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Collection and Item Assessments and Consultations

A collection-level or item-level assessment can be used for budgeting and to support fundraising efforts and grant applications.

For a description of the assessment timeline and instructions on how to request a proposal, visit Working With Collection Assessments or download a printable Assessment Fact Sheet to share with administration or planning teams. Learn more about the Benefits of Assessments.

Collection-level Assessments

Collection-level assessments focus on a specific collection—often made up of several formats—within an institution. Examples are audio materials, photographic materials, negatives, rare books, maps, or architectural drawings. An NEDCC conservator or audio preservation expert will visit the institution to assess the collection, making recommendations for its care, including overall preventive maintenance actions as well as treatment options. A collection-level assessment may also identify groups of objects and individual objects in need of treatment and provide treatment proposals along with ball-park cost estimates for treatment at NEDCC. Priorities for a treatment program are included in the written report and can also be used to prioritize items for digitization.

A Collection-Level Assessment will . . .

  • Focus on the objects within the collection and their current storage;
  • Provide a broad overview of the condition of the collection as a whole;
  • Recommend next steps for the long term care of the collection; 
  • Evaluate the general condition of a sample of materials and provide recommendations for long-term preservation; and
  • Help with creating policies for access of the collection.

Outreach Conservator Tahe Zalal discusses the preservation of a rare document at the Charleston County South Carolina Register of Deeds with Michael Miller.Item-Level Assessments

Item-level condition assessments focus on a preselected group of artifacts. These assessments are more detailed in their object-level evaluation of materials than collection assessments and generally consist of in-depth examination of a relatively small group of objects (usually less than 200, depending on format). Treatment priorities are developed and ball-park cost estimates are prepared.

Item-level assessments are often an appropriate next step after an inventory is done and a collection-level assessment has been completed. Condition assessments are performed by members of NEDCC's audio and conservation staff and can be undertaken for a group of books, works of art, photographs, negatives, archival materials, or audio formats with less attention to addressing general preservation needs.

An Item-Level Assessment will . . .

  • Provide specific information about each object;
  • Establish individual conservation priorities and condition levels;
  • Provide recommendations for the long term care of a specific items within your collection; and
  • Assist with internal decisions about treatment of your materials.


The Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program is a joint effort of IMLS and FAIC to provide small and mid-sized museums with partial funding toward a general conservation assessment. Assessments must be performed by assessors who is approved for the CAP program. NEDCC staff includes the following approved assessors: Bexx Caswell-Olson, Director of Book Conservation, and Monique Fischer, Senior Photograph Conservator. 

The assessment is a study of all of the institution's collections, buildings, and building systems, as well as its policies and procedures relating to collections care. Participants who complete the program receive an assessment report with prioritized recommendations to improve collections care. CAP is often a first step for small institutions that wish to improve the condition of their collections.

A CAP Assessment for Museums will . . .

  • Provide recommendations and priorities for collections care specific to your collections
  • Facilitate the development of a long-range preservation plan
  • Serve as a fundraising tool for future collections projects


NEDCC conservators provide consultation services on many conservation issues. Please call NEDCC to discuss a customized consultation. Some of the most popular include:

  • collection storage and housing
  • exhibit practices

LEARN MORE about our staff

Read about the experience and qualifications of the NEDCC Staff.


Complete information about how to work with NEDCC on a collection assessment, visit:  Working with NEDCC on a Collection Assessment, or download a printable Assessment Fact Sheet, to share with administration or planning teams. Learn more about the Benefits of Assessments


Michael Lee,  
Director of Paper and Photograph Conservation
(978) 470-1010 ext. 228

Monique Fischer
Senior Photograph Conservator
(978) 470-1010 ext. 229

Bexx Caswell-Olson,
Director of Book Conservation
(978) 470-1010 ext. 234

Bryce Roe,
Director of Audio Preservation Services
(978) 470-1010, ext 237