Benchmarks 3 - Conservation Planning Tool
What is Benchmarks 3?
Benchmarks 3 is a self-assessment checklist that sets out clear and realistic goals for managing the conservation of collections. It can be downloaded here free of charge. Benchmarks 3 is a planning tool which should be used as part of an organisation’s planning cycle to assess and plan all conservation-related activity (preventive and remedial) and to measure progress against those plans. Specifically, Benchmarks can be used to:
- highlight the importance of protecting collections for their long-term conservation
- identify achievements in conservation management
- give an indication of which improvements in conservation might be needed
- provide a practical framework for measuring progress, and creating forward plans
- provide a framework for managing risk to your collection
Benchmarks 3 is available currently as an Excel spreadsheet format for download below. A PDF version for download is being prepared and soon there will be an online version. The latter is expected to be launched in 2022.
Who is Benchmarks 3 for?
Benchmarks 3 is for any organisation with a long-term mission of conserving heritage collections. It is specifically aimed at museums, libraries and archives – it includes library collections, but is not designed for use by public lending libraries. Collections can include:
- 2D and 3D items
- physical objects and digital formats
- working and handling items
- items on display, in use and in store
- items displayed or stored in open sites
It is not directly designed for Historic Houses but elements can be used for these. An Historic House version is hoped to be ready for use in an online version in 2023.
What are benchmarks?
A benchmark is an agreed level of performance by which something can be measured. In Benchmarks 3, individual benchmarks are drawn from published sources and are used to define, measure and compare different areas of conservation management and activity.
How does Benchmarks relate to standards?
Benchmarks 3 is drawn from published conservation standards and initiatives – it is not a standard itself but a management tool which provides a way of assessing your collection needs against current conservation standards. There is a list of relevant standards under sources of help and advice in an accompanying guidance document, available to download below. There are also broader legal standards and requirements, such as health and safety, which will impact on your conservation management. It is expected that your organisation already understands and complies with these, and they are not referred to in Benchmarks, but for your guidance they are also listed in sources of help and advice.
Benchmarks and Accreditation
Completing Benchmarks 3 is not an Accreditation requirement and can be carried out by organisations not planning to apply for Accreditation, as a way to assess how your collections are being protected and to plan and prioritise improvements.
The Accreditation standards (for Museums and for Archives) require a Conservation Policy and a Conservation Plan (sometimes referred to as collections care policies and plans) both of which are informed by an assessment of the needs of the collection in your building and service. You will need to decide how you want to carry out that assessment and Benchmarks 3 is one option that is available to you. The advantage of using Benchmarks is that it is a tried and trusted management tool that has recently been updated to comply with best practice.