Improve Your Museum Storage in 4 Simple Steps

Did you know that on average, over 95% of most museums’ collections are not on public display at any given time? This is largely due to the inability museums have to showcase the vast amount of items they hold. A study done by the Institute of Archaeology linked these display problems to poor museum documentation and the disorganization of storage areas. Because of these common organizational issues, we have laid out 4 simple steps to improve the storage of museum collections.

Step 1: Evaluation

Before starting to reorganize, ask yourself what your end goal is in reorganizing. What direction or story do you aim to tell and achieve through the way the museum is organized?  Important questions to answer include:
  • How the collection is used and by whom?
  • How should the collection be organized in storage?
  • What is the projected growth of the collection?
  • Will the storage be open or closed to the public?
It is then important to evaluate the current storage situation. Identify the largest problems, and list out everything off the top of your head that you would like to have improved. Sketching might be helpful in deciding physical changes.
Overrsized Museum Artifact Storage on Wide Span Shelving

Step 2: Condition Report

Create a condition report of the following 4 areas:
  1. Management
    1. List current storage procedures
  2. Building and space
    1. List any past incidents that occured in the storage area
    2. Include museum floor plan
  3. Collection
    1. List of all objects and artifacts and their conditions
    2. Decide what will be shown to the public and what won’t, along with any items that need to be discarded
  4. Furniture & Equipment
    1. List current storage furniture that can be used to house collections, and what additional storage solutions that will be needed
Score each area of the report 1-4:
  • 1 – Serious improvements needed
  • 2 – Somewhat large improvements needed
  • 3 – Small improvements needed
  • 4 – No improvement needed
Explain the detailed reasoning behind your score.

Step 3: Planning

At this point, it should be clear what exactly needs to be improved in each area. Create a list of everything that needs to be improved, along with a solution to each improvement. It can be helpful at this step to reach out to a storage representative to help you design a storage solution that matches your needs. Decide which storage areas will be used for which collections, and be sure every object:
  1. Has an assigned location
  2. Is retrievable within three minutes
  3. Is movable without damaging another

Step 4: Implementation

Follow the planning list to implement all the needed changes. This is going to be a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end!

Be sure to document your new solution, including where each item resides, so you can stay on top of organizing collections in the future.


At the end of the 4 steps, your revamped museum storage should have the following:
  1. A basic documentation system
  2. A storage area for each collection
  3. Every object
    1. Has an assigned location
    2. Is retrievable within three minutes
    3. Is movable without damaging another
  4. The building is designed or adapted for conservation
Oversized Museum Artifact Storage on Wide Span Shelving
Spacesaver Art Racks in Museum
Spacesaver Cabinets for Museum Storage
Reorganizing museum storage can be an enormous task without the help of an expert. At any point of this process, Spacesaver Interiors is here to assist you to meet your unique museum storage solution needs. Reach out today!

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