A general conservation assessment is an overarching study of an institution’s conditions, policies, and procedures related to collections care. It includes a review of storage and exhibition environment and usage, the building and building envelope, and staff and volunteer structure and training.
It is not an object-by-object survey, nor does it involve treatment of objects or treatment advice. Institutions looking for funding for preservation or treatment activities may wish to consider applying for a Museums for America grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services or a Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions through the National Endowment for the Humanities.
First, you should consider if your institution is ready to commit to improving collections care. As a first step, CAP will provide you with a road map that you can use to improve the state of your collections. But in order to see improvement, your institution must be willing to work to implement those recommendations. If there are institutional barriers that you expect might prevent you from implementation, you might consider exploring the American Alliance of Museums' Museum Assessment Program (MAP) or American Association for State and Local History’s Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs) program. See below for more information on these programs.
If you believe it is the right time for your organization to explore a CAP assessment, you should review the program Eligibility and Process. Make sure that your institution meets all eligibility requirements and that you have the time to commit to the process.
If you have additional concerns, please contacts us at 202.750.3346 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes! There are many reasons why an institution would want to receive a new CAP assessment. We welcome applications for all eligible institutions, regardless of whether and when you received prior assessments.
If your collections and/or facilities are too large to be surveyed within two days, you may wish to consider applying for a grant through the IMLS Museums for America program.
Only museums are eligible for CAP. These may be: aquariums, arboretums, art museums, botanical gardens, children’s museums, general museums, historic houses/sites, history museums, natural history/anthropology museums, nature centers, planetariums, science/technology museums, specialized museums, or zoological parks.
If your organization is a library or archive and you hope to obtain a conservation assessment for your collections, you may wish to consider applying for a Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions through the National Endowment for the Humanities.
CAP, MAP, and StEPs are all assessment programs designed to help improve the professional work of small museums in the United States. Each program has a different goal, process, and outcome. CAP is the most specific, in that it focuses specifically on collections care and conservation. Of the three assessment types, it is also the most dependent upon outside consultants (in contrast to the internal self-assessment structures of MAP and StEPs).
MAP (Museum Assessment Program) is administered by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) to help museums strengthen operations, plan for the future, and meet professional standards. MAP participants undergo a one-year self-assessment followed by a peer review in one of three categories: organizational, collections stewardship, or community engagement assessments.
StEPs (Standards and Excellence Program for History Museums), administered by the American Association for State and Local History, is a self-paced self-study program that allows museums to assess their policies and practices and benchmark themselves against national museum standards.
To learn more about MAP and StEPs, please visit their respective webpages.
The overarching goal of the new CAP program remains the same as that of the old: to perform a general conservation assessment resulting in a report with a prioritized list of recommendations for improved collections care. However, we have modified numerous aspects of the program to improve the process.
Yes, an institution within a multipurpose public or private nonprofit organization such as a municipality, university, historical society, foundation, or cultural center may apply for CAP if it:
Not necessarily. If you’re just concerned that limited resources have prevented you from creating an ideal environment for your collections, this might be a great time for a CAP assessment. Having an outside perspective might help you figure out how to most effectively solve your museum’s collections challenges.
If your collections or parts of your site are inaccessible, the assessors won’t be able to properly evaluate your museum. In that case, you might want to consider American Association for State and Local History’s Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs) program to guide you through basic collections care practices.
FAIC administers the CAP Program under a cooperative agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
FAIC’s CAP Program staff is responsible for developing program materials with guidance from a Steering Committee, reviewing applications, guiding assessors and institutions through the process, processing assessor payments, and evaluating and adapting the program.
We are always willing to talk about your questions, challenges, or suggestions. You can call us at 202.750.3346 or email us at email@example.com.
Your participation cannot be deferred to a future year. If circumstances with your institution change before you have signed a contract with assessors, you must let usknow immediately so funding can be re-allocated to another institution on the wait list.
Your assessor contract is a binding agreement for service. The assessor is obligated to perform the work, and you are obligated to pay the costs outlined in the contract.
Use the report to develop a conservation plan that identifies your approach to implementing the suggestions. Your plan can be as simple or as detailed as you wish, as long as it specifies what to do next.
As you develop your conservation plan, consider these questions: What can be done immediately? Which suggestions will be easiest to implement in the short-term, given your staff and budget? Which will require you to fundraise? How will you fundraise? Do you have private donors who might be interested in supporting one project? Are there grants that might support others? What other resources will help you? Where might you find these resources?
Your conservation plan will be a great talking point for the follow-up consultation with your assessors the following year!