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U.S. Department of the Interior - Museum Program
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NPS Museum Handbooks




The National Park Service has published the NPS Museum Handbook, which is a valuable tool for DOI curators and any museum professional. The handbook is divided into three sections: Museum Collections, Museum Records, and Museum Collections Use.

NPS Handbook with Quick Reference Guide - This is the complete handbook, as well as a Quick Reference Guide, for easy searching.

Museum  Handbook, Part I: Museum Collections [all parts are keyword searchable]
It focuses on standards and procedures of preservation for museum collections with information on:
  • Preservation and conservation
  • Emergency planning
  • Handling and shipping objects
  • Integrated pest management
  • Security and fire protection
  • Storage buildings, equipment and techniques
It also includes numerous appendices on techniques for the preservation of specific types of materials found in museum collections including:
  • Archeological objects
  • Cellulose nitrate film
  • Ceramics, glass and stone
  • Leather and skin objects
  • Metal objects
  • Paintings
  • Paper objects
  • Photo collections
  • Textiles
  • Wooden objects

Museum Handbook Part II: Museum Records
It addresses the standards and procedures for the following topics involved in the documentation and accountability of museum collections:
  • Accessioning
  • Cataloging
  • Inventorying
  • Marking objects
  • Record photography
  • Incoming and outgoing loans
  • Deaccessioning
It provides guidance on documenting and accounting for the following types of objects:
  • Archeology
  • Art
  • Ethnography
  • History
  • Archival and manuscript collections
  • Biology
  • Geology
  • Paleontology

Museum Handbook Part III: Museum Collections Use
It addresses the following topics:
  • Evaluating and documenting museum collections use
  • Legal issues
  • Publications
  • 2-Dimensional reproductions
  • 3-Dimensional reproductions
  • Special uses of museum collections
  • Using museum objects in exhibits
  • Furnished historic structures
  • Research
  • Guidance for planning research space¬†