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Storage Survey

A plan for the future…
The announcement of the acquisition of the Perelman Building and, subsequently, the Museum's intent to create a new Costume and Textiles storage facility, resource library, and study center, instigated an intensive period of research and planning.

The major questions that needed to be answered for the design and planning phase of the new storage facility followed two themes:

  • The scope of the collection:
    • What types of objects and how many of each type do we have?
    • What is the safest method of storage?
    • How much room will each object take when properly stored?
    • How much time/how many materials will be needed to rehouse the collection?
  • The ideal storage facility for the collection:
    • How do we plan to use the facility?
    • How much room is available for our use in the Perelman Building?
    • What storage furniture will best meet our needs?
    • What are the ideal environmental and safety conditions for the new facility?

The scope of the collection:
To answer these questions and prepare for the planning process, we developed a form to survey the entire collection. The survey form would enable us to examine 30,000 objects in one year and provide important information to the architects and planners. It was imperative that we examine the entire collection in a timely manner, therefore the survey was very specific and limited in scope.

It was decided that the survey form include the following information for each object:

  1. The Accession #
  2. The current location
  3. A brief description (for example, "blue dress") that would enable us to quickly find the object again if there were any questions
  4. Whether or not the object needed to be rehoused, and if so, the estimated time it would take
  5. How the object should be housed in the future
  6. The dimensions of the object when rehoused (for example, a length of 18th-century printed cotton may be 60" x 45", but when rolled on a 2" tube for storage the dimensions would be 48" x 2 1/4" x 2 1/4")
  7. Whether or not the object needed first aid conservation treatment in order for it to be moved safely, even if it was placed in a secure mount or moving container

In May 2002, the Conservation department received a grant from IMLS to hire a project conservator to oversee the survey process. The grant also provided funding to hire a data entry technician and to purchase a computer and other necessary supplies. The project conservator and twelve dedicated volunteers, working together with the Costume and Textiles conservator and curatorial staff, successfully completed the survey within one year.

Examine Fans
The project conservator and a volunteer examine fans during the survey
Examine Fans
The project conservator examines fans to determine the best storage method