Worthing Museum & Art Gallery

Acquisitions and Disposal Policy

The Museum has a policy that governs what we collect and what we don't.

Adopted by Worthing Borough Council 15 December 1983
(Revised July 1987, September 1992, January 1997, September 1999, November 2002, September 2003, September 2005)

Mission Statement

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery aims to inspire interest, enjoyment, and understanding of the collections it holds in trust for past, present and future generations. 

It will collect, research, interpret, conserve, exhibit and make accessible the collections which represent and signify the history of Worthing and the surrounding area to the professional standards set out by the Museums, Libraries, and Archives Council.

Service Aims

  1. Stewardship: To enhance, manage and maintain our collections, buildings and displays to the highest standards of collection care required in an Accredited Museum and to give particular regard to the care and development of the Costume and Textile collections.
  2. Legislation: To ensure that the museum operates within the spirit and letter of current legislation with regards to all aspects of its general operation, collections care and management, and particularly that the health and safety of all staff and visitors is considered at all times.
  3. Resources: To maximise our use of resources and revenue generation in order to improve financial sustainability and deliver the museum’s objectives without damaging the integrity of its collections or its principal function as a local and regional museum and art gallery.
  4. Business Excellence: To modernise our services and organisation and to develop our staff and volunteers to their full potential.
  5. Education and Lifelong Learning: To provide a lively and varied programme of temporary exhibitions and to develop innovative and exciting educational programmes which will appeal to the widest audience.
  6. Interpretation: To upgrade long-term displays on a rolling programme, as far as resources allow and taking new acquisitions into consideration, to ensure that the museum continues to operate as an attraction to visitors.
  7. Audience Development: To market the museum as widely and effectively as possible and to attract visitors from a wide age range and socio-economic background and to be more easily accessible by all.
  8. Access: To improve physical and intellectual accessibility of the museum’s collections for the local and the wider community by physical, sensory, and/or ICT improvements.
  9. Community Development: To use the resources of the collections to promote the development of the visual arts within the local community and raise its profile with a wider audience.

 1 Preamble

1.1 Worthing Borough Council, as the Museum Authority, adopts the following Acquisitions and Disposal Policy, which it will publish and review at least every five years and in response to legislative changes. The Policy will next need to be revised in 2010. The Regional Agency, South East Museums Libraries Archives and Council (SEMLAC), 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.

1.2 Acquisitions outside the stated Policy will only be made in very exceptional circumstances and then only after proper consideration by the Council, having regard to the interests of other museums.

1.3 The Council will seek to conduct its Acquisitions Policy in harmony with neighbouring authorities and other museums, e.g. by publishing the Policy and co-operating with the appropriate professional bodies. Specific reference is made to the following museums:
Brighton and Hove, Chichester, Littlehampton and Horsham with regard to overlapping archaeological collecting areas (see below section 4.1.2).
Amberley with regard to certain industrial or transport items.
Littlehampton and Marlipins with regard to certain historical items.

1.4 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 DCMS in 2005.

1.5 The Council recognises that in certain fields the museum lacks appropriate curatorial expertise to develop its existing collections. It also recognises that growth and maintenance of some collections is at present limited by shortage of storage space and unsatisfactory environmental conditions.

1.6 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.

2 Principles of Acquisition

2.1 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. 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).

2.2 The Council will not accept any gift or bequest, to which conditions are attached, except insofar as they are intended to assure the permanent protection of the item in the museum.

2.3 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.

2.4 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, such as 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 (in England, Northern Ireland and Wales) or reporting finds through the Treasure Trove procedure (in Scotland).

2.5 Any exceptions to the above clauses 2. and 2.4 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.

2.6 Spoliation
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.

2.7  Repatriation and Restitution
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, 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. 

3 Principles of Disposal

 3.1 By definition, the museum has a long-term purpose and should possess (or intend to acquire) permanent collections in relation to its stated objectives. The governing body accepts the principle that, except for sound curatorial reasons, there is a strong presumption against the disposal of any items in the museum’s collection.

3.2 The museum will establish that it is legally free to dispose of an item. Any decision to dispose of material from the collections will be taken only after due consideration.

3.3 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.

