Moving the MoCC collection

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As part of the WMA 2011 session Collections: Planning for Remodels and New Spaces, Nicole Nathan of Claret Associates used the 2007 move of the Museum of Contemporary Craft as a case study in moving a collection. Part 2 of 3.

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  • So here we are moving through the process of the move of a collection. I’ll be using the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR as a case study/example. MoCC is a 75 year old institution, and made the move from their home in a residential area of Portland to the Pearl District where many galleries, design firms, housing, restaurants are located. The move was made in 2007, and I began work there in 2006 in preparation.
  • After the planning has been done, there will probably be lag time between it and the actual moving process. It may be months up to years in the intervening time to secure grants and the money needed to make the move. This part of the presentation will be addressing what happens once the decision has been made to move and the location has been selected. Some of the questions that arise are: how do you prepare for a move, what’s the process? Managing the schedule and physical move.
  • I’ll be using Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR as a case study. The previous location had been the home to the museum for 70 years and was built especially for the purpose of gallery, ceramic studio, and exhibition space. It was built as a WPA project and opened in 1937. Additions were made to the building over the years, but was located in a residential district and hidden away until the institution moved in 2007. During its 70 year history, the collection grew to roughly 1000 objects stored in various and sundry pockets around the building including the former kiln room, permanent collection storage cabinets in an exhibition gallery, and storage in the basement– former restroom, a damp dark room where ivy grew through the wall, and space carved from a closet behind the director’s desk.
  • Who are the players- curators, staff, architects? What specifically is your role? Are you a contractor or staff?The museum is moving, but how far along are they in plans? Has the space been specified and already designed? Can any changes be made or is that a done deal? What state is the collection in? Numbered? Catalogued? Inventoried? Is there a database in place? Collection files? Archives? All of these then contribute to an overall plan and schedule. What needs to happen first, simultaneously, and all along? At MoCC, I was hired as a contractor to I took a few weeks or so researching what was in the collection, what files and systems were in place, where was everything stored, finding location records, etc. In doing the above work, it was clear that an up-to-date inventory needed to be performed so we knew what exactly was where, what shape was it in, how much room did it need for storage, and how could we prepare to pack it up and move it? Simultaneously you’ll need to be looking at the new space while dealing with the collection in the old space. Hopefully, there’s enough room? What are the issues with this new space? How flexible is this new space? Can any changes be made?
  • This was the original plan for storage that had been formulated by the architects, who were not museum designers.There are a number of issues that arose with this configuration: it’s a long way to get from storage to the galleries and there are only single wide doors to access storage.“Material storage” was code for a WOOD SHOP (it wouldn’t pass code with the city if it was known it would be a shop), so you’d have to move objects through the mess of the shop and through all the storage where the pedestals, vitrines, etc would be to get to the galleries.Access, what is not clear is that the walls on the right and bottom edge face the exterior, and the one on the right is all windows. Windows which can’t be removed or replaced due to the historic designation of the building. Huge security risk.The other issue is that temp controlled storage where wood and textiles would go shares a wall with the restrooms and the plumbing trunk runs down this wall.The wall to the north bordered another tenant in the building, also creating additional security hazards.The garbage room for the entire building was located directly below on the street level. Pest hazard.CHANGES TO STORAGEChanges were made to storage, and compromises had to be worked out between curatorial staff (advocating for the collection and the shop areas) and admin and the architects (not one to relish change orders).What resulted was a net loss in storage space, but with compactors it ended up serving the collection best.While storage still bordered other tenant spaces, there were no windows or other types of entry points.Collections spaces were on the interior and closer to the galleries.
  • So while you’re working on what the future will look like, you have to plan for what the reality is of the collection.Take a step back and figure out your methodology for getting these objects from point A to point B and into this nice new space you’ve been working on.The preparation for a move is a great opportunity to inventory the collection, audit it, see what needs it has– conservation, storage room, deaccessioning, etc. At MoCC, an up-to-date inventory was performed, locating every object that had been recorded in their database, and filling in blanks of new accessions. You probably will be using the help of volunteers and interns, so being clear is paramount. And when looking back, it helps determine what was done and how.
  • Once an inventory is completed you have to decide how the move will be made. Will you do it yourself with staff? Can you afford to have it packed professionally?You’ll need to determine what can happen realistically, while taking into consideration all the other things that are likely happening at the same time: an opening exhibit, a book project, opening date, etc.So you’ll see up here there are all kinds of things happening simultaneously. (READ OFF)
  • There will be glitches and issues that arise, like not having a working elevator when bringing in the collection to a second floor storage space. Moving the collection before the shelving was installed because of dates we had to receive 2 tractor trailers worth of the opening exhibition in mere days. Here’s a 1:30 look at what all went in to this.
  • All of the planning and process resulted in a useable storage area with temp and light control, compact shelving that can be reused should another move be necessary, and an easily utilized collection.
  • Moving the MoCC collection

    1. 1. Collections: Planning for Remodels and New Spaces<br />WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />
    2. 2. Or, what do you do once the decision has been made to move?<br />WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />
    3. 3. Museum of Contemporary Craft<br />Previous location New location <br />WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />
    4. 4. Steps to a successful move<br />Get the lay of the land <br />What has been done so far both building-wise and collection-wise?<br />Break the project down in to the requisite parts and formulate an overall plan and schedule. <br />WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />
    5. 5. Storage plan<br />WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />
    6. 6. Methodology & Plan<br />WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />
    7. 7. Methodology & Plan<br />WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />
    8. 8. WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />
    9. 9. Museum of Contemporary Craft<br />WMA 2011 | Honolulu <br />Nicole Nathan, Claret Associates and Oregon Nikkei Endowment<br />

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