Collection Storage

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Good storage is the foundation of effective collection care, advancing conservation while at the same time promoting accessibility and use. Preventive Conservation: Collection Storage covers the storage of all types of collections, including science, fine and decorative art, history, library, archive, and digital collections. The volume discusses all aspects of collection storage, from planning and assessment, through building design and facilities management, to storage furniture and specimen housing. It concentrates on preventive conservation and emphasizes a risk management approach. Reflecting the breadth of its scope, the new book is collaboration between The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, The American Institute for Conservation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Museum Studies Program of George Washington University
Edited by Lisa Elkin and Christopher A. Norris
The book is now available through AIC's online store.
Details: Trim size 7 x 10; 944 pages; full color. ISBN 978-0-9978679-2-3. $95 hardcover.


Preventive conservation is a collaborative endeavor that can only succeed when all stakeholders—whether within the institution or beyond its walls—are actively engaged with collections. It has evolved from being the domain of conservators and collection care staff, often working in relative isolation, to a discipline that requires a more dynamic, interdisciplinary approach. In order to be truly successful, preventive conservation must include increased engagement with a variety of people, some of whom may not even work at the museum. Knowledge gathered through consultations and crowdsourcing can help museums better organize storage and broaden interpretation, making collections more relevant and accessible. Interdisciplinary partnerships within the museum itself are also vital; identifying partners at all levels of the institution and getting them engaged will ultimately benefit the collections. Finally, preventive conservation must also address physical and chemical deterioration. A comprehensive conservation program that includes preventive care, treatment, research, and documentation will increase access, use, and preservation of collections. In combination, the chapters in this section demonstrate that preventive conservation cannot be conducted in isolation but instead requires a holistic, inclusive approach. It is fundamental that collection storage aid in preserving collections for the future while increasing accessibility and engagement today.

Chapter 1: Respectful and Responsible Stewardship: Maintaining and Renewing the Cultural Relevance of Museum Collections - Sanchita Balachandran and Kelly McHugh

Chapter 2: Building Internal Partnerships for Collection Care - Dieter Fenkart-Fröschl and Christopher A. Norris

Chapter 3: A Preventive Conservation Approach to the Storage of Collections - Carolyn L. Rose, Catharine A. Hawks, and Robert Waller

Assessment and Planning

Collection storage, if done properly, will ensure the ongoing accessibility and utility of collection objects, while mitigating the various risks that jeopardize that goal. Hence, all storage projects should begin with a process of assessment: what types of items does the collection contain; what are these items used for; what hazards pose signifi cant risks to collections; and how much will those risks impact usefulness of collections? Th is section begins with a risk analysis approach to understanding collection requirements. It establishes expectations for how features and characteristics of building design and operation impact preservation and safe access. Collection- care surveys provide foundational information about the state of collections and the eff ects of past and current collection care practices. For many reasons, buildings, as well as collections, can be worthy of preservation. How to adapt existing or historic buildings for eff ective collection storage is both a challenge and an opportunity. Th e building or renovation planning process is itself demanding. It is a complex sequence of events involving multiple stakeholders. For collection care professionals to be most eff ective in contributing to design, it is essential to understand the process, learning when and where they can most eff ectively contribute. Functional planning serves as a basis for ensuring design and construction phases remain focused

