I’ll be hanging pictures- Collections Storage Review
I have had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Picture Stores here at BM&AG. At Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery there are a number of fine art picture stores, all of which are deemed to be at relatively full capacity. The picture stores are a vital resource for the daily runnings of the museum and managing the collections; it is here the art collection is stored in between exhibitions, before and after loans. Like many museums in the UK, Birmingham Museums Trust has found that the rate of collection expansion has outstripped the storage capacity of the institution.
My live project has involved auditing the picture stores, considering the current storage facilities in the store, the current level of collections use, and outline options for storage improvement in the short and long term including improving physical storage, and options for improving environmental conditions.
Key aims are:
– Improving management and storage of fine art collections for both short and long term
– Raising standards of collections documentation and storage
– Developing proposals for longer term strategic improvements to collections storage
– Creating efficiencies in storage of collections
This week I have concluded the audit, and have begun to identify how we can improve the current storage. This has included condensing objects on the racks to make more efficient use of space. The audit has helped to identify areas in the storage where there is potential to fit more objects on racks.
I suggested that this object- which was previously not able to be hung on a rack- could be now be moved because we have now been able to find a suitable space for it. It makes best use of the available space and improves the practice of the store. It also means that all objects are now hung on racks.
I have gained skills in object handling, collections management, and now understand how museum store functions in reality. BM&AG picture stores have a lot of activity and are constantly in flux; this is especially due to its wide ranging, vibrant exhibitions programme and loans.
Working on this project has subsequently informed my current research which is concerned with the development of the collections. I am interested in finding out how a museum such as Birmingham Museums Trust is able to develop its fine art collection, with the acquisition of contemporary art. One of the questions I have in relation to this is how does the museum respond to challenges of storage, funding, and representation, to develop its collections?