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Last updated: March 15, 2017

Improper storage is dangerous to your museum’s collection. For the future of all museums, it’s imperative that steps be taken to improve storage practices and facilities. Understanding different factors that influence how your collection is used will help you design the right storage area for your museum.

ramed artwork on wire panels for exhibit at a museum

How Each Function Relates to Museum Collection Storage

A storage facility is more than an isolated unit that has no affect on other museum functions. And in fact, these functions – exhibition, education and research – are what dictate the need for collections rather than the collections existing as their own separate entities. When designing the storage area, these functions need to be taken into consideration so that everything comes together as a whole instead of separate pieces.

artifacts stored in mobile shelving for educational purposes

1. Exhibition

Because there are many different ways a museum exhibits their collection, artifact storage needs to satisfy these particular requirements. Artifacts used in permanent exhibits that require short-term storage will need a different type of storage system than ones that are only used occasionally in temporary or seasonal exhibits. In addition, rotating artifacts within a permanent exhibit creates an entirely separate need for more efficient storage and retrieval systems. 

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2. Education

The artifacts used for educational purposes might be very different from the ones used for exhibition. For example, some educational programs will use real objects for lectures and classroom programs while disposable materials will be used for classroom projects. Each of these types of objects will have different storage needs.

3. Research

large sculptures for research stored in custom sized shelvesResearch at a museum is very diverse, which affects how artifacts are stored and retrieved. Case in point, anthropological researchers might arrange their collection into cultural groupings. These groupings allow the researcher to browse in one part of the storage area that contains a single culture’s entire collection. But because the artifacts within a single culture vary so much in size, flexible storage is needed.

Help Designing Storage for Your Museum’s Collection

It’s apparent that a museum’s function, whether it’s exhibition, education, research, or a combination of the three, affects it’s collection storage requirements. For a good storage area design to work properly, careful planning and consideration of how these functions are carried out will need to be addressed.

Southwest Solutions Group® has been helping museums store their collections since 1969. We offer a variety of products and services including compact shelving, specialty cabinets, mobile racking, art racks, and more that will meet your specific needs. To speak with a specialist, give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message.


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