Keeping the Collection Safe

05/26/2015
3:03 pm

While preparing for renovation to begin, exhibition and collections staff have taken steps to keep the Spencer’s collection safe from construction risks such as dirt, dust, temperature changes, and vibration. Staff members have worked with the construction team to create three temporary spaces, in addition to the Museum’s main storage area, to serve as stable microclimates for object storage. Microclimates are maintained at temperature and humidity levels consistent with professional museum guidelines in order to best preserve objects.

The three temporary microclimates are in select areas of the building that will be completely walled off and sealed for the duration of the renovation project. The HVAC system will be rerouted to provide appropriate temperature and humidity levels in these spaces while shutting off circulation from locations where construction is taking place. These measures will prevent dust and dirt in work areas from circulating into storage.

Two monitoring systems in each microclimate will ensure that conditions remain stable. One monitoring system will be linked to the HVAC, gauging temperature and humidity 24/7 and sending text and email alerts to Museum staff when conditions move beyond an approved range. The other system logs data that will be collected manually by staff at regular intervals as a failsafe.

Works on paper, which are already stored in archival boxes, have been wrapped in plastic. Compact-shelving units have been compressed and wrapped to provide a short-term microclimate. The contents of open-shelving units have been individually wrapped, and the units faced with plywood and sealed.

Janet Dreiling, the Spencer’s assistant director for collections, said all temporary and permanent storage areas will have enhanced intrusion systems in place throughout the duration of the project.

“We are doing everything we need to do to minimize risk,” Dreiling said. “Nothing gets misplaced or damaged, that is our goal.”