Date of Graduation

Winter 12-15-2018

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Museum Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Museum Studies

First Advisor

Marjorie Schwarzer

Second Advisor

Karren Shorofsky


In 2001 the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) published The AAM Guide to Provenance Research. However, in the past seventeen years there have been several new developments in the provenanceresearchfield, and an updated guide has yet to be released. I propose that several changes be made to create an updated version. For this project, I tested this guide in two ways: first, to see how our understanding of provenance has changed since 2001 and second, to use a case study to assess whether the recommended basic research guide and principles still apply to today.

In the first section of this capstone, I review several of the significant changes that have influenced provenance research. I begin by examining the standards and ethics related to provenance, as determined by the museum field. I then observed how provenance has changed as it relates to legalchanges, both foreign and domestic; and developments of technologyand databases and theirinfluence on provenance.

The focus of the next section is on basic provenance research guidelines and principles as outlined in the AAM Guide to Provenance Research. I tested how these practices withstand the changes in provenance several years after the guide’s publication, asking if the practices can be applied to works found in collectionsand if they can work within the shifting definition of provenance, which embraces the concept of a cultural biography of an object. My case study was part of a costume from the ballet Coppéliaperformed by the San Francisco Ballet found in the collection of the Museum of Performance + Design.