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Subject: Offsite collections storage and work stations

Offsite collections storage and work stations

From: Karen Potje <kpotje>
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 1996
Here at the Canadian Centre for Architecture we are fast running out
of vault space for our collections of architectural
materials--mainly works of art and documents on paper, photographs,
and models. In addition to looking for ways to make the most of our
existing vault space we are considering expanding to an offsite
location.  We also lack adequate space for certain technical
operations, such as unpacking and packing of shipments, construction
of frames and vitrines, and framing of works of art for exhibition,
and are considering an offsite solution to this problem. I would
like to hear from people who have experience in designing or working
in satellite storage and/or working facilities.

Here are some of the question with which we are grappling:

Offsite Collections Storage:

If our budget does not allow construction of new facilities what
kind of buildings (either rented or purchased) offer the best
potential for adaptation as secure, clean, environmentally controlled
storage spaces?

Have any groups of museums joined together to share offsite storage
space? What kind of arrangements have they made to make this

How do we decide what to send to offsite storage?  Is it better to
keep entire collections together (eg.the whole Archives Collection
goes offsite while the Prints and Drawings Collection stays at the
museum?) or should we split collections up based on types of
materials, the frequency of their usage, or some other criteria?

How do we deal with the problem of access?  What about scholars who
need to study materials from both sites?  How far away is TOO far?

And how do we maintain control over the security and conservation of
remote collections?  In a normal museum situation, if a pipe bursts
or the roof leaks, it's often a staff member who first notices the
problem during the course of his work in the building.  But what
about places that are minimally staffed?  How do we keep aware of
what's going on there?

Offsite Work Stations:

Is it practical to move some departments offsite to give them more
working space?  What departments could we move without causing great
disruption of the flow of work?  (eg. Could the preparators build
all frames and vitrines offsite without great inconvenience?)  Is it
practical to then retrofit existing office or work space as vaults?

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has dealt with these
issues or can suggest institutions that I might contact regarding
their own experiences (positive or negative) with offsite storage
and offsite work stations.

Karen Potje
Head, Conservation/Preservation
Canadian Centre for Architecture
Montreal, Canada

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:65
                  Distributed: Monday, March 18, 1996
                        Message Id: cdl-9-65-006
Received on Wednesday, 13 March, 1996

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