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DeVos Art Museum - Access To The Collection Policy

DeVos Art Museum - Access To The Collection Policy


The DeVos Art Museum (the Museum) at Northern Michigan University (NMU) Collection Management Guidelines establish the procedures for acquisition, deaccession, loan, care, and use of the collections of the Museum. The guidelines of the Museum shall exist within those of NMU, State or Federal law, and statutes of regulation under which the Museum is legally or ethically bound to operate.

A.  Purpose of the Collection Management Policy:

NMU is vested with the ultimate responsibility for the safety and maintenance of the museum-quality collections that it owns. The Museum collection is part of the collections at NMU. The staff of the Museum, under the authority of the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art and Design and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, are charged with the primary functions of collecting, researching, interpreting, exhibiting, preserving, maintaining, and caring for NMU’s fine art and related historical collections, according to the highest museum standards and ethics possible. 

NMU maintains other collections, including the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archive, the Provost Collection of Student Art, the Special Collections of Olson Library, and the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center. These areas maintain their policies, guidelines, and records. However, the DeVos Art Museum will, to the extent possible, advise, assist, and collaborate with faculty and staff responsible for the other NMU collections. Still, the DeVos Art Museum is primarily responsible for fine art and related historical items.


A. Outgoing Loans
The Museum encourages loans from the permanent collection for exhibition at other museums, galleries, or cultural institutions to promote research and increase and extend the knowledge of the collection. The Museum does not lend to individuals, private galleries, corporations, etc. unless the work is borrowed for educational and/or scholarly purposes.

Loan requests must be made in writing to the Museum Director or Collection and Outreach Curator at least three (3) months before the proposed loan period. The borrowing institution must provide a facility report so the Museum can make certain loaned objects will receive the care and protection normally expected in a museum environment. The following criteria will be considered before a loan is approved: condition of the work(s) and its ability to withstand the rigors of travel, the professional standards of the borrowing institution, the duration and impact of the absence of the object on the Museum’s programs, the importance and scholarly content of the exhibition, and the ability of the Museum staff to make the object available. The Museum Director or Collection and Outreach Curator will respond to loan requests
within 30 days of receiving the written request.

Outgoing loans will be insured by the borrowing institution or the DeVos Art Museum at the expense of the borrowing institution. Proof of insurance must be provided to the Museum before the object leaves Museum storage. All labels and publications related to a borrowed object must identify the Museum as the lender with the credit line supplied by the Museum.

B. General Access
While the Museum is committed to preserving works of art under its care, a balance must be struck between the preservation of the collection and its use for research, exhibition, educational, and promotional purposes. Access to and use of the collections by staff, students, scholars, and the public increases the risk to works of art and requires appropriate controls. This access is provided through exhibitions, programs, publications, collection records, research files, visual resources, consultation with staff, and online through the Museum’s website. Only staff members with designated authority shall have access to the permanent collection storage area and collection records of the Museum. Others shall not be allowed in storage areas unless under the supervision of an authorized staff member.

Works not on public view as well as the associated records are made available for study as space and time permit, by appointment only. Appointment requests must be made through and approved by the Museum Director or Collection and Outreach Curator at least two weeks before the day being requested. The Museum reserves the right to refuse access to or use of, its collections.

1. NMU Faculty and Staff. The level of access is determined by the particular staff member’s need to access the collection to fulfill his/her responsibilities. Staff members, including student staff, who handle works of art are appropriately trained and supervised when necessary.

2. NMU Students. Students are not allowed to handle works of art and are supervised during their research in collection storage.

3. Outside Scholars. Scholars, under the direct supervision of authorized staff, may be allowed to handle works of art that pertain to their areas of research or expertise.

4. Public. The public’s main access to the collection is through exhibitions and publications. Individual or group visits to object storage are supervised by Museum staff. School groups are never allowed to handle works of art in the collection and will be supervised by Museum and school staff.

5. Access to the Study Collection. The Study Collection designation identifies works with little or no intrinsic value except as examples of their type. These works, some of which may have been deaccessioned and moved to the Study Collection, may be handled by students with staff supervision.


A. Documentation
Documentation is essential for collection development, research, preservation, and interpretation. Collection documentation includes written and electronic information pertaining to the identity, locality, provenance, and transfer of legal title of works of art in the collection, and other related information regarding significance, description, condition, and usage after acquisition. Change in the condition or treatment of the object is also documented. Legal documents regarding acquisitions are kept in hard-copy form in secured work files. Except for selective documentation subject to restriction, the Museum makes information about its collection easily accessible to the public.

B. Art Handling and Security
Artwork is handled only by trained Museum staff, with the Museum Director, Collections Curator, or Preparator supervising all movement. Staff is trained by the Museum Director, the Collection and Outreach Curator and/or the Preparator by personal instruction and reading materials about proper artwork handling. Gloves are worn following current best practices when handling objects, except objects that cannot be handled safely with gloves. In all areas of the Museum, including storage, pencils are the only writing utensils allowed.

The Museum is continually monitored by NMU’s Department of Public Safety through video recording. During open hours, student staff are present to monitor the galleries in-person and over the video monitoring system. The Museum Director and/or Collections and Outreach Curator trains staff in handling potential problems quickly and efficiently to avoid possible damage to artwork and respond appropriately to emergencies that may arise.

C. Insurance
Insurance coverage for the fine arts collection is paid for with University funds. Objects are periodically re-evaluated for value per the request of the Museum Director and/or the Department of Risk Management at NMU. The value of a work of art is considered highly restricted information.

D. Rights and Reproduction
The Museum and NMU retain copyright on all photographs or other images, including slides, film, video, or digital images of its collection, premises, and buildings.

No collection work is reproduced without first researching copyright and obtaining permission from the copyright holder. The purpose of the reproduction must have a direct relationship to the mission of the Museum. Requests for publication rights must be made to the Museum Director by letter or e-mail. Publication rights are granted for one time only, and the Museum’s specific assigned credit line must be used. The Museum Director will determine the fee for photography and reproduction services.

E. Preservation
The Museum and NMU will meet basic Museum standards to maintain the appropriate environmental conditions for all exhibition and storage areas, according to standards given by the American Association of Museums. This includes protection against harmful light, temperature extremes, humidity, dirt, pests, and improper handling.

When a specific preservation/conservation project is needed (upon available funding), notification will be given to the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art and the DeVos Art Museum Permanent Collection Committee. All treatments will be completed by contracting with qualified conservators, and permanent records of treatments will be kept with the object files.

Date Approved:1-4-2000
Last Revision:7-27-2023
Last Reviewed:7-27-2023
Approved By:President
Oversight Unit:ART & DESIGN, SCHOOL OF
Attached form file: DAMCollectionUpdate7_27_23.pdf