by Camille Owens, Project Supervisor, Cultural History Mobile Storage
In September 2003, a specialized team of Glenbow Museum staff began to upgrade the storage of collections in Cultural History. Nearly 150 wooden cupboards, 22 large metal racks, 13 wooden rolled textile cupboards, and various other units (housing approximately 23,000 objects) were too full. There were also issues with the wooden cupboards off-gassing, causing premature aging of our collections. This, combined with the space crunch, made this collection area a priority for storage improvement funds. A grant awarded in April 2003 from Infrastructure Canada — Alberta Project enabled us to undertake this work.
We created a swing space (temporary storage space) within the museum by consolidating about 7,000 objects at our offsite warehouse, and then moving 20 racks and four cupboards of sturdy industrial artifacts to the warehouse for temporary storage. We dreamed of beeps, blips, and barcode labels as we used new technology to track the objects when they were moved.
We cleared construction space for the largest phase of the project, moving cupboards, shelves, racks, and their contents into the swing space. Contractors laid the track and floor, and installed the metal mobile shelving units which can roll together to save space. Our team swiftly loaded the units with clothing and accessories for work, men, women, and children; all of our rolled textiles; and societal objects ranging from Christmas ornaments to buttons and badges.
We have stopped more than a few times to admire our favorite dresses, hats, and shoes, and we are proud of the endless mounts and inventive storage solutions contributed by team members. This has been an incredible learning experience for all involved.