3.4 Decisions to dispose of items will not be made with the principal aim of generating funds.

3.5 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 but in exceptional cases improvements relating to the care of collections may be justifiable. Advice on these cases will be sought from MLA.

3.6 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), will be the responsibility of the governing body of the museum acting on the advice of professional curatorial staff or disposal committee acting under delegated authority. The decision to dispose can not be the sole responsibility of the curator of the collection acting alone.

3.7 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, exchange or sale, directly to other Accredited Museums likely to be interested in its acquisition.

3.8 If the material is not acquired by any Accredited Museums to which it was offered directly, 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 Museums Journal, and in other professional journals where appropriate.

3.9 The announcement 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.

3.10 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 de-accession and disposal.

4 Synopsis of the Collections

4.1 Archaeology

4.1.1 From the 1930s to the 1970s the Worthing Archaeological Society was responsible for a number of major excavations. During the 1960s these were under the direction of staff at Worthing Museum. Since the early 1970s most excavations in the area have been carried out by professional archaeological units, usually the Field Archaeology Unit. Material from all this work is housed in Worthing Museum. The collection also includes chance finds and material from field walking.

4.1.2 The museum concentrates on material from the Worthing region. Although the area currently administered by Worthing Borough Council is quite small, the region is defined, for the purpose of archaeological collecting, as the area between the River Arun and River Adur and south of a line from Pulborough to Upper Beeding, with the exception of the parishes of Littlehampton and Rustington. This collecting area has been worked out in agreement with the Sussex Curators’ Group Archaeological Working Party. Although earlier acquisitions include some material from outside this area, new finds are now referred to a more appropriate museum.

4.1.3 The archaeology collection is extensive and includes both excavated material and stray finds of all periods from the Palaeolithic to Post-Medieval. Strengths include:
Material from important Neolithic flint-mining sites at Cissbury, Harrow Hill, Church Hill and Blackpatch including the John Pull Collection of flint-mining material.
Bronze Age material including a number of hoards from the area immediately around Worthing.
Iron Age material from the hillforts at Cissbury, Chanctonbury, Highdown and Harrow Hill.
Romano-British material from villa and religious sites, cremations, Wiggonholt pottery kilns and several coin hoards.
Early Anglo-Saxon finds from the large and important cemetery at Highdown.
Late Saxon material from settlement sites such as Botolphs and Steyning.
Medieval material from Bramber, Steyning, Tarring and the important pottery kiln site at Binstead.
Post-Medieval material from Offington Hall and Pulborough.
Patching Hoard
 
4.2 Costume

Although the museum has been acquiring items of costume and textiles since its very early days, staff did not actively collect until the 1960s when a series of appeals throughout the decade boosted the existing collection. This transformed it into one of the most important collections of its kind in the country. The Council has made a commitment to building on the collection’s excellence.
Since the 1960s the collection has grown to approximately 25,000 items of British clothing, accessories and ephemera, used and worn by both genders, all ages and social levels.
 
4.2.1 Women’s Costume: largest section of costume with examples of Haute Couture, dressmaker, home-made and mass-produced clothing. Garments from 1600. Accessories from 1600.

4.2.2 Men’s Costume: examples of Haute Couture, tailor-made, home-made and mass-produced clothing. Garments from 1700. Accessories from 1600

4.2.3 Children’s Costume: examples of tailor-made, dressmaker, home-made and mass-produced clothing. Garments from 1800. Accessories from 1700.

4.2.4 Infants’ Costume: examples of dressmaker, home-made and mass-produced clothing. Garments from 1700. Accessories from 1800.

4.2.5 Jewellery: over 1000 pieces including unmounted jeweller’s stock.

4.2.6 Foreign Costume having significant British connections (some)

4.2.7 Military Uniforms having significant association with the Worthing/Sussex region.

4.2.8 Occupational Clothing: (smocks, liveries etc.) British to 1950, from 1950 if having significant association with the Sussex region.

4.2.9 Associated ephemera (British and international): magazines, patterns, plates, photographs, manuals, trade catalogues from 1800.

