National Park Service


Date of this Version



U.S. Department of Interior, Archeological Assistance Program Technical Brief No. 13, April 1992.



Archeologists are beginning to rely more and more on curated collections as sources of research data. This trend is inevitable as the number of target archeological sites decreases. Yet, just as it is not possible to either preserve or investigate every archeological site, it is not feasible to preserve every artifact and sample in a museum in perpetuity. Informed decisions must be made about what to curate and these decisions will in effect determine the composition of archeology’s future database. As a consequence, the nature of the sample of the archeological record represented by curated collections and the suitability of this sample for long-term research must become major considerations in the management of archeological resources. The significance of curated archeological materials to research, education, and cultural heritage, the diversity and magnitude of these materials, and the associated costs of curation in perpetuity.

Curation in the Context of Cultural Resource Management

Curation as Resource Management

The Ethical Dilemma in the Context of Research Museums

The New York State Museum’s Collections: A Case Study of the Present Sample

Mechanisms for Effecting Collections Management by Museums

Steps toward Coordinated Regional Planning


References Cited

End Notes