The mission of a museum goes beyond just exhibiting its best pieces for visitors; a museum’s purpose is also to collect, preserve, and interpret items of historical and cultural significance as well as exhibit them. In truth, most museums are only able to showcase small portions of their collections to the public. The majority of their pieces must be safely and securely stored. But what does the right type of artifact storage look like?
The answer to that question depends on the type of artifacts in a museum’s collection, the storage needs of the artifacts, the space limitations of the museum, and the overall storage goals of the museum itself. Ideally, a museum storage system is customized to the size, shape, and needs of its collection. That same system also ideally optimizes storage space so a museum can continue to grow.
At Southwest Solutions, we believe that museum artifact storage is a public good, allowing museums to preserve important historical pieces and records of our past and present cultural inheritance. That’s why we want to share eight of our unique and innovative storage solutions just for museums.
1. High-Density Museum Storage
One of the most popular forms of museum storage is high-density mobile shelving. The system places your existing shelves or new shelves on tracks that allow the shelves to slide together. The beauty of high-density museum storage is that the shelves eliminate unused aisle space, increasing your storage capability by over 50 percent.
If you already have shelves specially designed for your artifacts, you can place them on the tracks or purchase customized shelving. Believe it not, you can store almost anything on high-density shelving, from small figurines to large pieces of historical furniture. (You may want to consider bulk storage racks for larger items.)
The shelves come with a range of features and designs. If you don’t need to access your archives often, choose a hand-crank wheel to move the shelves. If you want faster access, you can design more aisles into the system and choose the electric push-button feature to move the shelves. Either way, high-density shelving is incredibly versatile and can give you the space to keep growing your collection without resorting to off-site storage.
2. Artwork Storage Racks
If you need to store frame paintings, drawings, photography, or other flat art, then storage art racks built for these items are an ideal solution for your museum. Artwork racks can store pieces that range in size and width in numerous ways, from storage cubbies to pull-out art panels, wall-mounted panels, and visible display racks that you can even place in your exhibits. High-density storage can also be adapted for artwork, with special racking that can hold multiple pieces. All these options will keep valuable artwork off the ground and protect it from damaging elements.
3. Garment Storage
From historical clothing to famous movie costumes, many museums need to store important garments. However, garments are especially vulnerable to time. Sunlight bleaches away dyes, while moisture eats away at the organic materials. Consider special shelving designed to hold many different types of garments. These garment storage racks can be designed with a single hanging rack to hang dresses and full-body suits or two rows of hanging racks for singular items, like tops or bottoms. The shelves can even be designed with drawers, pull-out trays, and shoe shelves for extra accessories. You can also incorporate these shelves into a high-density mobile storage system, allowing you to store more clothing.
4. Entomology Cabinets
Insects are a fascinating and integral part of our ecosystem, and they deserve to be preserved and studied. But how can a museum effectively store such small and delicate samples? Believe it or not, storage for entomology samples does exist. These entomology storage solutions include cabinet systems and drawers, all designed for small storage. The cabinets and drawers can also keep delicate samples out of the sun and out of harm’s way.
5. Herbarium & Botany Storage Cabinets
Like insect samples, plant specimens can be extremely delicate and vulnerable to damage. Fortunately, the right museum storage system can include secure museum storage cabinets and drawers that make it easy to preserve plant samples. These botany storage cabinets offer a secure seal that can keep out light, water, rodents, and other damaging materials.
6. Geology Cabinets
Rocks and fossils tell the story of our world and all the creatures who have lived before us. It is crucial to preserve this record in the form of geological and fossil samples. However, these artifacts are vulnerable to water, rodents, dust, and sunlight. Geology storage cabinets and shelves can be customized to store even the smallest and most delicate samples, while larger cabinets can preserve bigger fossils and geological samples.
7. Flat File Cabinets
Do you wish to store historical documents, maps, blueprints, negatives, or historical articles? Bending, folding, or rolling up old papers can irreparably damage them. Flat file cabinets are the ideal solution, allowing you to store these delicate pieces flat in secure drawers so the elements and curious critters can’t damage them. Pull-out compartments make it easy for staff or researchers to access these pieces.
8. Archival Storage
Archival documents like newspapers, diaries, and census records are important relics, but they take up a lot of space. Archival storage is ideal for keeping these pieces safe while also optimizing space. A combination of storage shelves designed for archival boxes and a high-density mobile storage system can help you safely store your archive documents – including your own museum records – without ceding too much space in your museum for shelving.
What Museum Storage Is Right for You?
Most museum collections include many items, from paintings to records, significant artifacts, and more. The right museum storage system for you may consist of different shelving and organizational systems. Not sure where to begin? Contact us and talk to a friendly and knowledgeable representative today. We want to hear more about your needs, budget, and space allowance. Then, our talented design team will create an artifact storage plan just for you, while our installation team ensures that your shelving units are ready to secure and protect your pieces, whether you need drawers for tiny fossils and insects or bulk storage racks for large sculptures and more. At Southwest Solutions, we can help you keep your collection in pristine shape now and into the future.