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Article: Acquisition Policy in Palaeontology

Special Papers in Palaeontology - No. 22 - Cover Image
Publication: Special Papers in Palaeontology
Number: 22
Thematic Volume: Curration of Palaeontology Collections
Edited By: M. G. Bassett
Publication Date: 1979
Page(s): 27 36
Authored By: W. D. Ian Rolfe
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How to Cite

IAN ROLFE, W.D. 1979. Acquisition Policy in Palaeontology​. IN BASSET, M.G. (ed.) Curration of Palaeontology Collections. Special Papers in Palaeontology22, 27-36.

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The Palaeontological Association (Free Access)


A survey of twenty-three United Kingdom museums with major geological collections shows that only two have formal, published acquisition policies. Stated policies help to prevent random expansion, simplify problems of storage, conservation, and documentation, save curatorial time, and frustrate illicit trafficking in fossils. Additions are suggested to the Code of Practice for Acquisition to Museums, covering 'rescue collection' and guide-lines for field-work. A more rational approach to acquisitions is advocated: large-scale reference collections need not be an aim of most museums, as at present. Museums could co-operate more actively in the future by collecting in taxonomically or stratigraphically defined areas that are mutually exclusive. Each museum could voluntarily assume particular responsibilities in collecting, building on existing strengths. A prerequisite is the publication and discussion of lists of such responsibilities, in the Geological Curators' Group Newsletter. Museums would then redirect collections outside their particular responsibility to the more appropriate repository. Discussion of the retroactive application of such a policy to existing collections is premature: future collecting policy should first be agreed.

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