Medium 9781442267770

Collections Vol 7 N2

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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12 Articles

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A Note from the Editor

ePub

With this issue of the journal, readers are in for a treat. In serving as guest editor, Greg Lambousy (Director of Collections at the Louisiana State Museum) has assembled a fantastic range of articles that address the theme of “Collections Moves.” The impetus to spearhead this effort came as a result of a series of emails between Greg and me — correspondence that, interestingly, grew from Greg’s response to Dee A. Stubbs-Lee’s article entitled “Inside Out: A Conservator’s Investigation of Museums, Visible Storage, and the Interpretation of Conservation”, a study that appeared in volume 5, number 4 of the journal. Through subsequent emails and conversations, Greg and I discussed topics that would be of interest to the readership. He suggested collections moves and here we are.

As to histories and causes, collections moves may come as a result of tragedy or damage, but they might also be precipitated by opportunities that aim to foreground, showcase, or draw attention to the collections themselves. Moreover, collections moves may provide an occasion to improve storage or exhibit mounts in addition the ability to enhance and expand photographic documentation, database records, and many other aspects of collections care.

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A Note from the Guest Editor

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The Louisiana State Museum has had two large-scale collection moves within the past decade. In 2002 we moved our costume & textile, science & technology, decorative arts, paintings, photography, and print collections to a new 33,000 square foot storage facility in the New Orleans French Quarter. We had time to plan for the move and inventory the collections before beginning. We were also able to purchase a new truck for the project to move the collections from their previous locations in two of our historic properties within the French Quarter — a distance of about four city blocks. The move was accomplished by members of the collections division staff including two registrars and five curators. No contract assistance was hired for the move.

Shortly thereafter, nature forced us to action. In late 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. There was minimal wind damage to Louisiana State Museum properties in the French Quarter. For example, at the Presbytere, one of our properties on Jackson Square in the heart of the city, a new cupola withstood the weather. Because the original cupola had been damaged by hurricanes and removed around 1900, we were surprised to see that the new cupola, though not completely finished, had made it without damage through the storm.

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Procurement: Some Thoughts on this Unheralded yet Essential Element of a Successful Collections Project

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T. Ashley McGrew

Publications Chair of Preparation, Art Handling, and Collections Care Information Network (PACCIN), ashley@pacin.org

I have yet to meet anyone whose goal in life is to become a master of move project procurement, but I do know from experience that this unheralded, yet essential element of project management goes a long way towards furthering a fully successful end result. Though I would never claim to have a comprehensive grasp on this topic there are a few things I’ve noticed along the way. When you think about what you need to make a project happen it seems obvious that you need stuff. What may not be so apparent is the number of choices you will have to make in regard to that stuff and also how interrelated it is to other aspects of a well-run project.

Initial decisions

Certain crucial decisions must be sorted out before the money can be spent (or mis-spent as the case may be). Questions to answer such as what are the needs of the collection being packed or re-housed (function), how will the materials be used to accomplish this task (prototyping), what will the scope of the project (small or large — diverse or consistent), who will be doing the purchasing and how will they accomplish it, and planning of space for both supplies and work areas.

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Planning Is Everything: Fostering Success for On-site Collection Moves

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Nicolette B. Meister

Curator of Collections, Logan Museum of Anthropology, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Museum Studies, Beloit College, 700 College Street, Beloit, WI 53511, phone: 608-363-2305;fax 608-363-7144; email: meistern@beloit.edu

William Green

Director, Logan Museum of Anthropology, Chair, Museum Studies Program, and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Beloit College, 700 College Street, Beloit, WI 53511, phone: 608-363-2119; fax 608-363-7144; email: greenb@beloit.edu

Abstract Improving preservation of and access to collections is recognized as a national priority in the U.S. Such improvements often require moving and rehousing collections. Careful planning for move projects is essential even when collections are relocated within renovated existing storage areas. We offer a case study of a rehousing project that required moving over 300,000 objects. A long-range preservation plan, informed by collections assessments and the museum’s overall mission and strategic plan, guided all stages of the project. Planning included inventories, a pilot project, and research on other institutions’ move projects. The project plan specified collection packing, moving, temporary storage, and tracking procedures as well as specifications for the new storage systems. The plan allowed modifications during project implementation to handle unanticipated complications. The improvement of physical preservation and access facilitated the next step of the long-range plan: implementation of a data management system to improve intellectual control and access.

