From the foreword:
"Museums exist by virtue of their collections. In fact a collection is the hallmark of a museum – the criterion distinguishing it from any other scientific, cultural or educational institution. Deprive a museum of its collection and that museum will cease to exist; allow the standard of collection care to decline and the status of the whole museum sinks with it. It is for these reasons that collections management is an important activity, highlighted by the fact that natural history collections are often irreplaceable assets of the greatest value, both in international science and as part of a country's national heritage.
Despite these considerations, museum collections are under threat on a world-wide basis, through financial constraints, rationalization and cutbacks in curatorial and collections management staff. Such threats emphasize the need for the most cost-effective collections management practices that can be devised. Several factors have affected the process of collections management in recent years; among them are the establishment of many new kinds of collections, the size increase of traditional collections and the introduction of rapidly-changing technologies that have to be mastered. Effective collections managers are therefore highly skilled specialists who are now beginning to acquire the professional status they deserve.
The Transvaal Museum is fortunate in having a group of Collections Managers who are well trained, professional and enthusiastic. Among them is Elizabeth Herholdt, Manager of the very large and important mammal collection, who has had the benefit of extensive training and experience in the United States. The symposium, and its proceedings that comprise this volume, were the product of Elizabeth Herholdt's initiative and dedication to the cause of collections management. Production of the volume itself is a credit to our Scientific Editor, Dr N. J. Dippenaar, assisted by Anita Dreyer.
The fact that the symposium was attended by almost 100 delegates is an indication of the perceived need for such an event, while the valued support of the Foundation for Research Development and the Human Sciences Research Council allowed the participation of two American specialists whose presence gave an international flavour to a memorable event."
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