Thursday, June 12, 2008

Moving the Collections, Part II

At a secret location, deep within a large, climate-controlled, super-secure off site art storage warehouse facility, the Addison Gallery's collection now resides carefully packed away awaiting its eventual return to a fully renovated and expanded museum in 2010.

The bins and crates now holding our artwork are carefully arranged on long stretches of shelving units (see left). Each container is labeled with a list of its contents, complete with images. This, along with updated database location codes, help facilitate easy retrieval of our objects when necessary. Objects that we know we will need to access often while we are closed are located on the lower shelves. Objects we don't plan to need until we reopen are located higher up on the less-accessible, and nearly two-story tall, upper shelves. This is a good plan, in theory: there were many times, as we placed something almost completely out of reach in the back of one of the upper shelves, that I, being a true believer in Murphy's Laws, thought to myself, "That will inevitably be the one thing we'll need to get at first!!!"

Many of our two-dimensional objects, packed individually in slipcases of plastic, bubble, and cardboard due to their size, are stored upright on another set of storage racks (see right). All their labels are facing out, again, to make it easy to locate an object if it needs to be seen. Our ship models (see below) are also stored on shelves, sometimes in unique configurations due to their size, and are quite a sight to behold, seemingly docked in port around and above you, when you first walk into the storage vault.

Yet another of the many issues keeping me up at night during this project was what the packers and I called the ultimate question: Will everything fit? This was very difficult to estimate before the project started...the objects, while stored here at the Addison, were in very efficient, space-saving storage equipment. Trying to figure out how much space the collection will require after it is packed was a challenge. Thankfully, we now have the answer to the ultimate question: it does look like it will all fit, and perhaps I will finally enjoy that ever-elusive good night's sleep.

A good night's sleep for the moment, that is. Getting the artwork out of the museum is just half the battle. In 2010 it will all have to move back. For now, however, we know that the collection is safe, secure, and patiently waiting until it will be returned, once again, to the Addison Gallery of American Art.

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

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