York Museums Trust

< Back to Blog

Ask The Expert Q&A 6 January 2017: Spectrum – with Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown, Outreach Officer for Collections Trust, will be answering your questions on all things SPECTRUM on Friday 6 January 2017, between 2-3pm GMT.

Sarah Brown is the Outreach Officer for Collections Trust. Sarah has worked in a variety of collections management and care roles across the UK. In her role as Outreach Officer, Sarah delivers training and support across the English regions, working closely with the museum development network.

Throughout 2016 Collections Trust have been working on a revised edition of the SPECTRUM standard, following extensive consultation with the museum sector.

Whether you have a general question about the SPECTRUM standard or want to give feedback on the draft material for SPECTRUM 5, you’re welcome to join in.

Draft material will be posted in advance of the blog, for participants to review.


SPECTRUM is the UK Museum Collections Management Standard. It is a publication that takes you through the activities involved in managing a collection and its associated information, through 21 procedures – taking you from object entry to deaccessioning. This includes 8 primary procedures that are linked to UK Accreditation.

For this live blog, we have shared a draft of the Object Entry procedure, to give you an idea of the direction of Spectrum 5. A full Spectrum 5 draft will be available on our website, for a period of consultation, from mid-January. Spectrum 5 will be launched in May 2017, following re-drafting and design. Here is a summary of some key changes:

  • We have tried to make the language clearer, more concise and accessible.
  • Definition has become Definition and scope, giving more contextual information about when and why a procedure might be carried out.
  • We want to make it clearer that the minimum requirements are mitigating against a number of risks, both to collections and organisations. We have introduced a column explaining why each minimum requirement is important. We hope this will be useful for Spectrum users in their own work, and also as an advocacy tool.
  • We want to make it easier for people to find the information they need, where previously it might have been held in several different places and difficult to find – for example in the Spectrum standard, factsheets on our website, other resources etc. We will do this by pulling information together and providing it in different levels:
    • Core information, including what should be achieved e.g. the standard – Definition and Scope, and The Spectrum Standard
    • Step by step simple guidance for those carrying out procedures – Suggested Procedure and Suggested Procedure Workflow
    • Information and guidance about policy requirements, legal considerations, decision making and adapting procedures for your own organisation – Detailed Guidance
  • We know that a lot of people find the flowcharts in Spectrum 4 very useful, whilst others find them a little confusing. Spectrum 5 will include a step by step Suggested Procedure in text form, as well as simpler versions of the flowcharts.
  • Pre-entry has been incorporated into Object Entry, rather than as a separate procedure.
  • Risk Management will be re-titled Disaster Management to better reflect the content of the procedure.
  • We will be introducing a new procedure, for Collections Review.

Download the draft Spectrum standard here

Sarah Brown, will be answering your questions on Spectrum on Friday 6 January 2017 between 2-3pm GMT.

You can post questions before the Q & A session, on 6 January, or you can converse in real time with our expert. You can use the comment box below to post a question, or you can use twitter with the hashtag  #mdyask.

Comments have to be moderated, to protect the blog from spam, so if your comment doesn’t appear straight away, don’t worry, we’ll get to it as quickly as we can.

If you have a problem submitting questions, either in the comment box, or via twitter, please email your questions to [email protected]

If you have ideas for subjects you’d like to see us cover in future, or would like to take questions yourself, please get in contact with us and let us know.

Your Comments

  1. Dominic Rogan |

    What will be the biggest change that most collection managers will to deal with?

  2. Alan Bentley |

    How will these changes impact on people who are working on accreditation?

  3. Sarah |

    Hi Dominic
    Thanks for your question. We hope that the biggest changes will be positive ones, rather than creating additional work or pressure for staff and volunteers involved in collections management – we’ve been working a lot on the language and presentation of Spectrum to make things clearer, and not assuming prior knowledge. For example, we had feedback that there was confusion between what information was the actual standard (the mandatory level to be achieved) and which information was advice and guidance. We’ve addressed this through the different sections / levels, as well as in the text itself. This is reflected in the draft Object Entry procedure we’ve shared. We will also be carefully considering how we publish Spectrum on our website, so it is easier for those wishing to use and adapt sections for their own procedural manuals.
    Another big change is the introduction of a new procedure, for Collections Review.
    My colleagues are currently working on the full draft, so keep an eye on our (new!) website in mid-January and please do take part in the consultation.

  4. Sarah |

    Hi Alan
    Thanks for your question. We’re working really closely with the Accreditation Committee to ensure they’re happy with any changes that might be made to the content of any of the Primary Procedures, as these are the procedures required by Accreditation. There will also be clear communication from both Collections Trust and ACE in terms of timings, so people are aware when ACE update their Accreditation guidance to reflect SPECTRUM 5. Again, we hope a lot of the changes will actually make things clearer for people when it comes to implementing the primary procedures, and ensuring they can identify any actions they may need to make improvements.

    Our outreach work, with the museum development network, will also involve training and workshops on SPECTRUM 5, so that people feel comfortable with the new version. Part of my role also involved answering enquiries, so there will be plenty of support.

  5. Sarah |

    Alan and Dominic, if you’ve had a chance to look at the draft Object Entry procedure please do let us know your thoughts – the more feedback we get, the stronger the new version will be. Thanks.

  6. Alan Bentley |

    I can’t see the document via the blog it doesn’t seem to want to load

  7. Gillian Waters |

    Hi Alan
    Click on the download button and it should open in a new tab

  8. Sarah |

    Hi Alan, it worked for me once I clicked on the Download icon (next to the print icon, top left). Sarah

  9. Gillian Waters |

    ‏@Ben63 · says It does look to be in good clear language with a good balance of information and process

  10. Gillian Waters |

    @Dominic_MRogan says “Very interested to see how this applies as my work is centred on collection review! #SPECTRUM5

  11. Gillian Waters |

    @Dominic_MRogan syas ” Just read through, taking a break from auditing! I realllike the workflow chart, nice clarity.”

  12. Sarah |

    Thanks everyone for your questions. I hope you will take part in our consultation when we release the full draft of SPECTRUM 5 in a couple of weeks http://collectionstrust.org.uk/spectrum/ . The final version will be launched in May 2017.

Keep in Touch

Enter your email address to sign up to the York Museums Trust newsletter.