Collections Development Policy

The NPHT collections are managed by Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies and Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust (acting as an agent for the Buckinghamshire County Council).

Date on which this Policy was approved by the Trust: March 2018

Date at which this policy is due for review: March 2019

1.    NPHT Statement of Purpose is:

The National Paralympic Heritage Trust will cherish, capture and explore the heritage of the British Paralympic Movement past, present and future, for generations to come

The National Paralympic Heritage Trust intends that it will collect, document and interpret for posterity the archives and heritage associated with the British Paralympic movement. The collection will be assembled, managed, recorded and made accessible to high professional standards and to wider audiences, taking account of the limitations of storage, staffing, financial and other resources. In order that NPHT may deliver an efficient and sustainable service, it has entered in to an arrangement with Buckinghamshire County Council (represented by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (CBS)) and Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust (BCMT) to care for collections deposited with NPHT and with CBS. This will enable collecting on behalf of NPHT, promote the use of the collections it has gathered and interpret the collections for wider public access. NPHT recognises the importance of information associated with archives and heritage objects and the quality of contextual information with individual objects will influence decisions on collecting.

2. An overview of current collections

The heritage is focused on the unique history of the development of the Paralympic Movement in Great Britain, from its birthplace in Stoke Mandeville in 1948 to the present day successes of the British Paralympic team. It is an inspiring and moving story of international significance.

From a British perspective it tells the history of a remarkable movement through the many individuals who have been part of the Games. It is a journey that has had profound effects on the lives of many disabled people and their families. It has led the way in changing public attitudes towards disabled people and influenced the development of new technologies to better support them. It is a tale that is still unfolding with further significant developments made during the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the success of the British Paralympic teams in subsequent Games.

The physical heritage includes objects, archives and oral history, created by the original involved organisations; the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (originally the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation) and WheelPower (originally the British Paraplegic Sports Society). An interim box-list has been created of this material, but this simply scratches the surface of the interpretation required. The NSIC and IWAS collections have already been deposited at CBS, and the WheelPower collection is still held at source. There are also considerable unrecorded or partially recorded personal and organisational collections identified in a pilot mapping exercise, carried out by Dr Justine Reilly, with owners keen to donate or provide on long–term loan once there is an established accredited Trust. CBS created twenty-three oral histories, recorded as part of the Paralympic Voices project, with Paralympians involved in the development of the Movement.

Included in these existing collections are medals, torches, sports equipment, sportswear, trophies, flags, medical records, score boards, posters, programmes, gifts, correspondence and minutes, photographs and films.

The provisions of this Collections Development Policy refer to the permanent, accessioned collections.

The role of the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies and the Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust

Artefact and Archive collections loaned or donated to the NPHT by third parties and in the care of the BCMT or CBS will remain the responsibility of the NPHT which shall satisfy the lender that appropriate provision has been made in respect of insurance and that proper standards of care are being applied. Artefact or Archive collections may also be directly received on deposit with CBS and shall remain the responsibility of the CBS or BCMT where artefacts received by the BCMT as the agent of the County Council and so be regulated under the terms of the Collections Care agreement that is maintained by the County Council with the BCMT and described in the next section. 

The management of object collections by Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust

In August 2014 the County Council made arrangements with the newly established Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust (BCMT) for the management of museum operations including collections to be transferred to it. Legal agreements including a funding Agreement, Collections Agreement and leases were signed by both parties and all external contracts relating to collections deposit were novated. The BCMT has set out its intentions in relation to future acquisitions and its proposals were submitted at the time of accreditation in 2014 for subsequent incorporation into a CDP.

To clarify the position of lenders and donors to the NPHT a form of wording is used in agreements with them as set out at Annex 1 and an abbreviated version of this will be included in the entry forms completed at time of deposit.

The management of archive collections by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies

The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies is run by Buckinghamshire County Council and is designated by The National Archives as the place of deposit for the historic county of Bucks. CBS has a service level agreement with NPHT to provide storage, collections care and access to archive collections relating to the history of the Paralympic movement across the whole of Great Britain. CBS’s acquisitions policy reflects this range of collecting. CBS can and will take collections directly on deposit, as well as through NPHT as an intermediary, on the understanding that they can be utilised by NPHT for exhibition and interpretation (with the depositor’s agreement).

