Tag Archives: Touchable Art

Museum Storage – Somebody’s Gotta Organize It!

27 Jun

Before I start in on what I am doing and what my project goals are, I think an introduction is in order. My name is Amanda Qualls, and I am a volunteer and former employee of the IMA. In 2006 I was a freshman at Butler University, and I had the pleasure of working at the Jane S. Dutton Educational Resource Center. I transferred to a different university my sophomore year, and so did not return to this position in 2007. In 2009 the Dutton Center was closed and items within it were redistributed to the Stout Reference Library and Audience Engagement Department.

Though the items taken over by both departments have been cared for and in use since 2009, the objects acquired by Audience Engagement were placed into storage at the time of the closure and have not undergone any sort of organization or inventory since – this is the project I have undertaken! This summer, the Dutton Collection will be organized, inventoried, and new proposals for use will be made.

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The Dutton Collection was moved into a storage room at the time of the Center’s closure. This storage room, while not completely dedicated to the Dutton Collection, is comprised mostly of former Dutton Center objects (about 80% of the room’s space is dedicated to Dutton). One of my first, and perhaps my largest, tasks as a volunteer charged with reorganizing and re-purposing the Dutton Collection is to organize this space and the objects within it. Some areas of the room were more organized than others when I began, but object placement was entirely inconsistent, with African, Asian, North and South American, Oceanic, and European objects sharing shelves throughout the room.

In order to organize the collection I removed groupings of objects from shelves and sorted by continent. Once this was completed, like items were moved to consolidated areas within the storage space. Following this, items were organized by box size and type (such as container or costume). I am currently in the final stages of the organization process – the creation of a collection map. This map will be displayed on the shelves directly in front of the door to the room, giving clear information to users of the items about the contents of the different aisles and shelves within the space.

I am also in the midst of the item inventory, with around 90% of the items now accounted for. The inventory of docent carts is expected to account for the final 10%. The next steps in the project will be to create policies for use and conservation of the collection, and propose ideas for future use. There are a lot of great objects in this collection, and Audience Engagement is excited to finally extract their full potential!