The Museums Association is hosting a one-day museum storage seminar at the British Museum, London, on 17 March. Off the Shelf: Making Storage Work for You will explore some of the new and emerging approaches to designing and utilising museum stores. During the afternoon, the presentations will focus on practical issues around opening up storage sites to members of the public, with a number of case studies and a panel discussion addressing the advantages of public access versus the potential risk to collections.
Opening up collections
For the majority of museums, only a fraction of the objects in public collections are on display at any one time. In recent years, there has been an upsurge in interest in opening up hidden collections to the public. This has coincided with an increase in the number of study spaces linked to existing collections, particularly in the higher education sector. The Hunterian’s new collections and study area, part of the Kelvin Hall development in Glasgow, which opens in the autumn of 2016, is a fine example of the trend. At Kelvin Hall the Hunterian will create research and teaching labs and state of the art conservation studios alongside search and seminar rooms, dedicated postgraduate study space, a conference suite and library. The development will allow the University of Glasgow to build on its international reputation for collections-based research and teaching, allowing much greater access to collections while forging new academic and educational practice. Alan Percy, general sales manager for Bruynzeel Storage Systems, has worked extensively on the Kelvin Hall development, supplying storage systems to both the Hunterian and its neighbours in the redeveloped space, Glasgow Life Museums. He says that museums are increasingly looking to develop shared and centralised facilities for storage. “There is more awareness of the benefits of investing in proper museum stores,” he said. “The modern storage systems being installed by Bruynzeel at Kelvin Hall optimise the capacity of the building while retaining 100% accessibility to every one of the 1 million objects and artefacts to be stored there.” Delegates at the museum storage seminar on 17 March can expect to hear more about how to open up collections alongside practical advice on collections storage from a range of speakers.

Off the shelf: confirmed speakers
Tony Spence, Head of Collections Services, British Museum and the lead for storage and logistics areas of the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre, will share practical advice on the process of designing a new storage space, from working with designers to procuring and designing racking. Chanté St Clair Inglis, Collections Care Manager, National Museums Scotland, will discuss how the recent relocation of more than 10 million objects to a new collection building has enhanced research access and benefited the care and management of collections. Tom Gregan, Head of Document Services, National Archives, will discuss the benefits and challenges of using salt mines to store collections. Deborah Cane and Emily Locke, Birmingham Museums Trust, share the different ways museums can interpret storage sites and collections to the public. The event will run from running 10.45am to 4.30pm, with registration from 9.45am.