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The Re-housing and Return of the Louisiana State Museum’s Collections

ePub

Allison Mccloskey

Assistant Conservator of Textiles and Objects, Williamstown Art Conservation Center, 227 South Street, Williamstown, MA 01267; phone: 413-458-5741; fax: 413-458-2314; email: amccloskey@williamstownart.org

Abstract A team led by conservators from Williamstown Art Conservation Center prepared and moved collections from the Louisiana State Museum that had previously been evacuated to an off-site storage facility following Hurricane Katrina. From December 2007 through June 2008, team members documented, assessed, stabilized, and packed a wide variety of collections objects. These included musical instruments, records, archives from the Louisiana History Center, decorative arts, and science and technology artifacts. Housings that served for both transport and storage were made to reduce handling where possible. Modular systems including rolling carts and trays sized to be compatible with the storage shelving were implemented for efficiency. Cost-effective commercially available materials made of archivally sound materials were used where appropriate. Over 200,000 objects in all were moved into the improved storage areas.

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Relocating the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, UCL

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Mark Carnall, Curator

Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, Rockefeller Building, University College London, 21 University Street, London, WC1E 6DE ENGLAND; phone: (+44) 020 3108 2052; email: mark.carnall@ucl.ac.uk

Natasha McEnroe, Director

The Florence Nightingale Museum, 2 Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7EW ENGLAND; phone: (+44) 020 7620 0374; email: natasham@florence-nightingale.co.uk

Abstract Relocating the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy presented its staff with a series of complex challenges. Part of University College London, the Grant is a university museum operating in an academic context with teaching commitments and an events schedule that needed to continue during the relocation of the museum. Many of the 70,000 specimens in the collection are rare and fragile, and for some, their sheer size made them difficult to pack and transport. In addition to requiring expertise on caring for the collection when it was at its most vulnerable, the Grant Museum team also needed to be experts in negotiation, advocacy and be aware of the political undercurrents found in any large academic institution.

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Proud and Exhausted: Recounting the Move of the Archives of Ontario to a New Facility

ePub

Dee Psaila

Senior Conservator, Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C5 CANADA; phone: 416-327-1520; email: denise.psaila@ontario.ca

Abstract The Archives of Ontario move in 2009 was not only the largest move of the collection to date, but also the most ambitious and complex. In addition to the physical challenges of packing and transporting irreplaceable historical items, the move gave the institution the opportunity to go through each item in the collection to improve our overall intellectual control. The move to the Archives new facility was the beginning of the best chapter in the history of the second largest archival collection in Canada, resulting in a custom designed facility with ideal temperature and humidity controls that provides the highest level of physical and interactive service to the public.

The Archives of Ontario has been collecting, preserving and providing access to the province’s history since 1903. Our multi-faceted collections include Ontario Government records, genealogical records, photographs, architectural drawings, film and sound recordings, and the Government of Ontario Art Collection. Our holdings date back to 1729, and grow by 15,000 cubic feet per year. In its 108-year history, the Archives has been moved a total of six times. Prior to the new location on the York University campus, the Archives of Ontario was located at 77 Grenville Street in downtown Toronto.

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A Partnership of Peoples: Renewal of the Collections Infrastructure at the UBC Museum of Anthropology

ePub

Krista Bergstrom, Nancy Bruegeman, Susan Buchanan, Shabnam Honarbakhsh, Heidi Swierenga, and Mauray Toutloff

Contact information: Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, 6393 NW Marine Dr., Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z2 CANADA, Fax: 604-822-2974

Primary contact: Heidi Swierenga, Conservator, CREP Lead, heidi. swierenga@ubc.ca, Tel: 604-822-2981; Krista Bergstrom, Collections Research Facilitator, krista.bergstrom@ubc.ca; Nancy Bruegeman, Collections Manager, nancy.bruegeman@ubc.ca; Susan Buchanan, Collections and Loans Coordinator, susan.buchanan@ubc.ca; Shabnam Honarbakhsh, Acting Conservator, shabnam.honarbakhsh@ubc.ca; Mauray Toutloff, Conservator, mauray.toutloff@ubc.ca

Abstract From the spring of 2004 to the spring of 2010, the UBC Museum of Anthropology underwent a major expansion and renovation project, which included updating its collections infrastructure. This article discusses the Collections Research Enhancement aspects of the project, with specific reference to: object tracking, packing, mount making, object storage, and object access. The project resulted in increased access for researchers and community members both at the museum and virtually.

