By Kami Ahrens
Deaccessioning is a word that most of the public is either unfamiliar with or immediately conjures up ideas of back door dealings to bring in pay boosts for museum officials. However, deaccessioning is a very legitimate and necessary process. Deaccessioning can be defined as the process by which an object is permanently removed from a collection. However, it requires intense and detailed documentation and the actual removal of the object must be justified according to a strict set of criteria.
During class, we learned about how the IQSCM deaccessions objects and the circumstances surrounding the removal of certain artifacts. Here, quilts are evaluated on condition and uniqueness; they are generally deaccessioned if severely damaged or are duplicates.
We looked at several deaccession candidates that were beyond the museum’s ability to repair. Many of these damages were simply the result of inherent vices, such as unstable dyes or chemicals that caused the fabrics to decay. We helped complete the necessary paperwork on the artifacts and prepped them for removal.
Once deaccession candidates are approved by multiple officials at the museum, they are given to other museums, donated, or sold at public auction. Any funds gained from the sale of these specific artifacts goes towards bringing in new items that will better support the mission of the collection. Deaccessioning allows museums like IQSCM to manage the size of their collection and refine their goals as a public institution.
The International Quilt Study Center & Museum makes its academic home in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences.