In common with many other museums, IWM disposes of items from its Collections from time to time. Often this is done through dispersal of objects to other museums. This process is complex and calls upon the expertise of many members of staff.

What do we mean by 'disposal'?

'Disposal' refers to the permanent removal of an item from the Collections, which are owned by IWM’s Board of Trustees. Items can be disposed of by giving them to other museums, exchange, sale or planned destruction (in the case of an item too badly damaged or deteriorated to be of any use or on the grounds of health and safety).

Disposal decision-making

The decision to dispose of or transfer an accessioned item in our Collections is the result of a rigorous process. This is detailed below.

  • The curator/archivist/ librarian reviews items within a collection and may recommend some disposals to the Collections Review Committee.
  • The Committee looks at the recommendations very carefully, in the context of the collection, and decides if it should recommend the disposal. The Committee usually considers proposed disposals twice to allow for thorough assessment.
  • If a disposal is recommended by the Committee it has to be approved by the Board of Trustees and others within IWM.
  • We seek expert advice to make sure appropriate information is available on the object proposed for disposal.
  • Where required, approval from the Secretary of State, DCMS is sought.

Please note the process can vary depending upon the method of disposal.

Consent to disposal

Disposals of accessioned material (other than duplicate items) require the consent of the Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport or their designated authorities.

For more information on disposal, please see our FAQs page and our Collections Development Policy.