Bruynzeel Storage Systems outfitted six new repositories for the entomology department of the Naturalis museum in Leiden. Collection administrators Luc Willemse and Rob de Vos are proud of their new store. “Our repository is now the international benchmark for major museum collections.” Rob: “Naturalis wants to showcase the earth’s biodiversity as widely as possible. We use our collection to bring animals and plants to the attention of the general public.” Luc: “But our collection is also used for scientific purposes.
In principle we have material from all animal and plant groups, including many unknown species awaiting description. That makes the collection an exciting scientific treasure.” Rob: “Spread over 20 stories, we have 40 repositories. Three floors with six repositories are intended for insects, two of them for butterflies. It involves huge numbers. To give you an idea, we estimate that we have about 2 million butterflies and moths alone.” Shocks and bumps are unacceptable Luc: “It is a fragile collection. This places high demands on the quality of the repository system. Bumps and knocks, for example, are out of the question, as this can easily damage the collection.” Rob: “But with such a huge collection, it is also important that you can easily find your way around, that you can work comfortably and that it is accessible to all employees.” Luc: “Several years ago the Naturalis collection was merged with that of the Amsterdam Zoological Museum and the Leiden National Herbarium. That was the reason to refurbish the repository. The money came from the Economic Structure Enhancing Fund, a grant source funded with money from natural gas. Naturalis issued a European tender stating ‘this is how we want it, this is what we are looking for: you come up with a solution.’ Bruynzeel came out best on all fronts. “
Fully customized Luc: “We wanted the optimal use from the available square meterage. Easier said than done, because every museum had its own trays with specific dimensions.” Rob: “Moreover, with merging, the collection grew from about 40,000 to more than 80,000 trays, doubling the amount. Without more space becoming available.” Luc: “Together with Bruynzeel we came up with an optimal solution: shelves that are just high and wide enough to be able to place the largest trays in pairs side by side. And movable, retracting cabinets without fixed aisles. The cabinets also had to move very smoothly without jerking. A lot of calculations had to be done in advance.” Rob: “We were quite nervous at times, because the perfect size of the shelves had to be determined. After all, because of that it enabled us to win centimeters vertically and to use the capacity optimally. In addition, we also had to consider a thick tube that ran through the repositories and was in the way. It was pure customization.”
Energy efficient, low UV LED lighting to prevent discoloration of the collection Luc: “We also wanted retractable shelves at two heights, so that people of all heights could work comfortably. And we wanted to use energy-efficient, low UV LED lighting to prevent discoloration of the collection. The lighting had to move in tandem with the cabinets.” The result is amazing Rob: “The collaboration with the Bruynzeel team was pleasant and professional. They thought it out really well, and nothing was too much trouble.” Luc: “The result is stunning. We have a lot more trays per cubic meter and we were able to easily integrate three separate collections at tray level. Because of the larger unit, the presentation is also slicker. That in turn makes it more enjoyable for us to receive the public.” Rob: “We now have about 10 percent space left over. With that we can still move forward. In the coming years we expect to be offered a lot of collections from private individuals.” Luc: “Visitors from the world of museums and at home and abroad come and view these collections. Everyone is as excited as we are. Our refurbished repositories are unique and super modern. With this we have set a new international benchmark.”