Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

New donation process

The AWM recently accepted a donation from the family of Thomas Steele who served in WW1 and WW2. Photo: ABC News: Elise Fantin.

Australian War Memorial overhauls donation process, ABC News, 18 July 2016

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) has had to overhaul its donation collection process in a bid to cope with the large volume of items it receives.

On average about 40,000 items are donated to the AWM each year but about half do not meet the required selection criteria.

Head of collection services retired Major General Brian Dawson said while each item was significant to the individual serviceman or woman, the AWM had to focus on collecting items of national significance.

“There is an element of once we take responsibility for an item we are really saying we will be looking after that in perpetuity, so we need to take some care in those items we do actually take into the collection,” he said.

In 2014-15 the AWM set up a special project to clear a backlog of donations and processed nearly 78,000 items.

It has now overhauled its donations procedure, requiring people to first complete an online questionnaire.

“We’d ask that people don’t just arrive at the AWM and put it on the front counter because that really doesn’t enable us to give it the proper assessment,” Major General Dawson said.

Once assessed, if the AWM is interested it will then organise to view the items and begin the handover process.

The AWM said it hoped the new method would result in a more streamlined service and fewer items being returned to donors.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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