The Department of the Interior (DOI) rivals the Smithsonian Institution in holding natural and cultural objects in trust for the American public. With over 195 million objects and archives, Interior's museum collections run the gamut from art to zoology. Museum collections are held by ten of the Department's bureaus, offices, and the Office of the Secretary. This breadth of collections is exemplified in an exhibit "The American Bison: A National Symbol" on Google Arts and Culture.
The Department recognizes the importance of museum collections to its missions and is committed to the 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 Department"s policies and standards.
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. IMP staff led the Interagency Federal Collections Alliance (IFCA) to promote "best practices" in the management of Federal museum collections held in Federal units and non-Federal institutions from 1992-2003. IMP is also a member of the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections (IWGSC).
The IMP is managed by the Office of Acquisition and Property Management (PAM). This is because museum property is a subset of Federal personal property. The Interior Museum Property Committee and the Executive Program Committee, made up of representatives of each of the bureaus in Interior, provides 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 are conducted in DOI museum facilities and non-DOI facilities that house DOI collections, finding DOI collections in non-DOI facilities, and conducting site reviews of both DOI and non-DOI facilities in order to assess their compliance with Department policy, review museum property management procedures, and provide technical assistance.