonstrate long-term public benefit.
A) Reasons for proposing a disposal
Bolton Library & Museum Services will normally consider disposing of objects under the following circumstances:
- Where an object’s condition is so poor that it is no longer identifiable and/or usable
- Where an object poses an unavoidable Health & Safety risk to staff or visitors
- Where an object poses an unavoidable threat to other objects in the collections
- Where a request for destructive testing has been made (see also Research Policy)
- Where a request for repatriation or restitution has been made* (see also Human Remains Policy)
- Where an object has no discernible potential use within the service
- Where an object is duplicated within the collections
- Where an object would receive a better standard of care, be more publicly accessible or be more effectively used elsewhere.
- In exceptional circumstances where it is necessary to raise significant capital for a project dedicated to the long term care of museum collections
*The Council, acting on the advice of the museum’s professional staff, may take a decision to return human remains, objects or specimens to a country or people of origin. The museum will take such decisions on a case by case basis, within its legal position and taking into account all ethical implications.
B) Proposing a disposal
The following members of staff may propose objects for disposal from the collections:
- Team Leader – Museum Services Development
- Collection Access Officers
- Documentation Assistants
Prior to any decision to dispose, all possible sources of information in the service will be checked by a designated officer.
Sources that should be checked are:
- The object and physically associated information
- Enquiry forms
- Entry forms
- Accession registers
- Day books
- Purchase registers
- Catalogue cards/print-outs
- MODES accession records
- TMS object records
- Correspondence files
- Object history files
- Artist files
- Subject files
- Conservation records
- Exhibition catalogues
- Grant applications
- Loan In files
- Loan Out files
- Exit forms
- Former members of staff
C) Legal status & title
The above sources of information will be used to establish the object’s museum status and the holder of legal title.
Possible scenarios are as follows:
1: Accessioned objects
- Accessioned objects to which Bolton Council holds legal title, e.g. objects in the permanent collections
2: Unaccessioned objects
- Unaccessioned objects to which Bolton Council holds legal title, e.g. objects that were collected, but not added to the permanent collections
- Unaccessioned objects to which another organisation/individual holds legal title, e.g. ‘permanent’ Loans In, uncollected deposited objects
- Unaccessioned object to which the title holder is unknown, e.g. uncollected deposited objects that have become separated from their documentation
3: Objects of unknown status, e.g. objects which cannot be linked to any documentation and may or may not be accessioned
Bolton Library & Museum Services will seek to return to their rightful owner (or their legal heirs) objects to which another organisation or individual is found to hold legal title, according to the Loans In Policy (Loans In) or the Entry Policy (deposited objects).
The service will establish if an object to which it holds title was purchased, conserved or displayed with the aid of an external funding organisation. In such cases, the grant-giving organisation will be consulted. If the conditions are not negotiable, either the disposal will not be pursued or the conditions will be followed, including repayment of the original grant.
The service will establish if an object to which it holds title was a gift, bequest, exchange or transfer to which conditions which may prevent its disposal were attached. In such cases the donor, bequeather or originating organisation will, where possible, be consulted. If consultation is not possible or the conditions are not negotiable, the disposal will not be pursued.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will not attempt to dispose of any object if it is not legally free to do so. Where the legal position is unclear, the service will seek advice from Bolton Council’s Legal Service.
The legal position on the following types of items will be fully investigated before any disposal is undertaken:
- Items covered by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
- Drugs and pharmacological items
- Radioactive objects
- Hazardous items covered by COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health)
- Items containing asbestos
- Firearms and other militaria
- Human remains (see Human Remains Policy)
D) Recommendation to Dispose
An initial recommendation (or a final decision for unaccessioned objects) will be made by members of Bolton Library & Museum Services Collections Management Team, to consist of a minimum of:
- Team Leader – Museum, Archives & Local Studies
- At least two Collections Access Officers
The Collections Management Team will assess the proposed disposal against a set of criteria relating to the object’s:
- inherent significance
- relevance to Bolton Library & Museum Services
- support for key services
- potential use
- context and provenance
- demands on resources
- relevance to other organisations
The disposal will be assessed with reference to Bolton Library & Museum Service’s Interpretation Policy, Disposal Policy and the Museum Association’s Code of Ethics.
Where the relevant expertise is not available in-house, Bolton Library & Museum Services will seek expert advice from a person with specialist knowledge of the relevant subject area prior to making a recommendation.
Accessioned objects that have been recommended for disposal will be scrutinised by the Service’s governing body in the following stages:
- In cases where there may be an element of controversy about the proposed disposal, a report may first go to the relevant Bolton Council Policy Development Group. This group, made up of a political cross section of Elected Members, can comment and make recommendations to Officers and the Executive Member, but make no binding decisions.
