The Discovery Museum in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is a major museum in the North East region. Its collections which include items as diverse as submarines to animal heads ably demonstrates the rich historical culture of the area, such as the shipbuilding heritage and innovations which changed the world.
Because of a lack of space at the museum, a significant proportion of the collection had to be stored in a remote warehouse, making access for the archivists difficult and limiting the choice of collection that could be put on display for the public. In order to remedy this, a decision was taken to completely refurbish the basement areas and use a storage specialist to design a system which would accommodate all the offsite artefacts that staff were unable to display. One of the overriding issues for the museum which sources it’s funding from various sources as well as the local council was the cost of the offsite storage. Offsite storage costs amounts to £…. per year before taking into account the to and from transport costs of requesting items from the offsite location. Being able to store the collection itself will save this annual cost immediately. A tender was published which gave exact details of the items to be stored in each area. The Rackline team produced highly detailed drawings responding to the requirements in each area in fine detail using bespoke solutions. This led to an invitation to a meeting with representatives of the museum and their consultants Turner and Townsend Limited. Following this meeting, Rackline carried out detailed site surveys and viewed collections which allowed further innovative ideas and improvements to be suggested in consultation with the client.
Rackline installed systems into 13 galleries including 250 bays of Proform shelving, 150 bays of Prospan post shelving and 145 bays of Maxispan, plus specialized shelving units including: cantilever shelving, plan chests and overheight sliding doors. Shelving was mounted onto Multitrak mobile bases wherever possible to maximize capacity in most of the storage areas. Where this wasn’t possible fixed static shelving was utilized. All the product was finished in a White Smoke RAL9002. End panels with console handles were added to the mobile to provide a high quality finish. Bespoke products were manufactured for the Biology room where mesh mounted shelves and mesh backs were used for an ornithology display. Maxispan shelving was used to store very large animal exhibits with full height sliding doors to create a dust fee environment for the larger display items utilizing sealing strips. Picture hanging storage was modifi ed and strengthened so it could be used as fixed or mobile storage for large animal heads and antlers in both the Trophy Heads room and the Osteology and Antler rooms. The same heavy duty picture racking was adapted for the storage of the museums collection of spears, arrows and bones. In the Geology room 140 bays of Prospan mounted onto Multitrak mobile bases stored 3,920 geology trays, all the rails were designed specifi cally for the boxes, some existing boxes were used and new boxes were added. The Herbarium room used Proform shelving mounted onto Multitrak mobile bases complete with pin hinge doors for added preservation. Extra wide mobile bases were designed for the larger items, for example deep storage in the Archaeology room where a mixture of plan chests and Maxispan shelving was mounted onto mobile bases.
“We are delighted with the storage system Rackline supplied, we worked together to achieve a unique solution that not only stores the artefacts successfully, but appreciates the fragility and uniqueness of the collection. The high quality fi nish of the systems allows public access to these areas. Racklines project team liaised closely with the museum staff to ensure minimal disruption and a smooth handover” Steve McClean, Project Manager, Great North Museum