Improper storage is dangerous to your museum’s collection. But designing a storage area can be a very complex task because there are so many things to take into account. Understanding how your collection is used and predicting the rate of growth will help you design the right museum collection storage space.
Museum Functions Dictate the Need for Collection Storage
The storage area is more than just an isolated space that has no affect on other museum functions. In fact, these functions – exhibition, education and research – actually dictate the need for collections rather than the collections existing as their own separate entities. When designing your museum’s collection storage space, these functions need to be taken into consideration so that everything comes together as a whole instead of separate pieces.
Review Collection Storage Requirements for Exhibition, Education and Research
Because there are many different ways a museum exhibits their collection, artifact storage needs to satisfy these particular requirements. For example short-term storage for temporary or seasonal exhibits will need to be different than long-term storage for permanent exhibits.
As far as collections for educational purposes, the different items will range from real objects to disposable items to everything in between. And these items will be cared for very differently than exhibition collection items.
Furthermore, collections that are used specifically for research will also have their own storage requirements. Certain items will be grouped together and will all range in size because they might belong to a specific time period or culture. These items will need storage that is very accommodating and flexible.
Making Room for Current and Future Collections: Construction is NOT the Solution
In addition to planning for the collection’s functions, museums need to plan for collection growth. Ensuring there is enough space in your museum storage area for both current and future collections is essential.
One way to accomplish this task is to construct more area than you actually need at the moment. However, in most situations adequate funding isn’t available for constructing the storage area you need right now for collections, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to raise money for something that will happen in the undetermined future. And this scenario doesn’t account for existing museums that already have a set storage area that cannot be added to.
Compact Mobile Storage Shelving Creates Storage Space for Collection Growth
The best solution is to use compact mobile storage shelving. This type of storage system will allow you to greatly expand your storage capacity within an existing space. The use of compact mobile storage shelving will increase the collection storage capacity by approximately 50% for many categories of objects, in essence eliminating the need for additional storage areas.
Everything Comes Together for an Oklahoma Museum’s Collection Storage Space
In fact, one of our museum storage specialists, Steve Story, recently worked with an Oklahoma museum that was constructing a new building. The building is housing the museum’s library and archives, containing more than 100,000 rare books, documents, maps, and unpublished works. Not only will the museum use these collections for research, they will also have exhibits and educational opportunities for the general public.
Understanding what the museum’s functions were going to be factored into the planning of the storage area. Steve was called in because the museum needed a solution to save on building costs. He provided them with compact mobile shelving. When compared to the static shelving the museum was originally planning to use, the compact mobile shelving saved the museum 40% of their storage floor space, increased collection storage capacity, and improved security for stored items.
Contact Us for Help with Your Museum’s Collection Storage Space
Your museum’s function in combination with your collection’s rate of growth will affect your storage area. Careful planning and the right storage equipment will make all the difference.
Southwest Solutions Group® has been helping museums store their collections since 1969. We offer a variety of products and services including compact mobile storage shelving, specialty cabinets, art racks, and more that will meet your specific needs. To learn more about our storage solutions, visit our museum storage division. To speak with a specialist, give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message.