Museum Policy

Preservation. Documentation. Access. Use. Museum collections are complex and take a great deal of expertise and care to manage. Museum policy and guidance help the Department of the Interior achieve the highest standards of the museum profession and ensure we are the best possible stewards of our museum collections.

Ten bureaus and offices with very different missions manage Department of the Interior museum collections. Having standard, shared museum policy ensures all collections are handled professionally, responsibly, and ethically across the entire Department of the Interior. 



The Interior Museum Program develops policy to establish standards for all Department of the Interior museum collections. Our policies respond to laws Congress enacts, interpret requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations, and align with Department of the Interior priorities and U.S. Department of the Interior FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. Department of the Interior museum policy is also informed by and conforms with professional museum standards, practices, and ethics.

  • Departmental Manual Part 411 Chapter 1, "Identifying and Managing Museum Property" is the primary policy for the preservation and management of museum collections. 
  • The DOI Museum Property Directives are single-subject policy documents building on the primary policy and informing all aspects of management, preservation, documentation, and use of museum collections. 

Laws ⇒ Regulations ⇒ Policy  ⇒ Guidance


The Interior Museum Program also develops guidance to supplement Department of the Interior museum policy. Guidance documents are the instruction manuals for museum policy, assisting museum stewards in preserving, documenting, and managing museum collections.

Browse the Electronic Library of the Interior Policies