- In all cases a report will be submitted to the relevant Bolton Council Department Director and Executive Member. The Bolton Council system ensures that all such reports will also be read by Elected Member representatives of the other political groups. These representatives are free to comment on the recommendations. Acting on advice from the Director, the Executive Member will give a formal decision on whether to approve the proposed disposals. N.B. Because under the cabinet system Executive Members have delegated powers to act on behalf of the Council Executive, the Lead Member’s approval will be taken as final approval to dispose. This system retains the safeguard of seeking governing body approval as required by Accreditation, while allowing for a more efficient deaccession process.
- All Executive Member decisions are subsequently scrutinised by Adult Services Scrutiny Committee and then the full Council Executive. Because it is possible for these decisions to be ‘called in’ (i.e critically reviewed) it is good practice to wait until the formal ‘calling in’ period has passed before carrying out any action that would be irreversible.
Unaccessioned objects will not be referred to the Executive Member for formal approval, but their disposal will be no less strictly managed and documented. Updates on disposals of unaccessioned material will be passed to the appropriate Executive Member for information.
As with accessioned material, occasional reports regarding unaccessioned material may be sent to the relevant Bolton Council Policy Development Group for consideration where this is thought appropriate and useful, but this would not normally be the case.
F) Method of disposal
The service will first consider internal disposal, i.e. transfer to museum handling collections or to the School Loans Service, for duplicate mass-produced articles or common specimens which lack significant provenance.
The prime considerations for the method of external disposal will be:
- the maintenance of public access to the object
- an acceptable level of care
The preferred method of external disposal (other than for objects to be destroyed) is therefore transfer to another organisation in the public domain. Preference for transfer will be given to Accredited/Registered museums in the UK.
In descending order of preference, the options for disposal are:
- to an Accredited/Registered Museum in the UK (or to originating country/community in cases of repatriation/restitution)
- to another type of public organisation, e.g. museums, heritage centres, zoological gardens, science centres, archaeological trusts
- to a private organisation that provides a degree of public access
- to a school or other educational organisation for handling or demonstration use
- to the original donor (if still living)
The MA discourages the sale of objects between museums as damaging to a long tradition of museum co-operation in the UK.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will in no circumstances send objects to another organisation without prior agreement in writing from the recipient.
- by auction to a private organisation or individual
- for scrap
Sale of any objects will normally only be considered only after all possible avenues of transfer within the public domain have been investigated.
The only time sale will be considered as the first option will be in the exceptional case where there is an urgent requirement to raise capital funds for a vital collection care project and no other funding option has been secured (see Policy section A, point IX).
In such exceptional cases only objects purchased outright by Bolton Council will be considered for sale. For ethical and financial reasons objects acquired by donation, bequest or purchased using grant funding will not be considered in cases where sale is required as a first option.
In such circumstances it will be a requirement of the Service and the Council to consider the choice of such objects in relation to the broader collection, as summarised in the Acquisition and Disposal Policy. Formal curatorial advice will be taken in making such decisions.
Any monies received by Bolton Council from the disposal of objects in any circumstances will only be applied for the benefit of the collections. This will normally mean the purchase of new acquisitions, but in exceptional cases, improvements relating to the care of collections may be justifiable. Advice on these cases will be sought from MLA.
In the case of extremely low value items, where there is little or no expectation of raising income, an alternative option at this stage may be an anonymous gift to a charity shop. In such cases, preference will be given to national or international charities concerned with causes related to human welfare.
If it is not possible to dispose of the object through transfer or sale, Bolton Library & Museum Services may decide to destroy it.
Destruction is an acceptable method of disposal in cases where an object is in extremely poor condition, has high associated H&S risks, or is part of an approved destructive testing request (see Research Policy).
Where necessary, Bolton Library & Museum Services will take specialist advice to establish the appropriate method of destruction. Health & Safety Risk Assessments will be carried out by trained staff where required.
The destruction of objects will be witnessed by a member of the Collections Team.
G) Disposal Process
Living donors (but not their relations or descendants) will be informed of the disposal of any objects donated to Bolton Library & Museum Services within the last 10 years.
Any active users of the object or collection will be informed of the intent to dispose and the proposed recipient.
Bolton Library & Museum Services will transfer any rights associated with the disposed object (e.g. copyright) which are held by the service to the new owner.
In the case of transfer within the public domain, the object number will not be removed from the object prior to disposal, as this forms part of the object’s history.
The object will officially cease to be a part of the collection at the time when the transfer of title documentation is signed or the object is destroyed.
The object and the disposal process will be fully documented.
In the case of transfer, copies of all existing documentation (including the TMS object record) will be supplied to the transferee.
Prior to despatch all objects will be photographed and a full condition report will be completed.
The despatch of the object will be carried out in line with the Exit policy.
In the case of deaccessioned objects, the accession register will be annotated, including a reference to the Council Executive minute which approved the disposal.
All existing documentation relating to a disposed object will be retained.
Full details of the disposal will be added to the TMS object record which will also be retained.
H) Data Protection Act 1998
It is necessary for name and address data to be recorded in the catalogue record as part of the contract between the individual and the museum. Access to personal information about living individuals held on the TMS system will be restricted. The processing of personal data will comply with the principles of the Data Protection Act.