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  • Unique.
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Collections Policy

The mission of the National Vietnam Veterans Museum is to remember, interpret and relate the experience of the veterans of the Vietnam War and the enduring impact of the war on society.

To be the premier museum for the Vietnam War era.
• The National Vietnam Veterans Museum will achieve its Mission and Vision by becoming Museums Australia (Victoria) Accredited by February, 2018.
• It will demonstrate Museum leadership in the quality and significance of its collection, conservation programs, public programs including exhibitions, events and commemorations, research, scholarship and education.
• It will honour and enhance the relationship between the Museum and the Vietnam Veteran community through recognition of their service, and the special place of Veterans as founders of the Museum.

The document will be used for the development and management of the entire collection, less specific, unique sub-sections – aircraft, tracked and wheeled vehicles, artillery and weapons, for which sub-set policies may be developed.

Key Themes:
The key themes are the Vietnam Veteran experience in Vietnam broken down into the major phases of Australian involvement on the ground (Army, Navy and Air Force) over the period 1962 – 1975.
The National Vietnam Veterans Museum rigorously encompasses a thematic framework centered on the experiences of the Australian Vietnam War Veterans augmented by the experiences of other participants involved in the war that interacted with Australian Vietnam War Veterans to provide a personal, multi-dimensional and holistic experience.
The prelude to the war from 1945 in terms of the Cold War, the Korean War, Malaya Emergency, and the war against the French is a major setting theme yet to be explored, essentially explaining how the war came about and so how Australia became involved.
The socio-political situation in Australia before and during the war, including the peace movement later in the war and its impact on public opinion and veterans is included.
The Veteran experience of major allies in Vietnam namely the South Vietnamese, US, NZ and others needs to be further explored, although there is a small and growing collection of memorabilia uniforms, and impact of the war on the former South Vietnamese community. The impact of the war in Australia and the return of veterans as well as the Vietnamese émigré experience needs to be further developed.

The current collection is perhaps the largest single collection devoted to these themes anywhere in Australia including possibly the AWM. However, while it contains a number of unique and significant artifacts including digger art, the original National Service marbles and thousands of unique images etc. it remains dominated by large items.

Historic period/time period.
Currently the collection covers the period of the Australian involvement in Vietnam i.e., 1962 – 1975.
However, future collection planning could see the expansion of the collection period to include the period 1945 – 1961, which explains the prelude to the Vietnam War. This could include acquiring representative collection items of the Cold war, Korean War, the Indo-China war against the French and the conflict in Malaya, while retaining the Vietnam period as the primary focus of the collection.

Geographic area/region.
The collection covers items which are specifically Australian on the whole but determined by their use in Australia and in Vietnam.

Physical items to be collected.
The overriding principle is that only items with a tangible and validated connection with Australians and the Vietnam War will be collected.
Personal memorabilia such as letters, souvenirs, images, film, personal equipment which is unique or significant.
War related artefacts including maps, orders, diaries, memoirs etc.
Film – 8mm, 16mm, video, VHS and cassette tapes...
Documents, letters and books.
Dioramas and models.
Uniforms, national dress and hats.
Aircraft both fixed wing and helicopters.
Vehicles both tracked and wheeled.
Artillery pieces.
Personal weapons etc.

The collection is accessible to any visitor. A lift is provided for disabled access to the mezzanine levels of the Museum.
The bulk of objects and images are still in the process of being catalogued, however research access is possible by appointment.


Acquisition of objects for the permanent collection.
The Museum shall acquire objects for the permanent collection by donation, bequest, purchase or transfer. In the main, the Museum has acquired most of its collection through personal donation or, in the case of larger items such as aircraft or vehicles, through Australian or US Government disposal programs.

The Museum, as a general principle, does not accept items on loan or as conditional donations.

In general, once accreditation has been achieved, the Museum will be able to more thoroughly investigate approaching other institutions for transfer of items more suited to NVVM’s collection.

A formal policy and procedure for item acquisition and disposal has been adopted and is attached as an Appendix to this Policy.

Criteria guide for the collection of Museum objects.
The Museum will consider the following criteria before approving acquisition of an object:

• Relevance.
The Museum only collects objects that relate to the Museum’s purpose and key collecting areas.

• Significance.
Priority is given to objects which are significant for their historic, aesthetic, research, cultural or social/spiritual value. Note: Items of significance to remembrance and commemoration will be given equal consideration to objects for the collection per se.

• Provenance and documentation.
Priority will be given to objects where the history of the object is known and associated documentation and support material can be provided.

• Condition, intactness and integrity.
The condition of the object will be taken into consideration when acquiring material. The Museum reserves the right to decline acceptance of any item or object.

• Interpretive potential.
Objects that tell a story that adds to the interpretation of the Museum themes will be prioritized.

• Rarity.
Objects may be prioritized if they are rare examples of a particular kind of object.

• Representativeness.
Objects may be prioritized if they are an excellent representative example of a particular kind of object.


Managing object documentation.
The Museum aims at all times to maintain an effective documentation system. Donor Forms, Receipts, Museum Registers and catalogue information will be kept at the Museum.

Guidelines for acquiring and processing collection material.
The Museum will follow the guidelines below when acquiring material.

1. Owner or agent brings an item/s to the Museum. Museum Staff ask the owner or agent to complete the “Receipt – Assessment Form” and advise that the Museum may or may not keep the item after it has been assessed for inclusion into the collection. The owner/agent is advised that if a decision is made not to keep the item the owner/agent is to be advised that the Museum reserves the right to return the item to the owner/agent or dispose of the item/s in any way it sees fit. The owner/agent is advised that any item accepted by the Museum for its collection becomes the property of the Museum.

