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Webinar: Understanding Provenance

April 2, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT

$40 – $65
Text over block color reads Understanding Provenance. The block of green blocks most of the background image, but on the top and bottom of the block are sunlit instruments, including a piano and a drum.

Defined as the history of ownership and transmission of an item, provenance is an important consideration for museums and related institutions. Provenance confirms if the owner of an item has (or had) clear title in order to rightfully transfer it to an institution.

Museum provenance stories have been all over the news lately. The British Museum will not return the Elgin Marbles to Greece – ever. The German government recently seized watercolors signed “A. Hitler” from an auction house because they were suspected to be fakes. These stories may seem worlds away from the typical acquisition and documentation problems found in history museum collections, but they offer pause for thought about the acquisitions processes of our museums.  What practices and procedures (if any) were followed years ago at your museum or site? How is provenance documented for acquisitions today? What might we want to consider for this essential process in the future?

This 90-minute webinar will review current professional standards for documenting provenance of acquisitions. What types of documentation are reasonable? What questions might you ask a donor? We will also discuss how to approach or interpret previous practices at our museums that don’t necessarily meet today’s standards for documentation. Lastly, we’ll consider what we may want to think about for the future of museum collection documentation. Participants will have an opportunity to submit provenance problems in advance of the session.

This webinar is part of the StEPs Lab series of online continuing education offered to both StEPs program participants and all others interested in collections management.


DATE: April 2, 2019

TIME: 3:00 – 4:30 pm EASTERN (Remember to adjust for your time zone)

COST: $40 Members / $65 Nonmembers / $15 discount for StEPs participants with promo code found on StEPs Community website

Closed captioning available upon advanced notice. Please contact flammia@aaslh.org for more information.

Participant Outcomes

This webinar will help participants:

  • Understand best practices and procedures for documenting the ownership history of objects that may be offered as donations to their museums;
  • Learn about circumstances that may warrant further careful consideration before considering an object for acquisition;
  • Thoughtfully interpret the existing ownership documentation for objects already in their collections, and
  • Know where to find information about trends in provenance research as they develop revisions to their collection management policies in the future.


Dr. Erin Richardson facilitates museums’ and cultural organizations’ capacity for mission delivery, particularly relating to art and artifact collections. With more than twenty years experience working with museum communities at Historic Cherry Hill, Fenimore Art Museum, and the Farmers’ Museum, she started a consulting firm in 2018 to assist museums in solving pressing long-term collection problems so that they may effectively serve their communities. Richardson holds a BA in American Studies from the SUNY Geneseo, a MA in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and a PhD in Leadership and Policy from Niagara University.


April 2, 2019
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
$40 – $65
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