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Storage of the Radioactive Mineral Collections at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, UK

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Jan Freedman

Curator of Natural History, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 BAJ, ENGLAND; phone: +44 (0)1752 30 4774; email: janjreedman@plymouth.gov.uk

Abstract Devon and Cornwall, in the South West of Britain, have a rich variety of rare and beautiful minerals formed through millions of years of geological change. Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery (PCMAG), in Devon, holds over 10,000 mineral specimens from rare and unique sites across Devon and Cornwall. Held within the main mineral collection at PCMAG are 139 radioactive minerals. This paper explores the best practice for storing the radioactive mineral collection safely in the workplace, minimising any potential hazard and risk to staff and researchers. Included in this paper are examples of how other museums have stored their radioactive minerals safely and includes relevant legislation. The storage project also allowed the opportunity to digitally image the entire radioactive mineral collection permitting PCMAG’s database to be updated with images and new storage information. PCMAG worked closely with a Radiation Protection Advisor for advice and also appointed three Radiation Protection Supervisors to monitor access to the collections and reduce any potential risk further.

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North by Midwest: Moving the World Chess Hall of Fame and Museum from Miami to St. Louis

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Bradley Bailey

Assistant Professor of Art History, Saint Louis University, Department of Fine and Performing Arts, Xavier Hall 168, 3733 West Pine Mall, Saint Louis, MO 63108; phone: 314-977-3396; email: bbailelO@slu.edu

Abstract After seven years of commendably representing the rich history of chess in Miami, Florida, the World Chess Hall of Fame and Museum is scheduled to re-open its doors in St. Louis, Missouri in September 2011. The road to St. Louis has been a long and winding one for this young institution, which counts its new home as the fourth in its relatively brief twenty-seven year history. From its modest beginnings in a basement in New Windsor, New York to a new multimillion-dollar facility in St. Louis’ upscale shopping and dining district, the hall of fame has had to adapt to a number of different spaces and environments, all the while maintaining its mission to commemorate the game’s greatest players, as well as to educate visitors about the long and remarkable history of the game and the impact it has had on cultures worldwide. After a brief look at the origins of the World Chess Hall of Fame and Museum, this essay will explore how the museum came to move from Miami to St. Louis, the procedures used to make this transition as organized and efficient as possible, and the obstacles the organizers have faced—and will face—in the months leading up to and following the opening in fall 2011.

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Moving Collections and Moving On at the Norwalk Historical Society

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Laura A. Macaluso

Independent Scholar, 34 High Street, Milford, CT, 06460; email: lauramacaluso@sbcglobal.net

Abstract This essay describes the results of a recent collections moving project at a small historical society in Connecticut. While a daunting task for a small board and even smaller professional staff, the effort directed towards the move ended up spilling out into other areas of historic site development, resulting in new ideas and new partnerships across the city. Though the final product was much different than was originally anticipated, the flexibility and enthusiasm of the board members allowed for plans to evolve out of the initial collections move project, which will sustain the direction of the organization for years to come.

This special journal topic has offered me a moment to reflect on a recent move undertaken by the Norwalk Historical Society, in Norwalk, Connecticut. As a cultural heritage consultant I was brought on to the project after the Executive Director (and only paid staff member) left for another position. The project was grant-funded, and thus work had to be completed within a one-year time frame. Fortunately, with some foresight, a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, the project to move collections was completed on time. My goal in writing this is to capture a sense of “can-do” that small historical societies, when faced with daunting projects and almost no paid staff, can accomplish many good things. The use of traditional best practices combined with new ways of enticing much needed volunteer and intern labor is at the heart of this project.

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Reflections a Decade Later...

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Jackie Hoff

Director, Collection Services, The Science Museum of Minnesota, 120 West Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102; phone: 651-221-9435; email: jhoff@smm.org

This story is set in the mid 1990’s and the museum was going to move into a new building. We had lots of collections to get from point A to point B and not much time. I remember my boss telling me that we had five years and by the end of that same week we had two. As crazy as it sounded at the time, I must say that this was one the best projects I had the pleasure to work on. This brought lots of opportunity for those in charge as well as many a long night hoping the planning was done properly. I was one of the lucky ones who got to help with this move of approximately 1.75 million objects. I don’t use that count lightly as there had not been an inventory of the collections at that time. I would like to share some of the more vivid memories I have of working on such a big project then to how we are living with those decisions more than a decade later in our current building.

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