4.2.10 Miscellaneous: including tailor/dressmaker dummies.

4.2.11 Strengths of the Costume Collection:
Women’s clothing, 18th century men’s clothing, fans (from 1700), women’s shoes (from 1700), women’s hats/bonnets (from c1750), wedding dresses (from 1800), swimming costumes (from 1900), ephemera, jewellery.
Important collections include Gooch (jewellery); Guermonprez (assorted); Ridlington (hats); Barr/Prentis (assorted); Coules (assorted); Frost (assorted); Jones (assorted); ‘Golden Boot’ (unsold stock from shoe shop); J.A.C. (unsold 1930s handbags from this London company), Chadwick (silver buttonhooks); Ida Pritchard (fashion drawings), Winn (children’s clothes)
 
4.3 Textiles
 
4.3.1. Needlework (International): Embroidered/silk pictures from 1600, samplers from 1664, needlework specimens from 1800, embroidery fragments/samples from 1700, patchwork from 1800, quilting from c1750, suffragette banners, lace from 1600.

4.3.2 Household linen (British): Bedding from 1900, towels from c1850, tableware (cloths, napkins etc.) from 1700, cushions/covers from c1850.

4.3.3 Domestic furnishing (British): Mirror surround c1660, hangings from 1680, curtains/blinds from c1850, bell pulls from c1850, furniture covers from c1850.

4.3.4 Fabric samples: Lengths and fragments of dress and furnishing fabrics from 1700.

4.3.5 Associated ephemera (British and International): magazines, patterns, manuals, trade catalogues.
 
4.4 Decorative Art

The decorative art collection has been built up steadily over the years and includes some fine examples of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain from the principal English factories as well as Sussex Ware and regional contemporary studio pottery. The collection dates from 1600 and includes some medieval and is particularly strong in nineteenth century wares and commemorative and souvenir pieces.
The small but very fine collection of English eighteenth and nineteenth century drinking glasses was mainly developed under the curatorship of Len Bickerton who was an authority on the subject. The Steyning Punch Bowl c1790, with its engraved decoration, is a special feature of the collection.
 
4.4.1 Ceramics: English earthenware (including Sussex Ware;, English stoneware; English porcelain; small collection of foreign wares; commemorative wares, national and local.  The collection is particularly strong in nineteenth century wares.

4.4.2 Glass: English drinking glasses, 18th and 19th centuries; miscellaneous domestic glassware; contemporary studio glassware; European glass, 18th and 19th centuries

4.4.3 Silver: small collection of mainly domestic items
 
4.5 Fine Art

The museum has built up an extensive topographical collection of paintings, prints and drawings dating from 1800 to the present day. It also has a fine body of oil paintings by the British Post-Impressionist painters who were members of the Camden Town Group. The watercolours include works by some of the main watercolourists working from the eighteenth century onwards.
 
4.5.1  Oil Paintings: English school from 18th century onwards; works of Sussex subjects and by artists with a Sussex connection; modern English painters and in particular the Camden Town Group.

4.5.2 Watercolours: comprehensive representation of the English school, 18th century onwards; topographical collection relating to Sussex and the Worthing area.

4.5.3 Drawings, miniatures, and pastels: small collections

4.5.4 Prints: English engravings, etchings and woodcuts, mostly early 20th century; topographical collection relating to Sussex, Worthing and Brighton, 18th-19th century.

4.5.5 Sculpture: a few pieces by 20th century sculptors.
 
4.6 Geology
 
4.6.1 A comprehensive and representative collection of rocks and minerals from south-east England and especially from Sussex.

4.6.2 A general mineralogical collection includes the Gooch collection of cut and uncut gemstones.

4.6.3 A fossil collection consisting mostly of Cretaceous fossils from south-east England and especially Sussex and including the E.C. Martin collection of material from the Upper Chalk.
 
4.7 Juvenilia

The juvenilia collection has been one of the museum’s particular strengths since the 1930s and the Council is committed to building on its excellence. It is not only one of the largest collections of its kind outside London but also includes pieces of superb quality and interest. These include English wax dolls, early paper dolls, dolls houses, clockwork toys, card, table and optical games as well as educational games and books.
 
4.7.1 Dolls –

The collection of over 900 dolls includes: examples of rare paper, wax and bisque dolls; the Dicey-Williams collection of needlework dolls; most main types of doll produced during the last 200 years; a considerable collection of dolls’ clothing, accessories and furniture; several fine dolls’ houses and a large amount of furniture and fittings.

