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