The range of Collections

Collections that will be proactively sought for acquisition include anything that is related to the British Paralympic movement, such as:

  • NPHT’s own organisational collection – inclusive of born-digital records deemed as archive
  • Organisational material – organisations that have had a role in the development of the Paralympic movement in Great Britain and who have not already made provision for the long-term care of their collections
  • Personal material – individuals who competed for Great Britain (and constituent nations) who collected items as part of their career; individuals who worked in relevant organisations such as the National Spinal Injuries Centre, etc.
  • Contemporary arts and crafts that take inspiration from the Paralympic movement
  • Social history relating to the Paralympic movement
  • Costume collections from national and international competitions
  • Technology relating to the development of the Paralympic movement, such as wheelchairs, assistive equipment, sports equipment and closely related medical equipment
  • Artefacts that will increase understanding and enhance appreciation of or will enable NPHT to tell the story of the development of the Paralympic movement.

NPHT will not accept any material with specific conditions attached.

CBS and BCMT will acquire items in accordance with this policy by deposit, gift, bequest or purchase. No items will be accepted with specific conditions unless with the approval of NPHT.

NPHT may not accept items that cannot be stored or conserved to an acceptable standard.

NPHT will seek to assist individuals to identify the best place for deposit/loan, wherever that may be across the country.

3.    The future of Collecting

The NPHT will take a proactive approach to collecting through the definition of research objectives on an occasional basis. These will be designed to critically review stories and messages relevant to heritage of the Paralympic movement or deemed to be associated with it but so far unrepresented or under-represented in the collections and to propose strategies that enable their enhancement. This may take the form of documentary research, purchase, reproduction, community research projects or public advertisement.

Themes and priorities for acquisitions

The main themes are:

  • What are the Paralympic Games – as they are today, the sports, the disabilities, summer and winter games, categories.
  • Origins – the start of the Paralympic movement in 1948 at Stoke Mandeville, and other significant competitions for people with disabilities that have helped pave the way to the modern Paralympic Games. Significant milestones.
  • Sports Medicine – advances in medical treatment and rehabilitations. Changing attitudes in the medical profession.
  • The Kit – Design and technology of the kit including the clothing
  • Life journeys – oral histories, biographies, personal accounts, training routines, preparing for an event.
  • Pioneers – biographies in words, pictures and objects of significant figures in the development of the movement including Dr Ludwig Guttmann, other doctors, nurses, coaches, organisers and athletes.
  • Defining moments – key video and audio to bring the experience of watching or taking part in the Paralympics to life.
  • In this place – items relating to specific places for example Stoke Mandeville Stadium and other satellite spaces for example Manchester.

Relationship with other collectors

There are no other formal British Paralympic Collections known of within the UK. Some museums have purchased items that relate to their own specialist collections for example London’s Science Museum have the first hand cycle machine designed to be wheeled over the beds of spinal injuries patients, designed by Dr Guttmann. Central Government collections relating to London 2012 are in the care of The National Archives. The Wellcome Trust holds the Guttmann Collection on deposit, which consists of personal letters, photographs and material relating to Sir Ludwig’s migration to the UK. NPHT will liaise with other potential collectors including:

  • The National Football Museum – Blind football
  • The International Rugby Museum – Wheelchair Rugby
  • The River and Rowing Museum – Paralympic Rowing
  • The Tennis Museum – Wheelchair Tennis
  • And other organisations identified through the Mapping Report of 2016.

The Trust will take a positive role in supporting other places of deposit (museums and archives etc.) to ensure that relevant collections are efficiently managed and identified.

Approach to disposal of duplicates - collected items that are not accessioned at receipt or used only for Education or promotional purposes

It is expected that duplicate material will be retained at least in part to assist with education and handling collections, but it is not intended that these will be accessioned or comprise a permanent part of collections. Consent to this use will be sought from depositors at the time of deposit or in retrospect where collections are deemed surplus to need for the main collection.

