Definition of terms used in this document.

Accession: (1) An object acquired by a museum as part of its permanent collection (Buck & Gilmore 1998:479); (2) the act of recording/processing an addition to the permanent collection (Nauert 1979); (3) one or more objects acquired at one time from one source constituting a single transaction between the museum and a source, or the transaction itself (Burcaw 1997).

Accession number: A control number, unique to an object, whose purpose is identification, not description (Nauert 1979). Accession records/register: Accessioned objects should be recorded in the museum’s Accession Register. This is an unalterable written record of the museum’s collection and exists in addition to the catalogue or computerized database. It contains information relevant to ownership of the item—how and when it is acquired—and includes the initial storage location, the entry/lot number, the accession number, the date accessioned, the person or organization from which the item was received, a brief description (Paolini 2007:25).

Acid-free materials: Papers and other materials that are often pH neutral or alkaline buffered; could be any pH from 6 to 11 (Rose and de Torres 1992). These materials are used for museum storage and museum exhibition.

AIC (American Institute for Conservation): U.S. professional organization for conservators (AIC 2016).

Archive: (1) The records of an organization or institution that have been preserved because of their continuing value; (2) an agency responsible for selecting, preserving, and making available records determined to have permanent or continuing value; (3) a building in which an archival institution is located (Daniels and Walch 1984).

Archivist: An individual responsible for appraising, acquiring, arranging, describing, preserving, and providing access to records of enduring value, according to the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control to protect the materials’ authenticity and context (Society of American Archivists website)

ARPA: The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, codified at 16 U.S.C. §§ 470aa–470mm (see

Climate control: The ability to adjust and regulate the temperature and relative humidity of a particular environment (Nauert 1979).

Collaborative conservation: Process of decision-making through partnership with the appropriate source community individual(s) who possess the cultural expertise and responsibility for items being conserved. The possibility of a traditional treatment by a community member may be included in the range of options. Dialogues with conservators may focus on tangible, or physical, aspects of collections, such as materials, how things are made, indigenous repairs, past restorations, residues, and evidence of use, as well as intangible aspects of collections, including contextual information regarding original uses, meaning and significance, associated stories, and memories.

Collections manager/care specialist: “an individual who is trained and experienced in specific preventive care activities and who works in conjunction with or under the supervision of a curator” (AIC 2016).

Community/Community members: Here, tribes and tribal members as well as Native corporations.

Condition report: An accurate and informative account of an object’s state of preservation at a moment in time. It provides a verbal and/or visual description of the nature, location, and extent of any damage in a clear, consistent manner (Demeroukas 1998:223, quoted in Buck & Gilmore 1998).

Conservation: “The profession devoted to the preservation of cultural property” with “activities including examination, documentation, treatment and preventive care supported by research and education” (AIC 2016).

Conservation documentation/reports: Recording in a permanent format the information of activities related to the examination, analysis, treatment and preventive care of collections (AIC 2016).

Conservation scientist: “a professional scientist whose primary focus is the application of specialized knowledge and skills to support the activities of conservation in accordance with an ethical code, such as the AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines of Practice” (AIC 2016).

Conservation treatment: The stabilization and/or restoration of an object or work of art through physical or chemical processes (AIC 2016). Conservation treatment decisions may result in a range of actions from full restoration to no treatment at all. A no-treatment option may result in the deterioration of the physical object in accordance with the wishes of the source community.

Conservator: A professional whose job is to preserve cultural property “through specialized education, knowledge, training, and experience and in accordance with an ethical code such as the AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice” (AIC 2016).

Consultant: A person who provides expert advice. The term is customarily used in NAGPRA proceedings. Curator: The professional who acquires, cares for, develops, and interprets a collection of artifacts or works of art (Ruge 2008:16).

EA (Environmental Assessment) and EIS (Environmental Impact Study): Two procedures required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (2 U.S.C. §4321 et seq.) to assess the impact of federal undertakings on the physical, social, and cultural environment. See

Exhibit preparator/handler: The person who supervises the installation of objects for museum exhibitions; plans and directs the fabrication, installation, and disassembly of temporary and permanent exhibits; coordinates the exhibit schedule; supervises installation/disassembly crew (Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc.).

