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What’s the Fuss?: Deaccession and Disposal of International Outfits and Garments at the Renton History Museum

Project by Kelsey E. Novick (2017)

This project was designed to deaccession and dispose of twenty-eight international outfits and garments from the Renton History Museum’s collection in an ethical and legal manner. The goal was to find new homes for the outfits and garments at institutions that could utilize and care for the objects. Many small historical museums in the United States accessioned objects into their collections that did not fit within the scope of their collections, collecting policies, or mission statements. Storage of these objects limited the storage for other objects that did fit within their collections and missions, while caring for these objects also took away from proper care of other mission appropriate objects and artifacts. To address these types of objects and to benefit the permanent collections of small historical museums, these institutions partake in deaccessioning, or the permanent removal and disposal of an object from a museum’s collection.

The project’s methodology was guided by the best practices and procedures in the field as well as from the research performed on each individual deaccessioned object. Main activities of the project included an assessment of the collection through cataloging, proper disposal decision making, and completion of the disposal process. Twenty-two of the outfits and garments were successfully donated to non-profit cultural institutions and six await final committee decisions from their respective transfer institutions. The results of the project were due to a clear set of disposal procedures and a greater understanding of the objects’ significance. It connected institutions with objects that did fit within their missions and lessened the burden of the Renton History Museum to care for objects that couldn’t be utilized or contribute to the museum’s mission. This project demonstrated how small historical museums can successfully utilize deaccessioning as an essential collections management tool.

Keywords: Class of 2017, museum, museum studies, museology, project, history museums, collections, deaccessioning


Novick, K. (2017). What’s the Fuss?: Deaccession and Disposal of International Outfits and Garments at the Renton History Museum. Unpublished master’s project, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.