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Preserving History: Identifying the Right Museum Shelving for Storage

Preserving History: Identifying the Right Museum Shelving for Storage


Museums often have more treasures in store than what are on display, and a good deal of these items are kept hidden in a storage space typically within the facility. Kate Prengaman explores the hidden gems of the Yakima Valley Museum, and writes about what she observed in the Yakima Herald:

“Most museums have far more items than they can display, which means there’s usually something fascinating hiding in the basement or back room. And local museums are no exception.

“I don’t think most people recognize that at any museum you go to, only a small percentage of collections are out at any given time,” said John Baule, director of the Yakima Valley Museum. “We don’t want the stuff to be harmed and we want to show new things.”

Local museums are a great way for communities to showcase the history, tradition, and culture of the community, serving to bind and bring together all the members of the community.  Exhibits in local museums are typically organized according to a theme, and as an exhibit ends, the items on display have to be stored to make way for a new exhibit with a different theme.

The museum, however, continues to be the repository of priceless objects that reflect what the community was and is about. Local museums are also often the recipient of donated artifacts from the community, and while not all of these artifacts may be put on display for various reasons, they remain preserved in the museum’s storage for as long as possible.

For this reason, museum curators and owners need to identify and use the right museum shelving for the items in their possession. In addition to keeping everything organized, museum storage units and storage locations have to be selected such that all the artifacts and pieces are preserved and protected from various elements, including heat, humidity, moisture, and physical damage.

As a museum’s collection continues to grow, its storage area also needs be flexible to accommodate more objects. Steel mobile shelving from reputable suppliers like the Olpin Group are ideal for this purpose. Steel is a very stable material that can withstand various environmental condition, and is heavy and durable enough to resist unnecessary movements. Likewise, mobility of the shelving makes it easier for museum curators and owners to organize their storage spaces as they build the museums’ collections.

(Article information and image from Local museums offer more than meets the visitor’s eye, Yakima Herald, January 12, 2014)