Mixed collections requiring sorting/culling

Mixed collections of archives and objects will be encountered frequently and the process for dealing with these is for the County Archivist to process all material before passing object collections to BCMT for its specialist care following initial review. It is not anticipated that collections containing significant material unrelated to Paralympic heritage will be acquired.

4.  Limitations on collecting

The NPHT recognises its responsibility, in acquiring additions to its collections, to ensure that care of collections, documentation arrangements and use of collections will meet the requirements of the Accreditation Standard. It will take into account limitations on collecting imposed by such factors as staffing, storage and care of collection arrangements.

5.  Collecting policies of other bodies

The NPHT will take account of the collecting policies of other collecting institutions in the same or related areas or subject fields. It will consult with these organisations where conflicts of interest may arise or to define areas of specialism, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication and waste of resources.

Specific reference is made to the following museums collecting Paralympic or wider sports heritage material:

  • River & Rowing Museum, Henley
  • National Football Museum
  • Rugby Football Union Museum
  • Wimbledon
  • The Olympic Museum Lausanne
  • National Archives
  • Science Museum London
  • Wellcome Trust
  • And others identified in the Mapping Report 2016

6.  Policy review procedure

The acquisition and disposal policy will be published and reviewed from time to time, at least once every five years. The date when the policy is next due for review is noted above.

Arts Council England will be notified of any changes to the collections development policy and of the implications of any such changes for the future of existing collections.

7.  Acquisitions not covered by the policy

Acquisitions outside the current stated policy will only be made in very exceptional circumstances, and then only after proper consideration by the governing body of the NPHT itself, having regard to the interests of other collectors in the field.

8.  Acquisition procedures (for artefacts)

8.1 The NPHT will exercise due diligence and make every effort not to acquire, whether by purchase, gift, bequest or exchange, any object or specimen unless the governing body or responsible officer is satisfied that the NPHT can acquire a valid title to the item in question.

8.2 In particular, the NPHT will not acquire any object or specimen unless it is satisfied that the object or specimen has not been acquired in, or exported from, its country of origin (or any intermediate country in which it may have been legally owned) in violation of that country’s laws. (For the purposes of this paragraph ‘country of origin’ includes the United Kingdom).

8.3 In accordance with the provisions of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which the UK ratified with effect from November 1 2002, and the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003, the NPHT will reject any items that have been illicitly traded. The governing body will be guided by the national guidance on the responsible acquisition of cultural property issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2005.

8.4 So far as biological and geological material is concerned, the NPHT will not acquire by any direct or indirect means any specimen that has been collected, sold or otherwise transferred in contravention of any national or international wildlife protection or natural history conservation law or treaty of the United Kingdom or any other country, except with the express consent of an appropriate outside authority.

8.5 The NPHT will not acquire archaeological antiquities (including excavated ceramics) in any case where the governing body or responsible officer has any suspicion that the circumstances of their recovery involved a failure to follow the appropriate legal procedures. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the procedures include reporting finds to the landowner or occupier of the land and to the proper authorities in the case of possible treasure as defined by the Treasure Act 1996.

Any exceptions to the above clauses under section 8 will only be because the NPHT is:

  • acting as an externally approved repository of last resort for material of local (UK) origin
  • acquiring an item of minor importance that lacks secure ownership history but in the best judgement of experts in the field concerned has not been illicitly traded
  • acting with the permission of authorities with the requisite jurisdiction in the country of origin
  • in possession of reliable documentary evidence that the item was exported from its country of origin before 1970

In these cases the NPHT will be open and transparent in the way it makes decisions and will act only with the express consent of an appropriate outside authority.


9.  Acquisition procedures (for archives)

9.1 NPHT will abide by the CBS acquisitions policy and procedures at all times.

9.2 All collections should be received directly by the Collections Archivist or another representative of CBS, who will complete the required forms necessary for deposit.

9.3 No collections should be transferred to CBS without prior agreement and notification.

10.  Spoliation

The NPHT will use the statement of principles ‘Spoliation of Works of Art during the Nazi, Holocaust and World War II period’, issued for non-national museums in 1999 by the Museums and Galleries Commission.

