Deaccessioning and Disposal Policy

Section 1 – Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set out the principles and rationale that guide the deaccessioning and disposal of material from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) collections and to ensure that such disposals are neither unwarranted nor haphazard.

The objectives of this policy are to enable TMAG to:

a) improve the collections by rationalising, consolidating and focusing the collections as outlined in the TMAG Acquisition Policy;
b) dispose of material that is not required as part of its collections, in accordance with approved procedures;
c) transfer material that may be better placed in another museum or similar public collection institution; or
d) exchange material with another museum or public collecting institution where this will result in the mutual enrichment of both collections.
These objectives are to be achieved by ensuring that TMAG:
a) applies rigorous, ethical and accountable standards in proposals to deaccession and dispose of collection material;
b) considers and approves the deaccessioning and disposal of collection material in accordance with established delegated authority;
c) collection practices and procedures are transparent and provides the basis upon which responsible deaccessioning and disposal of items may be undertaken.


TMAG recognises that the ability to deaccession and dispose of material from the collection is an essential part of an effective collection management program. This policy covers the deaccessioning and disposal of material from TMAG’s collections.
This policy does not cover the disposal of non-collection assets.

Authorities / Legal Framework

This policy is established by the Director and approved by the Board of Trustees (the Board) pursuant to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Act 2017 (the Act)

  • Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 (Cth)


This policy should be read in conjunction with:

  • TMAG Acquisition Policy
  • TMAG discipline specific acquisition policies and procedures
  • Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth)
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – March 1973
  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Nagoya Protocol (2010)
  • 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

Section 2 – Glossary / Definitions

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Act 2017.

Means the Board of Trustees of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Is the formal process by which items in the museum’s collection are removed from the collection and are made ready for disposal. Deaccessioning is part of collection management.

The action taken to remove a collection item from the museum’s ownership, control or possession once the item has been deaccessioned. This action may take the form of gift, transfer, exchange, surrender, repatriation, sale or destruction.

The full history and chain of ownership of an item from the time of its discovery or creation to the present day, through which authenticity and legal title are determined.

The historical, aesthetic, scientific or social values that a museum object or collection has for past, present and future generations.

The legal right to ownership of property. This may be supported by full evidence of every transaction subsequent to the first owner’s title.

Section 3 – Policy

Part A – Statement

Under section 17 of the Act, the Board in its discretion may deaccession and dispose of material from the TMAG collections if satisfied that:

a) the material is unfit, unsafe or unsuitable for the collection;
b) the material is no longer required as part of the collection; or
c) there are other compelling reasons for effecting the disposal.

Regardless of the intended method of disposal, if the Board suspects the market value of the material exceeds or might exceed the threshold value under section 18 of the Act, then the Board is to notify the Minister of its intention to effect the disposal and await the Minister’s decision. The Board is not to effect the disposal unless the Minister, by notice to the Board, approves the disposal.

Part B – Responsibilities

The Minister decides on proposals for the disposal of collection material valued at or over the threshold value as defined in the Minister’s Statement of Expectation.
The Minister has set the threshold value for section 17(4) of the Act at $100,000.

The Board is responsible for ensuring the deaccession and disposal of material is consistent with the provisions of Division 2 of the Act.
The Board approves proposals for the deaccessioning and disposal of material up to the threshold value as defined in the Minister’s Statement of Expectation.

The Director is responsible for recommending the deaccessioning and disposal of collection material submitted to the Board for approval.

Employees of TMAG are responsible for submitting recommendations on the deaccession and proposed disposal of collection material to the Director for the Board’s approval.

Part C - Principles

Reasons for deaccessioning material

An item can be deaccessioned from TMAG’s collection for the following reasons:

a) TMAG collection policies have been revised since the item was acquired and/or the collections focus has been refined or altered.
b) The material constitutes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander human remains and secret/sacred material.
c) Items and human remains identified and/or required to be returned to the country of their origin.
d) Items come under the terms of the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 and the Museums (Aboriginal Remains) Act 1984.
e) Items are of a particular genre of which TMAG possesses better examples.
f) The item is a lesser quality duplicate of an item in the collection.
g) Items are so degraded or irreparably damaged that they are no longer recognisable or restorable and no longer suitable for scholarly or other museum purposes.
h) Items are so degraded that the cost of restoration and storage is disproportionate to the significance of the item.
i) The item can no longer be suitably stored.
j) The item lacks the supporting information or documentation of its acquisition or provenance that enables its proper identification or establishes its relevance to the collection.
k) Items are incorrectly identified or attributed, or are forgeries.
l) Items are of a hazardous nature which may pose a serious WHS risk to staff and visitors.
m) Items may have been unlawfully obtained by TMAG or may be claimed legitimately by an individual or their heirs, trustees or representatives, or by an organisation or institution representing a claimant, community or nation.
n) With the exception of special study collections, art works which fall below the general level of aesthetic quality or historical significance in TMAG’s representation of an artist, period or style

Exclusions from deaccessioning

Items that will NOT be considered for deaccessioning include:

a) those subject to a trust or other legal impediment or have conditions attached expressly or by implication which prohibits deaccessioning;
b) those that may, by law, be required to be retained or otherwise dealt with in accordance with heritage, archival or other similar legislation; and
c) those acquired less than ten years prior to the time of the proposed deaccession.

Natural sciences material that will NOT be considered for deaccessioning include specimens:

a) of extinct, rare, endangered and vulnerable species;
b) of historical, cultural or provenance significance;
c) that have been cited in published scientific work;
d) that have been formally labelled or otherwise annotated, indicating they have been used for a scientific study;
e) that are from sites from which further material cannot be collected; and
f) for which label data are in the public domain, such as in the Australian Virtual Herbarium, Atlas of Living Australia, Global Biodiversity Information Facility or the Tasmanian Natural Values Atlas.