Museology Master of Arts Program

June 12, 2015

Managing Education Collections: The Care/Use Balance in Natural History Museums

Thesis by Anna Goss (2015)

Although many natural history museums across the country manage education collections, not much literature exists on the level of care these collections receive and how institutions make decisions regarding this care. The purpose of this research study was to examine the standards of care for education collections at natural history museums. Using a descriptive case study approach, twelve museum professionals representing four large natural history museums were interviewed. Study results suggest that, while education collections are considered consumable collections, museums enact various levels of care to prolong the usefulness of these specimens and objects, including repair and preventative maintenance. Further, institutions critically consider what it means for objects to be a part of the education collection, in terms of possible damage to the object and potential benefits to learning in the museum. These results will provide a critical lens for museum professionals who use or care for education collections.

Keywords: natural history museums, education collections, research, collections management; natural history museums


Goss, A. J. (2015). Managing education collections: The Care/Use balance in natural history museums (Order No. 1600397). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1732390355). Retrieved from