4.7.2 Toys and games –

A large and varied collection of toys and games including: card and table games; clockwork toys; puzzles; railway toys; educational toys; optical toys; a number of fine teddy bears including early examples made by Steiff.

4.7.3 Children’s books –

Collection includes early educational volumes as well as a large number of illustrated fictional works.

4.7.4 A small collection of nursery equipment and ephemera associated with childhood.
 
4.8 Numismatics
 
4.8.1 The coin collection includes: Iron Age and Roman coins; British coins of all periods, as well as those from British overseas territories; a small but significant collection of tokens from Sussex as well as others from the rest of Britain.
 
4.8.2 The medal collection includes: commemorative medals from Sussex; commemorative medals marking events of national importance; British service and campaign medals; a small collection of British orders.
 
4.9 Social History

In general the Social History section covers all historical material that is not specifically covered by another section. It is, therefore, large and varied. There are extensive collections of material relating to domestic, social, corporate, commercial and occupational life.
 
4.9.1 Notable collections are those relating to:

Domestic crafts
Food and drink
Packaging
Photographic equipment
Shepherding (Barclay Wills Collection)
Worthing souvenirs
Worthing residents and history of the borough
 
4.9.2 Each of the main areas within the Social History section is supported by large holdings of printed ephemera and photographs. The collections relate primarily to English Social History and to the Worthing area in particular. There is a collection of over 6000 topographical photographs which illustrate how the area has developed and provide a wealth of information.
 
4.10 Colin Mears Bequest

A unique collection of items bequeathed in 1999 by a local collector, which spans several major collections including Decorative Art, Local History and Juvenilia.
 
4.10.1 Collection includes:

 Children’s books and work by children’s illustrators , e.g. Kate Greenway
 Greetings cards and postcards
 Vogue magazines
 Local ephemera
 Children’s china
 
5. Collecting Categories

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, on behalf of Worthing Borough Council, will continue to acquire objects in the following categories:

5.1 Archaeology
Material of all periods from the Worthing region (as defined above, paragraph 4.1.2)

5.2 Costume
Women’s, men’s, children’s and infants’ clothes, accessories and jewellery to fill gaps in the collection up to 1980; and from 1980 to establish a contemporary collection. Foreign costume only when having significant association with the Worthing area. Occupational clothing to fill gaps in the collection. British and international associated ephemera.

5.3 Textiles
Needlework, domestic furnishings, household linen and fabrics to fill gaps in the collections up to 1980; and from 1980 to establish a contemporary collection. British and international associated ephemera.

5.4 Decorative Art
Ceramics representative of the principal English factories and Sussex wares; English glass and domestic silver. Storage space for this collection is limited.

5.5 Fine Art
Oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, pastels, prints and sculpture representative of the main developments in English art. Topographical works relating to West Sussex and the Worthing area in particular. Although lack of storage space inhibits growth of the sculpture collection, work by notable Sussex sculptors will be considered.

5.6 Geology
As there is no specialist staff provision for geology curation, collecting will be passive rather than active. The museum will continue to acquire relevant specimens of rocks, fossils and minerals from south-east England and minerals from all areas as they become available.

5.7 Juvenilia
Dolls and accessories of all periods and types, dolls houses, furniture and fittings, toys and games, children’s books, nursery equipment and ephemera associated with these areas. Material will be sought to fill gaps and make the collections as comprehensive as possible, in line with the agreed Service Aim for particular excellence in this field.

5.8 Numismatics
Iron Age and Roman coins, especially those found in the Worthing region. English coins and tokens of all periods. British service and commemorative medals and British orders.

5.9 Social History
Objects relating to English social and domestic life. Objects relating to the town and residents of Worthing. Occupational tools and equipment appropriate to the Worthing region. Ephemera and local photographs.

6. Exclusions

Objects will not be acquired in the following fields:

6.1 Science and Technology: unless having a special significance to the Worthing area or to support 5.7, and 5.9.

6.2 Natural History: unless specifically to support displays in the fields listed in paragraphs 5.1 – 5.9.