The Department of the Interior (DOI) rivals the Smithsonian Institution in holding one of the largest collections of natural and cultural objects in trust for the American public. Ten DOI bureaus and offices manage over 205 million museum objects and archives that run the gamut from art to zoology. The exhibit "The American Bison: A National Symbol" on Google Arts and Culture exemplifies the impressive breadth of DOI's collections.
The Department recognizes the importance of museum collections to its missions and is committed to proper stewardship of these resources. DOI stewardship responsibilities include establishing policies and procedures for managing museum collections that meet the highest standards of the museum profession.
The Interior Museum Program (IMP) provides oversight, advocacy, training, and assistance to bureaus and offices in managing museum collections and their associated documentation within the framework of the DOI's policies and standards. It is located in the Office of Acquisition and Property Management (PAM) because museum property is a subset of Federal personal property. The Interior Museum Property Committee and the Executive Program Committee, made up of representatives from the ten DOI bureaus and offices, provide oversight assistance to the IMP.
In December 2009, the DOI Office of the Inspector General issued the report Department of the Interior Museum Collections: Accountability and Preservation. The IMP staff, in collaboration with DOI bureau curators, are working hard to address the Inspector General's recommendations. Activities include revising policy, ensuring inventories of museum objects are conducted regularly, finding DOI collections in non-DOI facilities, and providing technical assistance to both DOI and non-DOI facilities through site visits.
The IMP supports cooperative efforts among DOI bureaus, other Federal agencies, and non-Federal partners to manage museum collections for maximum benefit to the public and the Department. From 1992 to 2003, IMP staff led the Interagency Federal Collections Alliance (IFCA) to promote "best practices" in the management of Federal museum collections housed in Federal units and non-Federal institutions. IMP is also a member of the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections (IWGSC).