Guidance on the Rationalisation of Museum Archaeology Collections

CLICK HERE to download a copy of the guidance in full.

Click on the case study participant names below to download each of the reports that form the basis of the guidance

Recent studies have clearly demonstrated the pressures that museums with archaeological collections are facing in terms of diminishing storage space, staff reductions and loss of expertise. It is in this context that rationalisation is being increasingly suggested as one way forward to help alleviate the archaeological archive storage problem. Furthermore, the audits required by the rationalisation process are seen to be useful exercises in collections management since they increase knowledge of and access to collections. However, despite the potential value of rationalisation, little practical guidance exists for those wishing to carry it out and the overall efficacy of the process has never been fully assessed for archaeological material – until now.

The publication of the guidance provided here marks the final stage of this hugely informative and collaborative project. It was delivered in partnership with the Society for Museum Archaeology (SMA) and five institutions in England responsible for the collection and care of archaeological archives.

The organisations chosen to undertake scoping studies funded by Historic England were:

Museum of London

Museums Worcestershire & Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service

Stroud District (Cowle) Museum Service/Museum in the Park (Gloucestershire)

Suffolk County Council Archaeological Archives

Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery Trust (Carlisle)


To promote the interests of archaeology in museums throughout the United Kingdom