How do you pack up a Museum?

Ever wondered what is involved in packing and moving Museum objects?

Here is a little information about what the Museum got up to during the packing process.
packing

The Museum itself houses a wide range of objects in its collection; from art to archaeology, books, costume, photographs and much more. With such a variety of objects the collections team, staff and volunteers had to treat each category of object very differently and often pack items on a case by case basis.

The art forms quite a large part of the Museum’s collection. Both the staff and volunteers particularly enjoyed this task as the Museum has within the collection a number of pieces by local artists including Walter Spradbery and Haydn Mackey. Some of the newer staff members and volunteers were seeing some of these artworks for the first time and sometimes it was hard not to get distracted from the task at hand!

Watercolour sketches by Spradbery, produced during WW1 in the area around the Somme

Watercolour sketches by Spradbery, produced during WW1 in the area around the Somme

The Right Honourable Lord Noel Buxton, Oil on Canvas, by Haydn Mackey

The Right Honourable Lord Noel Buxton, Oil on Canvas, by Haydn Mackey

The framed art was a much bigger task (and often much larger pieces!) as it was important to photograph, measure and document each object. Each framed piece was treated individually depending on size and ornateness of the frame it would be packed in a slightly different way. Measuring was important for documentation as well as thinking about the Museum’s exciting new storage facilities, and by photographing the art the team has created a great inventory and record. Below are some pictures of volunteers packing some of the art.

volunteers

The costume packing was quite different. Items where either hanging and stored in special calico bags or folded with acid free tissue and boxed. We uncovered some great fashion items whilst packing the costume, our touring exhibition assistant enjoyed looking through some of these items!

costumepacking images

Archaeological items often need a much more controlled environment so some of the objects that were susceptible to moisture damage had to be stored in boxes with airtight seals and with a kind of silica gel inside to create a ‘micro-climate’.

As you can see many of the staff and volunteers enjoyed the packing process even though it was a difficult task. There was a lot to pack and often hurdles to overcome with unusually shaped and sized objects. The collection has now been moved and safely stored in the correct environment and some of the collection will continually be documented and worked on during the Museum closure.

Heritage Lottery Fund Project Update – what have we been up to?

packing images
The major task at the moment has been to move the collections to a safe environment and empty the Museum building ready for the building work to begin.
Staff and the museum’s many volunteers have been working on the painstaking task of cataloguing, sorting and packing the Museum’s vast collection. Everyone has said what a very enjoyable task this has been even though it has been hard work. For many volunteers and some of the new staff working on the Heritage Lottery Fund Project it has given them an insight into the fantastic collection that the Museum holds.

The museum collection contains a skeleton from the Waltham Abbey Chapter House burial of around 1250 AD. Evidence suggest the man is thought to be an abbot of Waltham, a facial reconstruction has been completed, showing what the abbot may have looked like.

The museum collection contains a skeleton from the Waltham Abbey Chapter House burial of around 1250 AD. Evidence suggest the man is thought to be an abbot of Waltham, a facial reconstruction has been completed, showing what the abbot may have looked like.

Items have included artefacts as diverse as a mummified cat, an abbot’s skeleton and artworks by artists connected with the district.
Mummified Cat
One of the most important items in the museum, the Tudor panelling, on a long term loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum has been carefully moved to a suitable storage area and will be redisplayed when the museum reopens.

Everything has been packed before being stored securely and in a suitable atmosphere in order to preserve the collection’s precious and often irreplaceable items. Building specialists are now investigating and recording the historic listed building the museum is located in ahead of building works, which will begin later this year.

Look out for more updates on our exciting project in future blog posts!