ramed artwork on wire panels for exhibit at a museumImproper 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.

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.

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artifacts stored in mobile shelving for educational purposes1. 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.

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

Research 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.


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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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Museum Testimonials


“I want to thank your entire team for the outstanding work on our art storage project. The process from beginning to end was smooth and enjoyable, and the finished room looks terrific! Chester, Bryan, Chris, Chris, and the other members were extremely thorough and a pleasure to work with. They followed our house rules and took our direction very well. Thanks again for an outstanding project, and I look forward to working with Southwest Solutions in the future should the opportunity arise. ”

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
San antonio museum of art

“The new art racks are massive and beautiful! I cannot wait to hang art on the racks with those fancy hooks, wow! Thank you for helping me see the project through. The efforts of your team and installation really made the project go very smoothly and on time. We look forward to showing off the new and improved art storage room to our Director, Board Members, and Staff. Thanks a million, it has been a pleasure to work with you and your wonderful team on our paintings storage area.”

San Antonio Museum of Art

“I would like to thank you and your team at Southwest Solutions Group for working with the museum so diligently over the years. I also want to thank you personally for your patience, professionalism and great attitude as we’ve navigated the sometimes bumpy road to completing the Blanton Phase I and Phase II. Southwest Solutions Group will certainly be at the very top of my list for any future museum storage needs.”

Blanton Museum of Art

“Southwest Solutions Group is an amazing company made so much better by having Daryl at the helm of Museum and Library storage space saving designs in the NW. Daryl is not only an expert in high density shelving systems, but he consistently tunes into optimizing long term solutions to complex storage needs and pliable projects. Always reliable and knowledgeable, Daryl and his Spacesaver’s team have been indispensable partners in our world of cultural preservation.”

Seattle Art Museum

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