Deaccessioning Demystified!

by Kelly Gascoine on

Are you wary of starting a deaccessioning project–or even mentioning the need to deaccession to your board? Does it sound too big, too formidable, too filled with potholes that might trip you up? Maybe you’ve never even considered getting rid of any artifacts in your collection.

Morris-Butler House exterior. Photo credit: Paige Wassel

Morris-Butler House exterior. Photo credit: Paige Wassel

Sound familiar? Historic house and museum professionals and boards often view deaccessioning as a daunting process, or may not even recognize the need for this vital component of collections care. Understanding and applying its nuances and process can be seen as difficult, not to mention the need to create support for deaccessioning with staff, volunteers, and your board.

At the AASLH conference this year in Louisville, we’re challenging people to think about the power of possibilities through the process of deaccessioning. Gwendolen Raley, with Indiana Landmarks, Carrie Villar, with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and I will lead a half-day workshop on Wednesday afternoon, discussing our real-world implementation of deaccessioning practices.

If your collections storage looks like this, you may need to deaccession!

If your collections storage looks like this, you may need to deaccession!

Topics will include collection policies and documents, ethical issues, how to communicate with stakeholders, and how to apply funds from deaccessioning in an ethical manner (including direct care projects). We’ll share stories of our successes and our failures (come find out which ones we’ve had more of!), and lessons learned from each, to demystify the deaccessioning process.

We’re looking forward to engaging participants in conversation about their own challenges and issues with deaccessioning projects and to discuss possible solutions. Participants will gain a better understanding of the pragmatic implementation of deaccessioning best practices, and how to implement those practices at their own sites and institutions.

I’m looking forward to talking with fellow professional about deaccessioning at our workshop at the AASLH conference in September! Check out other exciting sessions, workshops, and events here,, and I hope you see you in Louisville!


Kelly Gascoine sits on AASLH’s Historic House Committee and works for Indiana Landmarks as Heritage Experiences Manager. At Indiana Landmarks, she is involved in the ongoing repurposing and deaccessioning project at Morris-Butler House. Indiana Landmarks is a statewide historic preservation nonprofit with eight offices and many historic structures in its portfolio, including Morris-Butler House.

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