Using the project resources

This site aims to be a resource for those who are caring for and managing collections of time-based media works of art. Currently two sections of the Matters in Media Art project are available. The first is concerned with the acquisition of time-based media works of art and the second section with loaning them.


This phase is divided into three sections: Pre-acquisition, Accessioning and Post-acquisition.

The process diagram

For the process diagram, we chose to use circles to demonstrate the different phases, as the process is not entirely linear and involves concurrent activities and feedback. We also wanted to convey the sense of a snowball effect – where information was gathered throughout the process.

  • The pre-acquisition phase is when you gather the information necessary in order to make an informed decision.
  • The accessioning phase is the phase where the necessary legal transactions are undertaken and you make sure that everything is received that was agreed on as part of the purchase.
  • The post acquisition phase is where you integrate the work into your collection and prepare it for a life as part of your collection.

Information about a work starts to be gathered at the pre-acquisition stage and carries on for the life of the work in your collection. To mark the end of the accessioning process, we introduced the idea of the work being integrated into your collection to the point where a baseline is established and the work can be displayed and loaned.


Owing to pressures of the market the pre-acquisition phase may be very short; however the goal is to be able to present enough information about the work and its associated costs that an informed decision can be made. Circumstances may dictate the extent to which this is possible. For example, if a work is being bought at auction it may be important that your interest or the interest of your institution is confidential. It is as important to identify unresolved questions that you were not able to answer during the pre-acquisition phase.

To provide pointers for questions to ask at this stage we include prompts and explanations in the text, and include three templates. These templates are Installation specifications, Structure and condition reports and Cost assessment. The Installations specifications and Structure and condition reports templates are very detailed and you would not be expected to have completed them at this stage but they provide a platform for information you need to start gathering. The Cost assessment template is very important as time-based media works of art have many hidden costs associated with archiving and display; in fact these costs may be more than the artwork itself. It is therefore important to anticipate them when considering an acquisition.


For accessioning, in many cases an invoice will be sufficient and a full acquisition agreement will not be necessary. However in other cases a purchase agreement is useful or necessary. We therefore provided a template for a Purchase agreement and also a Deed of gift. A Copyright agreement is always useful to secure at acquisition as it can be time consuming to return to the artist each time you want to reproduce an image or clear the use of a clip in promotional material etc. A Copyright agreement template is therefore provided.


The Post-acquisition phase is when you create a record for the work and ensure you have images to represent it and integrate it into your collection management system so that it is ready to be used for display, loan or research.


Templates are provided to the right-hand side of the relevant text within the three sections. These are all provided in rich text format except for the Cost assessment template which is in Excel. The templates are designed so that you can download them and edit them to suit your own needs. They are to be treated merely as a starting point for your own modifications.


This phase is divided into three sections:

  • Explore, Compile and Review – this section is concerned with planning and research.
  • Request, Consider and Approve – this section is concerned with negotiation.
  • Send, Install and Return – this section is concerned with implementation.

The details of these activities are described in the process guidelines. A number of templates are accessible within the process guidelines. They are downloaded as either Word documents or Excel spreadsheets. They are designed to be edited and modified for your own purpose.

  • Budget guidelines and templates
  • Loan agreement guidelines and templates
  • Facilities report guidelines and templates
  • Installation documentation guidelines and templates
  • Condition report guidelines and templates


We welcome your feedback, so please email any thoughts to Pip Laurenson, Head of Collection Care Research, Tate: