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How It’s Done: Five Types of Storage Every Museum Curator Wants

Oct 11, 2022

Museum storage is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Every museum needs to keep its
collections safe from fire, air, water, and unauthorized access. But beyond those common
storage needs, each museum’s storage requirements are as unique as its collections.
Museums’ collections of artworks and artifacts range far and wide.

There are:

  • natural history and science museums with dioramas and interactive exhibits
  • art museums containing paintings, sculptures, or video
  • museums of railroad engines
  • museums of military weaponry
  • a hair museum
  • a salt and pepper shaker museum
  • even a museum devoted to Spam, that famous canned meat.

And many, many more.

Obviously, the widely-varied sizes and shapes of such artifacts call for a wide array of storage
solutions. A can of Spam, for example, needs shelving; a 15 th century tapestry needs rolled
textile storage.
And the broad range of materials creates an equally broad range of different preservation
requirements. A DaVinci painting requires careful climate controls, while a Sevres teacup
requires extra cushioning to avoid breakage.

These five types of storage can cover almost every need:

1. Art racks – Framed paintings and prints can be hung on vertical racks in climate
controlled rooms, safe from heat, humidity, and compression or rub damage.

2. High density storage – These space-saving storage systems can be customized to fit
almost any preservation requirements, from locking padded drawers to open shelving,
while at the same time reducing storage space by as much as 50%.

3. Adjustable shelving – Sculpture, decorative arts, and large artifacts take up a lot of
storage space because they are non-standard sizes and shapes. Adjustable shelving
accommodates practically any odd-shaped item safely and securely.

4. Rolled textile storage – Even in a climate controlled setting, safe from molds and pests,
textiles can suffer damage if they are hung or folded for storing. Rolled textile storage
attached to slat wall or art racks preserves the original form of these delicate artworks.

5. Flat drawers – Works on paper, from unframed prints to ancient maps, are best stored
flat. Like textiles, hanging or folding results in permanent damage, while flat drawers,
available in varying sizes, avoid such harm.

The museum-going public sees only a small part of the fascinating items collected in any
museum. Approximately 95% of the average museum’s collections are in storage at any
given time, due to restrictions of display space and security. Curators know how essential it is
to store every item safely; damaged one-of-a-kind items are simply irreplaceable.

Talk to a storage expert to learn more about housing your museums’ ever-growing, ever-
changing, and always unique collections. These professionals will work with your curators to
create a custom solution for any storage need – even Spam!