Acquisitions and Deaccessions



Acquisitionis the process of acquiring objects for the ARC.  Acquisition is a necessary prerequisite for accessioning.  The Collections Committee may recommend acquired objects for accession.

Accessioning is the formal and legal procedure that officially incorporates objects into the archaeological collections of the ARC, or the registration of objects held-in-trust for federal and state agencies.   It is the transfer of clear title of the object(s) or the registration of held-in-trust objects. Upon accessioning, the ARC receives ownership of the acquisition or in the case of federal curation agreements, the intent for long-term curation.  The ARC assumes the obligation for the proper care and management of objects.  Accessioning includes: (1) inventorying and describing the object(s); (2) assigning the object(s) a unique accession number, and; (3) recording this information in the accession files of the ARC.

Donor is the individual or group from which collections are acquired by the ARC through a gift.

Collections include accessioned archaeological research and teaching collections consisting of artifacts and associated documentation (archival material).

Curation means the care and management of a collection. The management of these collections is the responsibility of the collections manager and curator.

Curation Agreements or partnerships are legally binding agreements made between the ARC and another institution, agency, or party for the care of a specific collection.  Terms of such agreements can vary, although most agreements made with Federal agencies should include the following terms: a basic description of the collection; collection standards; duration of agreement; and costs associated with the agreement.

Object(s) include archaeological artifacts and archival material.

Conditions for Acceptance


A major purpose of the acquisition policy is to insure that growth of collections is in harmony with the mission, goals, resources, and priorities of the ARC. The ARC is responsible for maintaining and conserving the objects in collections in perpetuity, as a public trust.  For this reason, the ARC accepts and acquires only those objects that fall within financial and physical limitations of the ARC.  All potential acquisitions are evaluated by the following criteria:

Legal and ethical standards governing possession and use of objects.  The ARC will not knowingly accept any object acquired by illegal or unethical means.

The object(s) must be consistent with the Mission Statement and Scope of Collections.

Willingness of the donor to transfer complete ownership (provide clear title, including any and all permits issued to acquire a collection or an object) to the ARC without restriction, limitation, or conditions. Use and disposition will be at the discretion of the ARC.

All rights and interests, including reproduction, title, and copyright shall be obtained by the ARC without restrictions or conditions.

Funding must be available if material is for sale.

Completeness of documentation.

Standards of Documentation

Minimum standards of documentation, including provenience, vary between the archaeological collections.  Objects with little or no contextual information, but with research and educational value, may be accessioned at the discretion of the curator and collections manager.

The ARC staff maintains accession files consisting of all transaction documents. Accession numbers are assigned in sequence within each year (e.g. 2008.1; 2008.2) with no duplication.

Means of Acquisition

Objects may be acquired by bequest, gift, purchase, exchange, field excavation, field collection, transfer from a governmental body, or any method that transfers title or long-term care of collections to the ARC.

Collections legally owned by a Federal agency and curated at the ARC by a curation agreement or partnership, are also accessioned (See Guidelines and Procedures for Submitting an Archaeological Collection to the ARC).  The accession file, however, should contain a description of the legal owner.

Acquisition Stipulations

The Collections Committee must approve all major acquisitions.

If deemed appropriate, all acquired objects will be accessioned in a timely manner.

A permanent accession record will be maintained for all acquisitions (refer to Acquisition Procedures).

The ARC does not guarantee donated material will stay together as one unit.

Objects will be retained permanently if they continue to be relevant to the mission of the ARC, and if they can be properly stored, preserved, and used.  Deaccessioning may be considered when one or more of these criteria no longer apply. 


Cultural materials known or suspected to have been collected or excavated in a manner contrary to the laws of the country of origin, state laws, or of international laws and agreements will not be considered for acquisition. Likewise, cultural materials known or suspected to be illegally exported from their country of origin will not be considered for acquisition.

 If the ARC should inadvertently acquire an object that is later determined to have been exported or recovered in violation of the Cultural Property Implementation Act (1983), the ARC will promptly return the object to the owner, or to the government of the country of origin, or to another appropriate recipient.

Archaeological field collections are made in strict compliance with the laws of the country, state, or relevant political jurisdiction in which the fieldwork is conducted.

Human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred items, and objects of cultural patrimony, as defined by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (Public Law 101-06), will be identified and repatriated in accordance with the requirements of the law or accepted regulations.

Gifts are deductible from taxable income.  Donors must obtain independent appraisal by a disinterested third party in accordance with Internal Revenue Service regulations.  Staff cannot make monetary appraisals of objects.

Individuals offering materials outside the Scope of Collections Policy of the ARC may be directed to some other, more appropriate museum or institution.



The accessioned collections are either owned by the ARC as an agent of the State of Kansas or held-in-trust for federal and state agencies.


Deaccessioning is the process by which a previously accessioned artifact is permanently removed from museum's collection. The ARC may deaccession an object or collection for the following reasons:

  • To establish order and purpose to the collection
  • It is outside the scope of collections
  • The cost of storage or conservation is prohibitive
  • Limited storage space
  • Duplication of material
  • Replacement with better examples
  • Deterioration beyond usefulness
  • Lack of physical integrity due to loss of documentation
  • Repatriation (NAGPRA) 


The authority to deaccession an artifact comes from the Collections Committee (see Statement of Authority). After which, objects may be removed from the collections with the written approval of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Public Service.



There are several options available for the disposal of deaccessioned materials depending on the needs of the ARC, the type of objects involved, and if there are any legally binding restrictions. Under no circumstances may ARC staff, associates, volunteers, or their relatives acquire deaccessioned objects.

Transfer — An object or collection may be donated to a more appropriate institution such as another museum, library, or archive. This option keeps the material accessible to the public for educational purposes.

Exchange — Objects of relatively equal value are exchanged between museums or non- profit organizations.

Education and Research — Deaccessioned artifacts may be used in school programs, for hands-on demonstrations, study, or testing. It will be accepted that deterioration and destruction of the items is inherent in this type of use.

Destruction — Objects in irreparable condition, or considered hazardous may be physically destroyed.

Repatriation — Human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony are returned to lineal descendants or culturally affiliated Indian tribe as required by the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990.


The curatorial staff shall keep complete documentation of the deaccession process, from initial review to disposal of material. The official records will include original deed of gift, proof of clear and unrestricted title, photographs of objects, in addition to all  paperwork associated with the objects and deaccessioning process. Accession numbers of deaccessioned objects will not be reused.