11.  The Repatriation and Restitution of objects and human remains

It is not anticipated that material will be acquired that might be appropriately repatriated or which involves the care of human remains.

12.  Disposal procedures

12.1 Disposal preliminaries - the governing body will ensure that the disposal process is carried out openly and with transparency.

By definition, the NPHT collection has a long-term purpose and is held in trust for society in relation to its stated objectives. The governing body therefore accepts the principle that sound curatorial reasons for disposal must be established before consideration is given to the disposal of any items in the Trust’s collection.

The NPHT will confirm that it is legally free to dispose of an item and agreements on disposal made with donors will be taken into account.

When disposal of a NPHT owned object is being considered, NPHT will establish if it was acquired with the aid of an external funding organisation.  In such cases, any conditions attached to the original grant will be followed.  This may include repayment of the original grant and a proportion of the proceeds if the item is disposed of by sale.

12.2 Motivation for disposal and method of disposal

When disposal is motivated by curatorial reasons the procedures outlined in paragraphs 12.3 to 12.8 will be followed and the method of disposal may be by gift, sale or exchange.

The NPHT will not undertake disposal motivated principally by financial reasons.

12.3 The disposal decision-making process

When the disposal is motivated by curatorial reasons, the decision to dispose of material from the collections will be taken by the governing body only after full consideration of the reasons for disposal.  Other factors including the public benefit, the implications for the NPHT collections and collections held by museums and other organisations collecting the same material or in related fields will be considered.  External expert advice will be obtained and the views of stakeholders such as donors, researchers, local and source communities and others served by the museum will also be sought.

12.4 Responsibility for disposal decision-making

A decision to dispose of a specimen or object, whether by gift, exchange, sale or destruction (in the case of an item too badly damaged or deteriorated to be of any use for the purposes of the collections or for reasons of health and safety), will be the responsibility of the governing body of the NPHT acting on the advice of professional curatorial staff and not by their agents or by the curator of the collection acting alone.

12.5 Use of proceeds of sale

Any monies received by the NPHT governing body from the disposal of items will be applied for the benefit of the collections.  This normally means the purchase of further acquisitions.  In exceptional cases, improvements relating to the care of collections in order to meet or exceed Accreditation requirements relating to the risk of damage to and deterioration of the collections may be justifiable.  Any monies received in compensation for the damage, loss or destruction of items will be applied in the same way.  Advice on those cases where the monies are intended to be used for the care of collections will be sought from the Arts Council England.

The proceeds of a sale will be ring-fenced in the Collections Purchase Reserve Fund so it can be demonstrated that they are spent in a manner compatible with the requirements of the Accreditation standard.

12.6 Disposal by gift or sale

Once a decision to dispose of material in the collection has been taken, priority will be given to retaining it within the public domain, unless it is to be destroyed.  It will therefore be offered in the first instance, by gift or sale, directly to other Accredited Archives and Museums likely to be interested in its acquisition.

If the material is not acquired by any Accredited Archives and Museums to which it was offered directly as a gift or for sale, then the heritage community at large will be advised of the intention to dispose of the material, normally through an announcement on the Archives-NRA listserve or in the Museums Association’s Museums Journal, and in other specialist journals where appropriate.

The announcement relating to gift or sale will indicate the number and nature of specimens or objects involved, and the basis on which the material will be transferred to another institution.  Preference will be given to expressions of interest from other Accredited Archives and Museums. A period of at least two months will be allowed for an interest in acquiring the material to be expressed. At the end of this period, if no expressions of interest have been received, the museum may consider disposing of the material to other interested individuals and organisations giving priority to organisations in the public domain.

12.7 Disposal by exchange

The NPHT will not dispose of items by exchange.

12.8 Documenting disposal

Full records will be kept of all decisions on disposals and the items involved and proper arrangements made for the preservation and/or transfer, as appropriate, of the documentation relating to the items concerned, including photographic records where practicable in accordance with SPECTRUM Procedure on deaccession and disposal for objects or CBS’s own deaccessioning policy and procedure for archives.