Exhibit designer: The person who plans and implements the design of an exhibition, in collaboration with the exhibition curator and the museum team (Ruge 2008:23). ICOM (International Council on Museums): See

Intellectual property: A group of intangible rights that protect creative works, including copyright, trademarks, patents, publicity rights, performance rights, and rights against unfair competition. Intellectual rights may be divided into industrial rights, which include patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications, and copyright and related rights, which include the rights of reproduction, adaptation, distribution, exhibition, and performance, and moral rights (Society of American Archivists 2016).

Media release forms, or media permission forms: Consent to photograph, film, or videotape people, activities, materials, and so on, for nonprofit use. Participants sign the form to approve use of their image, voice, video, or words.

Mission statement: A brief statement that summarizes the museum’s reason for existence, typically including who we are, what we do, for whom we do it, and why we do it (Boylan 2004:209).

Museum: Any institution that stewards collections. ICOM’s definition is “a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment” (ICOM Archives 2016).

Museum catalog: Recording detailed information about individual items or groups of related items. The creation of a full record of information about a collections item, cross-referenced to other records and files (database, card, or ledger), including the process of identifying and documenting these objects in detail. The catalogue record allows you to assess what you have, what condition it is in, and where it is kept. It is the intellectual link to the physical specimen. Museum directors have responsibilities that may vary depending on the mission of the museum and its scale. The director is in charge of the museum within the frame defined by its governing authority or board of trustees. The director plans and develops the strategic options to increase the museum’s profile and visibility. They are responsible for the collections and for the quality of services and activities of the museum. They provide professional, cultural, and managerial leadership and management (Ruge 2008:15).

Museum documentation: Documentation is the process of recording information about the collections for which a museum or cultural institution is responsible. Proper documentation allows a museum to know what it has in its possession, whether anything is missing, where objects are located, as well as to prove ownership of objects, and create and maintain information about collections (Paolini 2007:2)

Museum educator: The professional devoted to developing and strengthening the museum’s role by enhancing the visitors’ ability to understand and appreciate museum collections (Wikipedia 2016). Museum records: All the information that allows a museum to properly care for and access their collection, including records to prove ownership, describe the material in the collection, document loans, and locate objects. Museum records ensure that museum collections are physically and intellectually available for collections management, interpretation, exhibition, and research. They give the museum accountability for its collection (NPS Museum Handbook, Part II, 2000, p. 1:2).

Museum vision statement: A declaration of an organization’s objectives, ideally based on economic foresight intended to guide internal decision-making (why and how). The vision statement indicates where the museum wishes to be in the future and provides a framework for growth (Wikipedia, 2016).

NAGPRA: Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, codified at 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq., is a U.S. federal law enacted on 16 November 1990. See

NPS: National Park Service. See

Preservation: In museology, preservation covers all the operations involved when an item enters a museum—that is to say, all the operations of acquisition, entering in the inventory, recording in the catalogue, placing in storage, conservation, and, if necessary, restoration. The preservation of heritage generally leads to a policy which starts with the establishment of a procedure and criteria for acquisition of the material and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment, and continues with the management of those things which have become museum items, and finally with their conservation (Desvallées and Mairesse 2009:65).

Preventive conservation/preventive care: “The mitigation of deterioration and damage to cultural property through the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures for the following: appropriate environmental conditions; handling and maintenance procedures for storage, exhibition, packing, transport, and use; integrated pest management; emergency preparedness and response; and reformatting/duplication” (AIC 2016).

Provenance: The history of ownership of a valued item or work of art or literature (Merriam-Webster 2015).

Provenience: The origin or source for acquisition of items, such as in archaeological site location or the original source of the item. (Merriam-Webster 2015).

Registrar: A professional with broad responsibilities in the development and enforcement of policies and procedures pertaining to the acquisition, management, and disposition of collections. Registrars maintain records pertaining to the objects for which the institution has assumed responsibility. Registrars handle arrangements for accessions, loans, packing, shipping, storage, customs, and insurance for museum materials (Buck and Gilmore 1998:12–13).

Repository: A place for receiving and managing collections and making them available for curation and research.

Restoration: Treatment procedures intended to return cultural property to a known or assumed [original] state, often through the addition of nonoriginal material. This may include aesthetic or cosmetic treatment of objects (AIC 2016).

School for Advanced Research (SAR): See

Stabilization: Treatment procedures intended to maintain the integrity of cultural property and to minimize deterioration. (AIC 2016).

Stewardship: the activity of monitoring, supervising or managing of something, especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care; for example, the stewardship of cultural heritage resources

THPO: Tribal Historic Preservation Officer; see and the national organization,

UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.