Chapter 4: Collection Risk Assessment - Robert Waller

Chapter 5: Collection-Care Surveys for Preventive Conservation - Joel Taylor

Chapter 6: Balancing Collection Storage with Historic Buildings - Nancy McCoy

Chapter 7: Building Project Process - Walt Crimm

Chapter 8: Functional Planning for Collection Storage - Michael Lundholm

Creating and Renovating Storage Facilities

The creation and renovation of collection storage areas involves far more than just finding a room that will accommodate the storage furniture. It requires good communication throughout the process of integrating storage design and function. It must address identification and mitigation of risks to collections. It should consider the interdependency of external climate, the building envelope, space occupancy, and the building’s mechanical systems in order to achieve a balanced and stable collection storage environment. The susceptibility of collection materials to light, fire, and theft will play a key part in the selection of appropriate systems to be put in place, while still supporting accessibility. Finally the safe and effi cient movement of objects and specimens into the space after construction is completed requires careful planning and execution. Despite all this, improvements to storage, whether for large or small collections, can be done on even a limited budget by assessing the actual risks the collection faces, then looking for ways to eliminate, reduce, or ameliorate the chances of damage. Taken together, the chapters in this section combine new information with long-established collection storage standards to provide a framework for creating or renovating facilities that fosters preservation and access for collections of any size.

Chapter 9: Design of Storage Facilities - Walt Crimm

Chapter 10: Environmental Management and Related Systems - Walter Henry

Chapter 11: Illumination for Collection Storage - Paul Himmelstein, Scott Rosenfeld, and Steven Weintraub

Chapter 12: Fire Protection for Collection Spaces - Jeffrey LaSalle and Bryan L. Stemen

Chapter 13: Securing Your Collections - Steven R. Keller

Chapter 14: Managing a Collection Move: Planning, Packing, and Logistics - Heather Thorwald, Gretchen Anderson, Lori Benson, Jude Southward, Annette L. Van Aken, and Russell D. White

Facility Management

No matter how well designed, constructed, or renovated, no facility can provide an appropriate space for collections unless it is managed and maintained properly. Successful management requires a comprehensive understanding of the codes, regulations, and standards that apply to the building; the requirements of the various user groups; and the plans and well-trained staff necessary to properly operate the facility. Ongoing evaluation and mitigation of risks in areas such as disaster response, integrated pest management, or staff safety is required; this will have synergistic effects for the safety of collections. Th ere must be clearly outlined plans for running the facility during normal day-to day operations or during emergency events; these plans must be continually updated and staff trained to implement them. Finally, collaboration among administrators, collection staff , and facility staff is essential. Th e chapters in this section demonstrate how sound-facility management forms the backbone of preventive conservation in collection storage and requires diverse stakeholder participation and broad support to be successful.

Chapter 15: Facility Management: The Partnership with Collection Preservation - Jeff Joplin

Chapter 16: Emergency Management - Rebecca Fifield

Chapter 17: Safety and Health Issues within Storage Spaces - Kathryn A. Makos, David Hinkamp, and James R. Smith Jr.

Chapter 18: Integrated Pest Management for Museum Collections - Thomas Strang, Jeremy Jacobs, and Rika Kigawa

Chapter 19: Environmental Monitoring - Konstantinos Ntanos and W. (Bill) Wei

Chapter 20: Air Quality, Monitoring, and Management - Peter Brimblecombe

Specialized Collection Environments & Care

Providing environments that are sustainable, while still promoting collection preservation, relies on understanding the mechanisms by which environmental agents can damage specific materials and designing solutions to meet specific needs. The goals of both sustainability and preservation are not mutually exclusive. Creative approaches to macro- and microenvironments are available to effectively and efficiently suit the needs of many collection materials and are applicable in facilities of any size. In some cases, collections may require temperatures well below ambient conditions, from cool to cryogenic. In others, storage in fluids of various kinds is used to create specialized environments for preservation. Institutions may wish to expand access to the collections for a greater variety of audiences through the creation of visible storage or provide increased space for growth and specialized care by developing off site storage facilities. Th ey may have to tackle the challenges of maintaining certain types of collections outside a fully enclosed building. Finally, institutions may face the especially sensitive topic of how we care for each other, through the acquisition and appropriate management of human remains in collections. Th e chapters in this section explore the types of specialized environments that foster preservation of such disparate collections.

Chapter 21: Specialized Macroclimates and Microclimates: Options for the Control of Temperature, Relative Humidity, and Pollutants - Steven Weintraub

Chapter 22: Low Temperature Storage - Frank P. Simione

Chapter 23: Storage in Fluid Preservatives - John E. Simmons

Chapter 24: Visible Storage - Linda Edquist and Claire F. Larkin

Chapter 25: Off-Site Storage - Doris A. Hamburg

Chapter 26: Outdoor Storage Situations - George Prytulak

Chapter 27: Storage of Human Remains - Nancy Odegaard and Vicki Cassman

Storage Equipment and Materials

No matter if it is a vast, encyclopedic collection or a small, highly specialized one, effective collection preservation requires a series of decisions to select the most suitable products for storing different types of materials. This begins with the selection of well designed storage furniture that not only protects the collection, but also aids in its organization and access. Of equal importance is the creation of object housing that uses space efficiently and expends resources carefully. Th e selection of appropriate materials for use with collections can be a complex and intimidating task, whether these are polymers, wood and wood products, or other types of cellulosic storage materials. Any material being considered for use in storage must be evaluated for possible interactions between the collection objects and their environment. Finally, there must be a clear rationale for why and how to mark or label collection objects and specimens, whether by writing or by attaching machine-readable tags or other embedded media. The chapters in this section present readers with best practices, new technologies, and future directions in this area.

Chapter 28: Storage Furniture - Barbara P. Moore, Jeffrey C. Weatherston, Russell D. White, and Stephen L. Williams

Chapter 29: Support and Rehousing for Collection Storage - Rachael Perkins Arenstein, Lisa Goldberg, and Eugenie Milroy

Chapter 30: Evaluating Materials Used for Collection Storage - Pamela Hatchfield

Chapter 31: Wood and Related Products - Pamela Hatchfield

Chapter 32: Paper-Based Storage Materials - Fenella G. France

Chapter 33: Plastic Storage Products - R. Scott Williams

Chapter 34: Marking Collections - Nora Sharon Lockshin

Storage of Digital Collections

Whether creating digital assets as surrogates of originals, utilizing electronic data sets for research, preserving e-mails, or conserving time-based media art, digital (born and made) is enmeshed in almost every heritage sector. Th e past two decades have seen significant growth in the number of tools and resources available for preservation of digital collections, but understanding of the foundational concepts of this field is still lacking in the more “tangible” area of collection preservation. The chapters in this section present basic introductions to policy and practice in the storage of digital collections. While the field may still be emerging, the principles that are outlined here utilize preventive-conservation concepts that will be recognizable to the readers of this book. The development of a sustainable digital preservation program should be a collaborative and cross-professional effort. Much like the preservation of physical collections and specimens, digital preservation obliges museums, archives, and libraries to assign responsibility and develop best practices. Finally, creating programs that manage digital assets will require the development of pragmatic solutions.

Chapter 35: An Introduction to Digital Preservation - Sarah Slade, David Pearson, and Steve Knight

Chapter 36: Care of Born-Digital Objects - Riccardo Ferrante

Storage at a Glance

Introduction - Lisa Elkin and Robert Waller

Bone, Antler, Ivory, and Teeth - Christopher A. Norris and Robert Waller

Books - Alice Cannon, Jean Holland, and Belinda Gourley

Ceramics - Victoria Oakley and Fi Jordan

Chitin - Suzanne Ryder

Electronic Media - Sarah Stauderman

Film and Film Negatives - Andrew Robb

Fossils - Matthew Brown

Glass - Stephen Koob

Keratin - Julia Sybalsky and Lisa Elkin

Metals - Ian D. MacLeod and Shelley Sturman

Minerals, Gems, and Meteorites - Robert Waller

Paintings: Traditional - Sarah Spafford-Ricci and Emily Min

Paintings: Nontraditional - Sarah Spafford-Ricci and Emily Min

Paper - Alice Cannon, Elizabeth Melzer, and Belinda Gourley

Photographs: Positive Prints and Plates - Paul Messier

Plant Material - Victoria Purewal

Plastics - Mary Coughlin

Shells and Corals - Paul Callomon

Skin, Leather, and Parchment - Catharine A. Hawks and Robert Waller

Textiles - Patricia

Wood - Emily Williams