Contributing Editors

Art Gallery Improves Storage with Rolling Art Racks

by Kim Kilpatrick April 1, 2010 4:33 PM
Comox Valley Art Gallery, a Courtenay, Canada art gallery, has decided to invest in specialized professional art storage racks to store its collection. The racks are on wheels, and can store works of art that are as big as six feet by eight feet. Comox is buying a total of six racks for $15,000. The racks will hold around 100 large paintings and other two-dimensional art works.

Storing art properly can extend its life and reduce wear and tear. But, ordinarily, art placed in archives must be packaged extensively to keep it safe from light and from physical damage. Opening the packaging can complicate and slow the process of choosing art to display for particular exhibits. Using a specialized art rack can make it easier for a museum to store an extensive collection in an organized way, enabling curators to quickly locate and choose art for new exhibits without having to unwrap cumbersome packaging. The racks will also make it easier for visiting art historians and scholars to access the museum’s collection for study and research purposes. [More]

Red Deer, Alberta Museum Seeks Storage Space

by John Stevens January 14, 2010 10:32 AM
Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, in Alberta, Canada, has had about $1.5 million in renovations in the last year. In one spot, the renovations increased the museum's exhibition area by 10,000 square feet. The renovations also improved the museum's washrooms and office areas. But the renovations did nothing to address the museum's other critical need: storage space for its archives.

"Our first priority was to improve our service to the public," explained the museum's executive director, Lorna Johnson. "That's what the renovation has allowed us to do.....It didn't address collection storage for either the museum or the archives." Johnson said the museum still needs about 20,000 square feet of space for archival storage. The storage will have to be off-site, but it must also be secure and climate-controlled. At the moment, the museum is hoping to find a storage space to share with city archives, Red Deer College, and other art organizations, all of which are also in need of storage. "If we can all get together to build one structure, that isn't so expensive," Johnson commented. The city has also considered building a new museum, but does not expect to have a budget for a project of that magnitude for many years. The museum is also struggling with budget cuts, as its 2010 budget (nearly $882,000) has been reduced by 1.3 percent from its 2009 budget ($894,000). [More]

Researchers Put Stored Paintings and Sculptures in a "3D Wikipedia of Art"

by Holly Robinson January 4, 2010 3:01 PM
When you visit most art museums, the art that you see on display represents only a fraction of the museum's actual holdings. The percentage of art holdings that are actually on display in museums around the world is dropping, as the recession forces some museums to move to smaller facilities or to close their doors altogether. Researchers at the University of Brighton, in Sussex, England, want to make art that is being held in storage available for people to see in 3D form, over the Internet. If they succeed, stored art could be viewable 24 hours a day, seven days a week, indefinitely. The project is called 3D-COFORM, Tools and Enterprise for 3D Collection Formation.

"What you see at any given time in a museum is only the tip of the iceberg," said Professor David Arnold, the project leader. "There are many more things in storage than on display and all these could be recorded and made available for 3D viewing....Everything a museum holds could be available and accessible at almost any time. Virtual handling of the objects is a different challenge but with this technology you'll be able to see details invisible on a visit to the museum." [More]

Claremont Museum of Art Goes Virtual and Puts Entire Collection in Storage

by Kim Kilpatrick December 23, 2009 7:34 AM
The Claremont Museum of Art, in Claremont, CA, announced yesterday that it is putting its entire, permanent collection into storage. The museum could not afford to pay its rent. In fact, it still owes three months of back rent (amounting to $15,000) to its landlord, Jerry Tessier. "It is such a grave disappointment," said former Mayor Ellen Taylor, who was on the museum's fundraising committee.

The Museum will go virtual, exhibiting its collection online at its website. It will become a "museum without walls," said founding president Marguerite McIntosh. She estimated that within five years, when the country starts to come out of its recession, the museum might be able to reopen. [More]

Students Stage See-Through Art Storage at MFAH

by John Stevens October 20, 2009 10:49 AM
Rice University students have developed a modular, transparent art storage design that is revolutionary, says Wynne Phelan, Conservation Director of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), who has adopted this new system, according to an October 19 report by the Houston Chronicle.

This unique design replaces wood crates and cardboard boxes - which prevent museum staff from seeing the artworks inside – thus requiring additional unpacking and repacking of delicate objects; this process also emits harmful acids that can be detrimental to all types of media used by artist.

"This adds an incredible freedom of visiting experience to a museum," Phelan said. "If you don't have things in crates and cardboard boxes or closed cases, there is something to show, and you don't have to handle the artwork."

The 4 Rice University students who developed the system are participants in the inaugural Engineering and Design for Art and Artifact Conservation program at Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.

This system, which combines an easily-assembled armature of metal rods and Plexiglas windows, enables conservators to customize how they secure each object. [More]