This Guide is intended to assist managers in implementing sections of the Treasury Board Policy on Management of Materiel (2006) related to the management of movable heritage assets. The Policy stipulates that these assets are to be identified and protected, their heritage value is to be assessed, and a record that includes accurate information about their nature and condition is to be kept.
Movable heritage assets range from art and archaeological artifacts to everyday objects, including objects related to federal heritage buildings. The Auditor General of Canada defines cultural heritage as the tangible evidence of human experience, such as artifacts, archives, printed material, cultural products, architectural heritage, sacred sites, and archaeology. The conservation of such collections benefits both the present and future generations by supporting avenues for education, recreation, and employment. A strong and vibrant cultural heritage contributes to a higher quality of life for all Canadians.
Policies that contribute to progressively strengthening the protection of Canada's cultural heritage have grown in importance. This Guide supports the implementation of the Treasury Board Policy on Management of Materiel by helping federal organizations (other than national museums and Parks Canada, for which other policies already exist) protect collections or artifacts that may have a heritage value. To prevent organizations from accidentally neglecting or disposing of the valued assets, the Guide proposes good practices for identifying and protecting these collections as part of daily operations. Furthermore, the Guide encourages accountability for the management of these assets through public reporting.
The benefits of effective management of movable heritage assets include the following:
Note: "Department" refers to departments and agencies named in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act.
The purpose of this Guide is to assist materiel managers in identifying and managing Canada's movable heritage assets. A common set of procedures to protect these assets, ensuring consistent decision-making and management practices, will ultimately contribute to the promotion and reinforcement of Canada's cultural identity and social cohesiveness.
Flowing from the Policy on Management of Materiel, which provides policy direction on the identification and management of all departmental movable assets, this Guide sets out good practices for the management of those movable assets that are considered heritage assets. Government departments collectively possess materiel that could potentially have heritage value. It is therefore critical that departments develop mechanisms to identify and protect movable heritage assets in accordance with a set of requirements, while considering a wide range of good practices.
Note: This Guide was developed to provide departments with the best advice available on how they can implement the requirements of the Treasury Board Policy on Management of Materiel regarding the management of movable heritage assets. While adherence to this Guide is voluntary, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat may ask departments to explain any deviation from the advice that it offers.
This section describes the process of managing movable heritage assets.
The Policy on Management of Materiel (2006) requires that the deputy heads of departments ensure the following:
The effective management of movable heritage assets has five steps:
When managing movable heritage assets, consider the following:
The identification of items is the first step in the management of movable heritage assets. It is good practice for departments to do the following:
It is good practice for departments to do the following:
The assessment should be documented and retained for future reference.
Note: The significance of an item should be documented.
Documentation creates a record of the item's location, condition, heritage criteria and significance, physical characteristics, ownership, and use. When an item is removed from its original context, documentation helps to identify its history, trace its use, and, under the appropriate circumstances, reinstate it to its original context. It is good practice for departments to do the following:
Note: Talk to people who used the item or who remember its history.
Note: Researching local history provides a context for understanding the item and the reasons it is important.
Note: Monetary value is not a criterion to be considered. If the object is an antique or work of art, however, it may be important to record fair market value, particularly if the item may be transferred to another institution in the future.
Once items of heritage value are assessed, a conservation plan should be prepared for items considered of significant heritage value, especially before any decisions are made that could have an adverse effect on the condition of the item. A conservation plan can help provide clear direction, ensure a consistent approach, and identify management objectives and responsibilities. The conservation plan can establish the appropriate actions to manage a heritage asset and provide mechanisms for the decision makers about the future use of the asset.
It is good practice for departments to do the following:
Note: Conservation objectives, management responsibilities, and appropriate management techniques should be clearly defined. Exercise minimal intervention and reversibility.
A movable heritage item can usually survive for a long period in its original context or in storage that follows Canadian museum standards as long as basic security, protection, and shelter from the elements are provided. Items can be easily damaged through hasty or poorly informed actions. The risks of poor heritage asset management can be mitigated through the development of and adherence to maintenance plans. It is good practice for departments to do the following:
Note: Repairs should be approached with caution because certain techniques can cause irreversible damage. Consider seeking the advice of a specialist before undertaking repairs.
Note: Because movable heritage assets are portable, they can be easily sold, relocated, or discarded during changes in management. For this reason, movable heritage assets are also vulnerable to loss, damage, theft, and dispersal, often before their heritage significance is appreciated.
Note: Conservation treatment of art and artifacts of significant heritage value must be performed by trained conservation professionals in adherence with the Code of Ethics and Guidance for Practice of the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property and of the Canadian Association of Professional Conservators. (Professional credentials include accreditation by the Canadian Association for Conservation.) Heritage assets of lesser significance, such as collections of heritage case goods or public monuments, can be preserved and repaired following conservation principles (i.e. minimal intervention and reversibility) under the general guidance and supervision of a conservation professional.
Note: Repainting and other seemingly standard maintenance can damage or destroy original materials, as can repairs, reconstruction, and the addition of new parts to make an item operational.
For further information on disposal, please refer to the Directive on Disposal of Surplus Materiel(2006).
