Notes from the Chair


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).

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