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Many Oxford institutions have experienced or are currently undergoing significant changes in their storage provision, including major capital building projects, whole collection-based storage moves and refurbishment and adaptation of historic storage spaces. On Tuesday 16 May there will be a day of talks and tours, bringing together some of the key people involved in these projects who will share their experience, knowledge and some of the lessons learned.
Based in the Bodleian’s impressive new Weston Library lecture theatre in central Oxford, the morning programme will consist of a series of presentations on storage. Listed below are our speakers for the morning, along with the brief abstracts of the papers they will be presenting:
Alex Walker, Preventive Conservator for the Bodleian Libraries:
The Weston Library Refurbishment: What’s in store for the preservation of the Bodleian’s Special Collections?
The closure of the New Bodleian in 2010 and the four-year renovation project which followed resulted in the opening of the Weston Library, and vastly improved storage of the Bodleian Library’s special collections. This is not only in terms of preservation stability but also the security and fire safety of collections. There are specialised storage areas which are new features to the refurbished library. The cold storage facility and quarantine room are managed by Conservation and Collection Care and offer new possibilities for the improved storage of some of the more vulnerable collections.
Moving into a new building is rarely a smooth transition, and there has been considerable work carried out by various stakeholders to ensure that the storage environment meets the correct standards and operates correctly. This talk will explain this process, and how the completed Weston Library greatly improved the storage of the Bodleian’s special collections.
Daniel Bone, Head of Conservation at the Ashmolean Museum:
Evolution and revolution: storage at the Ashmolean Museum
Daniel Bone will give an overview of the changing nature of collections storage at the Ashmolean museum with special reference to the new stores which have been operational following the museum’s major redevelopment in 2009.
Andrew Hughes, Ethnographic Conservator and Move Project Team Leader at the Pitt Rivers Museum:
The challenges of moving a large mixed ethnographic collection
The largest of the Pitt Rivers Museum off-site stores is moving locations. The current store, a converted industrial building, was heavily overcrowded on moving in and the collection has grown by over 40,000 objects since then. The store houses a wide range of material and object formats, some of which pose several hazards. It is also home to the majority of the museum’s human remains and some religious and sacred objects requiring specific handling needs.
Andrew’s talk will highlight:
* How the limits of the current building have impacted on how the collection has been stored and accessed in the past.
* How the current team are packing and planning to move the collection and the issues encountered so far.
* How the team are dealing with an expanding collection in an already overcrowded space.
* How improvements in recording material susceptible to pest damage has improved IPM at the store
Zoë Simmons, Curatorial Officer of Life Collections at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History:
All Creatures Great and Small: housing a natural history collection
The collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History are housed in a neo-gothic Grade 1 listed building. Built in 1860 the museum was designed as ‘a cathedral to science’; the glass roof and architecture are meant to convey both a sense of grandeur and illumination to those that walk within its walls. Working within the constraints that this now places on modern collection and display methods can be highly challenging. Staff have had to learn to be innovative problem solvers, designing and managing projects that not only conserve specimens but also promote and celebrate.
This talk will take in two case-studies, the first of which tackles the tricky question of large object storage, or rather, what you do when you have large objects from display to temporarily store but are physically too large to fit in collections spaces. From behind the scenes we will hear about the specific challenges around managing a collection that has swifts living above and all the pest related problems this brings with it.
In the afternoon, participants will have the opportunity to tour three of the four sites highlighted in the morning. There will be a choice of ‘behind the scenes’ tours, and when booking participants can choose two of the three available:
* The Bodleian’s Weston Library: including the specialised storage and quarantine areas as well as the impressive stack provision
* The Oxford Museum of Natural History: including historic and modern entomological storage and the chance to see some collection treasures
* The Ashmolean Museum: led by the museum’s textile conservator Sue Stanton, the tour will include Eastern Art Organic Store and the solutions developed for a collection based on different formats and materials
Each tour is limited to 15 people, but two of each will be offered. Tour bookings will be made on a first come first served basis.