2. If items are received in the mail or an image of the object is received, Museum staff will communicate to the owner/agent the conditions by which the Museum will keep or dispose of the item/s received. A “Receipt – Assessment Form” is sent to the registered owner/agent.

3. This records that the Museum is holding the object and does not mean or imply the object has been accepted as part of the permanent collection.

4. Following assessment a letter of receipt is issued to the owner/agent recording the object name, address of the owner and contact number, date and decision as to whether the item/s are accepted into the collection. If the item/s are to be added into the collection, the same information is written on a tag and attached to the item/s. if the decision is made not to retain the item/s, a communication is to be sent to the owner/agent seeking advice as to whether the item/s are to be returned or otherwise disposed of. If no advice is received within ninety (90) days, the Museum can dispose of the item/s in any way it sees fit.

5. Notes on the history and associations of the item/s are to be completed by the owner/agent on the Schedule of Goods and Property to be used by the Museum for item/s assessment.

6. The item/s must be registered, numbered and catalogued. Where documentation relating to the significance of the object is available, an object file will be kept.

7. The Accession Register is completed with all relevant details including the item/s number and donor name retained.


The Museum is addressing the proper storage of collection items requiring it.

The Museum endeavors to store items in accordance with Museum best practice and procedure.

Specialist advice may be required from time to time, e.g., with fragile or textile items, and advice can be obtained in the first instance from University of Melbourne Heritage Conservation Centre or other appropriate institutions.

Caring for the Museum Collection.
The Museum aims to achieve high standards of collection, care and storage.
• Storage areas must remain clean, secure and sealed against the weather.
• Temperature and relative humidity should be kept as stable as possible.
• Access to storage areas is to be controlled.
• Ultra-violet light should be excluded from storage areas for all significant material.
• Storage areas must be regularly checked for pests and other problems.
• Objects are not to be stored on the floor.
• Untrained personnel should never attempt to clean, treat or restore museum objects.
• A routine program of pest eradication will be maintained.



The administrative process of removing an item from the collection allows an object to be de-accessioned from the Museum’s collection if:

• It does not comply with the current collection policy of the Museum.
• It is damaged beyond repair.
• The conservation and storage costs for it are beyond the means of the Museum.
• It is of a lesser quality duplicate of an object the Museum already owns.
• It lacks any supporting information to enable proper identification or to establish its relevance to the collection.
• A substantiated written request for the return of the object to its original owner/donor is received.

• The object identified for de-accession must be held for a twelve month “cooling off” period before it is finally disposed of.
• Staff, volunteers, Board Members and their families are prohibited from purchasing or otherwise obtaining a de-accessioned object.

The correct process to remove an object from the collection is:
In priority order the object must be:
1. Returned to the donor or family. If after a thorough search this is impossible, the object should be:
2. Transferred to another appropriate institution
3. Sold by public auction – where appropriate.
4. Used as an educative/interpretive tool.
5. Destroyed or recycled if appropriate.

Types of loans entered into and conditions under which material or an object is lent and borrowed.

• Permanent and long term loans will not be accepted by the Museum unless otherwise approved by the General Manager.
• The Museum will lend and borrow material and objects to help meet its purpose.
• A formal procedure exists for lending items to like minded institutions.
• The Museum holds separate forms for inward and outward loans.
• The preferred maximum loan period is twelve (12) months unless otherwise agreed by the General Manager in writing.

Managing inward (incoming) loans.

Refer to our Inward Loans Policy and Procedure.
An inward loan form should include the period of the loan and conditions of the loan.

• Inward loans should only be accepted for specific exhibitions or research and for fixed periods of time.
• Inward loans shall be recorded in a separate Loan Register.
• A representative from both the Museum and the lender will be required to sign an agreed loan inward form/letter. Each party will retain a copy of this form/letter. The form/letter will record conditions of the loan and the period of the loan.
• The Museum agrees to exercise the same care with respect to loans as it does for its own collection.
• Loans shall remain in the possession of the Museum for the time specified on the form/letter.
• The Museum can request to renew loans if required. Documentation recording renewal must be signed by a Museum Officer and the lender.

Managing outward (outgoing) loans.

• The Museum will lend objects to other Museums and organizations holding collections/displays. The Museum will not lend to private collectors.
• Borrowers and a representative from the Museum will be required to sign two (2) outward loan agreement forms/letters. Each party will retain a copy. The form/letter will record the condition of the loan and the period of the loan.
• The borrower must exercise care in the handling, storage and display of the loaned object and must be prepared to meet the conditions outlined in the outward loan agreement form/letter.
• The borrower will provide a secure display and/or storage area.
• The preferred maximum loan period is twelve (12) months unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Museum General Manager. Applications for extension of the designated loan period must be made prior to the initial loan expiry date.
• Objects cannot be treated or altered in any way without the written permission of the Museum.
• Loans will remain in the possession of the borrower until returned to the Museum.

Conditions applying to the collection of oral histories.

The Museum collects oral histories.
• An oral history agreement/letter is signed by the person interviewed which clearly states the purpose and intended uses of the interviews and the copyright conditions, if any, may apply.
• The Museum abides by the Guidelines of Ethical Practice of the Oral History Association of Australia found at

Providing access to the collection and collection records to researchers and the general public.

The collection is accessible to the public through regular opening hours and by appointment. Access to collection records and images for research purposes is also available by appointment.
Increasingly, images of selected collection items will be accessible through the Museum web site.

The Museum will review this Collection Policy every three (3) years.

The Museum General Manager and one (1) other Museum employee/volunteer working within the Museum’s collection, curatorial or library areas are required to endorse this Policy.


We, the undersigned, endorse this National Vietnam Veteran Museum Collection Policy: