Notes from the Board

September 13, 2017

Collections StewardShip Mission Statement Task Force

In May, the Registrars Committee of AAM (RC-AAM) officially changed to Collections Stewardship. This change was precipitated by a long discussion among many parties over many years, as the question of who RC-AAM represented kept springing up. Who was a registrar? For many, the name implied membership only for registrars. Those who identified with other titles felt as if they did not belong.

Along with the name change, Registrars Committee merged with the Art Handling, Collections Information, and Preparation Professional Network. This merger, coupled with name change, signifies a desire to reach out to a wider group of museum professionals, people who regularly work with collections but do not call themselves “registrars.” It is also an acknowledgement that the profession has evolved significantly since 1977 and encompasses a range of collections care professions. The Committee needs to acknowledge the contributions of many professional positions in order to further the mission of the CS, of AAM, and of our respective museums.

That announcement was approved by the AAM board and presented to the membership in St Louis at the AAM conference. When presented to the RC membership at the business luncheon, there were no objections. However, the work of the merger is not complete. Just as the name change was necessary, so is a review and change in mission. The original RC 1977 mission is still the mission of Collections Stewardship. That mission set to define the profession, a task that has been accomplished. The newly merged network must revisit the 1977 mission and consider it from many perspectives. We must be inclusive, we must honestly assess where our profession currently finds itself, and we must set sights for the future of the field.

A task force has been assembled to tackle this endeavor. This will not occur in a vacuum, as we will seek assistance from our colleagues and AAM. Before formal adoption, it will be shared with the CS membership for approval. We hope to have the new mission ready and available for distribution long before the 2018 annual conference in Phoenix.

If you have thoughts on the project, and care to make suggestions, please reach out to me, your Chair-elect. You can reach me at

We are excited to move forward with this, and to continue making Collections Stewardship work for all of us.

August 14, 2017

AAM 2018 Session Proposals

It is now August, and though AAM 2017 seems like it was only a few months ago, it is time to start planning for AAM 2018 (Phoenix). AAM has opened their portal for panel submission proposals, which can be found here:

AAM relies on the expertise of the field, and it is crucial to have collections-related panels every year. Even if you have just a basic idea, be sure to submit a proposal to solicit feedback, get others excited, and collaborate with colleagues who can assist. There are no bad proposals, so be sure to get something started.

Even if you do not feel like an expert on any topic, beginning conversations is the most important aspect at AAM. We are not always looking for answers, as examples and stories are just as important. How things went well, how they did not, where you succeeded, and where you failed. We all learn from your experiences, so be sure to share them.

The portal will remain open through 1 September, so please be sure to complete and submit your proposal by then. In the meantime, the Collections Stewardship Board will be happy to review proposals, so reach out to us to get feedback. If you need inspiration, next year’s theme is Educate, Engage, Elevate! America’s Museums on the Rise. Also, be sure to check the listserv, remember past discussions, or put to paper conversations you have had at your own institutions.

Phoenix 2018 may seem like a long ways away, but it will rush upon us sooner than expected. Let's generate some enthusiasm for seeing each other and working together. I am already excited to see all of you and hear the wisdom you can shine upon us.

Thank you.

Sebastian Encina
Collections Stewardship

July 20th, 2017

Greetings from the Board

Greetings on behalf of the newly re-named and re-organized Collections Stewardship Professional Network (formerly the Registrars Committee). As most of you know, at the 2017 AAM meeting, the Registrars Committee and the Art Handling, Collections Information, and Preparation Professional Network merged to become the Collections Stewardship Professional Network. By combining forces, we will be able to better address critical issues in collections management and collections care and promote the work of collections stewardship. We are all very excited to be leading this newly revised group, and look forward to using this space for Collections Stewardship board members to provide regular updates on the group’s plans and activities.

During the coming year, Collections Stewardship will be developing a new mission statement and goals in order to better promote registration and collections management with the American Alliance of Museums. For this, we are seeking input from the membership. What do you think are the most important issues and concerns that the group should address? What activities and initiatives would you like to see the group involved in? How can we as a group get our message out and get it heard? How can the board best serve its members?

One goal for the network is to find ways that we can work with similar organizations, particularly with the Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists (ARCS), to better advance the cause of collections care both in the United States and internationally. Thanks to Sebastian’s efforts on behalf of RC-AAM/Collections Stewardship, we already jointly administer a successful mentorship program with ARCS, and we will be looking for more opportunities to cooperate with other organizations in the future.

This is just the beginning, as we look at new initiatives and projects in order to promote the needs of collections staff. We will need your assistance and your ideas and voices as we move forward together.

Your board is eager and excited to serve in our capacity representing and working for you. We will be in communication on a regular basis, but please do reach out if you ever have any questions, complaints, or suggestions.

John E. Simmons, Chairperson
Sebastian Encina, Chairperson-elect
Amy Heggemeyer, Secretary
Lindsay Palaima, Secretary-elect

April 23, 2017

Announcing the Collections Stewardship Professional Network

The Registrars Committee of the American Association of Museums (RC-AAM) was established in 1977. Since that time, both the committee and the roles of registrars in museums have evolved considerably. Many other job titles have been created in the profession, including collections manager, collections specialist, preparator, and art handler. In addition, there were changes in the management of the professional networks when the American Association of Museums became the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in 2012, particularly opening membership in all of the professional networks to any individual AAM member without additional membership fees.

A series of discussions about the changes that have affected RC-AAM culminated in a roundtable discussion at the Marketplace of Ideas at the 2016 American Alliance of Museums meeting in Washington, D.C. The roundtable discussion included Mary Case, long recognized as a respected leader in the field. Ms. Case, who was present at the founding of the RC-AAM nearly forty years ago, pointed out that the original purpose of the organization was to help define the profession, a goal which was accomplished some time ago, and that RC-AAM was now addressing more comprehensive issues of collections care. As a result of these discussions, a task force was formed from both RC-AAM and Art Handling, Collections Information, and Preparation Professional Network members to further consider the topic. Based on a consensus of task force and RC-AAM board members, a decision was made to change the name of the group to more accurately reflect its members and purpose and thus transition to serving a broader museum community who advocate for collections stewardship. The merger and name change was approved by the AAM Board of Directors in March 2017. The Board thanked the leadership of the two networks for their thoughtful and collaborative decision-making and for their focus on how to best serve the members.

At the business meeting during the 2017 AAM Annual Meeting, RC-AAM will officially become Collections Stewardship, and merge with another group long allied with registrars, the Art Handling, Collections Information, and Preparation Network (which started as an RC-AAM task force in the 1990s and became its own professional network in 1997). By combining forces and adopting a new name, Collections Stewardship will be able to address critical issues of collections management and collections care, and work with other peer organizations, such as ARCS (Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists) and PACCIN (Preparation, Art Handling, Collections Care Information Network).

We've put together a FAQ to help answer questions you may have.