How we assemble the collection of the Museum of Warsaw
What to collect? What criteria to use? How to make proper choices? What is of value? How to avoid creating a collection of obsolete items? These are some of the question which museums have to routinely consider.
The Museum of Warsaw boasts an enormous collection. Encompassing 300,000 items, the collection is comparable to those of national museums. Collecting exhibits is a process requiring care and critical thinking. In case of the Museum of Warsaw, it is important to consider what constitutes a “thing of Warsaw,” what will hold value for future generations and what will prove insignificant. Collecting items for its own sake may lead to exhibits lingering in storage rooms and only being seen by a narrow group of experts in distant future.
Our collecting policy abides by Polish law and internal regulations of the Museum of Warsaw, as well as the ICOM (International Council of Museums) Code of Ethics.
The document is based on four core definitions. Artefact – an object made by a human being, collection – a group of artefacts collected according to specific criteria, patrimony – a group of artefacts left behind by a person, family or an organisation, and collected items – individual artefacts, collections, and patrimonies owned by the Museum. According to these definitions, the Museum of Warsaw may only acquire individual artefacts, collections, and patrimonies.
The artefacts collected by the Museum should meet one of the criteria of being connected to Warsaw – which can encompass the thematic content of the work (urban space within its historical and administrative borders; inhabitants of the town, their activities, and events taking place in Warsaw) and the place of its creation.
In justified cases the Museum of Warsaw may waive the rule and include an artefact not meeting the aforementioned criteria in its collection.
The Museum of Warsaw also consists of a number of branches. Among the 29 thematic collections listed in the collecting policy, separate rules are determined for: the Korczak Collection, the Museum of Printing Collection, the Museum of Pharmacy Collection, the Palmiry Museum – Memorial Site Collection, and the Museum of Field Ordinance Collection.