Advice on how to transfer heritage assets to designated Canadian institutions and contact information for them may be obtained by email from staff of the Movable Cultural Property Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A list of national heritage institutions and links to their websites, with contact information, can be found at http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/bcm-mcp/desgntn/index-eng.cfm.
The Canadian Conservation Institute provides departments with advice, assistance, and information on the following subjects:
For additional information, call 1-866-998-3721.
Parks Canada can provide the following to departments:
Cultural Resources Management Policy http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/pc/poli/princip/sec3/part3a-eng.asp
Parks Canada's Guidelines for the Management of Archaeological Resources http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/pc/guide/gra-mar/index-eng.asp
Part of Public Works and Government Services Canada, CAD does the following for departments:
CHIN provides the following to departments:
For additional information, call 1-800-520-2446.
CMA assists departments in finding provincial and local museums and associations.
CAPC and CAC provide departments with the following:
CAPHC provides departments with the following:
Please direct enquiries about this policy instrument to the organizational unit in your department responsible for this subject matter. For interpretation of this policy instrument, the responsible organizational unit should contact: TBS Public Enquiries.
Lists of museums and similar institutions, as designated under the Cultural Property Export and Import Act based on their capacity to preserve heritage objects and make them publicly accessible, can be accessed by consulting the website of the Movable Cultural Property Program of Canadian Heritage at http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/bcm-mcp/desgntn/index-eng.cfm.
[Adapted from Significance: A Guide to Assessing the Significance of Cultural Heritage Objects and Collections of the Heritage Collections Council, Australia. The full original version of Significance may be found at http://www.collectionsaustralia.net/sector_info_item/5.]
An object may be historically significant for its association with people, events, places, or themes. Historically significant objects range from those associated with famous people and important events to those illustrating daily life, used by ordinary people.
An object may be aesthetically significant for its craftsmanship, style, technical excellence, beauty, demonstration of skill, or quality of design and execution.
Scientific or research significance
An object or collection may have research significance if it has major potential value for further scientific examination or study. An object may be of scientific value if it demonstrates the documented distribution, range, variation, or habitat of a taxon or taxonomic category, such as a species or genus. Archaeological artifacts and collections may have research significance if they are provenanced and were recovered from a documented context and if they represent aspects of history that are not well reflected in other sources.
Social or spiritual significance
Objects have social significance if they are held in community esteem. This may be demonstrated by social, spiritual, or cultural expressions that provide evidence of a community's strong affection for an object or collection and of how it contributes to that community's identity and social cohesion. Some objects have intrinsic spiritual qualities for particular groups of people and belief systems and are referred to as sacred objects.
Provenance refers to the chain of ownership and context of use of an object. Knowing this history enables a more precise assessment. Provenance is central to establishing historic and scientific significance.
An object may be significant because it represents a particular category of object, activity, way of life, or historical theme.
An object may be significant as a rare, unusual, or particularly fine example of its type. It is possible for an object's significance to be rated as both rare and representative.
Condition, intactness, and integrity
An object may be significant because it is unusually complete or in sound original condition. Objects with these characteristics are said to have integrity. Changes and adaptations made in the working life of an object do not necessarily diminish significance and are in fact also recognized as an integral part of the object and its history.
An object's significance may be enhanced by its connection to the mandate of the department or agency.
Significance of the maker or manufacturer
An object's significance may be enhanced by the fact of its having been made by someone prominent or important to the development of particular manufacturing or artistic techniques or by the connection of the maker to the history of the department, agency, or country.
[Adapted from A Guide to the Preparation of Conservation Plans of the Scottish Executive, Scotland. The full original version may be found at http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/conservation_plans.pdf.]
Preparation of a conservation plan encourages those with responsibility for an asset to think about it in a structured way and to assess how and why it is significant and how it should be managed.
A conservation plan should be a living document that has a clearly defined purpose and is used and updated as required. The preparation of a conservation plan should not be an end in itself but be considered a necessary management tool. In the long term, a conservation plan should pay dividends to the department or agency by providing a firm foundation for management and expenditure decisions.
For example only: A department's asset conservation plan may include the following:
Summarize the conservation plan's main conclusions and recommendations, whether for physical interventions or management strategies, under the categories Urgent, Necessary, and Desirable, with a program and timetable for implementation.
Assess and analyze the historical and cultural significance of the asset.
Once the cultural significance of the asset has been identified, an assessment of its particular problems and sensitivities is required, along with consideration of the options available for its conservation.
Issues to consider should include the following:
Note: Once the options available have been considered, the proposed actions should be identified and justified. An assessment of the effect on the asset of any proposed works should be prepared, for example by way of a table, checklist, or other form.
Once what needs to be done has been identified, a statement should be prepared setting out the actions necessary to preserve the cultural and historic significance of the asset. These might include the following:
Note: The action plan should clearly identify who has the responsibility for the actions proposed. It should also identify possible sources of funding for the implementation of the action plan and any time restrictions on expenditure.
The conservation plan should establish the arrangements and timeframe for a periodic review of the contents of the plan and the implementation of the recommended actions.
Depending on the length and nature of the conservation plan, some information may be more appropriate as appendices, which, if they are lengthy, may best be contained in a volume separate from the conservation plan itself.
The appendices may include the following, as appropriate: