A critical element of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s Re:Design project is a new off-site conservation, study, and storage facility, designed to the highest preservation standards and built over the past several years. In order to maximize the space, the new storage facility is outfitted with mobile compact storage units as well as static units for more fragile objects. This presents a challenge for the object conservators who are responsible for 35,000 three-dimensional objects in the collection: Develop a system to protect Product Design and Decorative Arts objects on their new movable shelving units.

Mobile compact storage units in the new off-site facility

Addressing the needs of a collection of diverse design objects requires a consistent and organized approach. We began by looking broadly at the collection, and then identifying discrete categories of objects based on their risk potential. Below are some sketches created while evaluating glass and ceramics objects on their previous storage shelves.

Preliminary sketches created to identify storage issues – tall objects, fragile objects, objects with lids, stacked plates, cups on saucers, figurines, disassembled objects, oddly shaped and delicate objects

Next we designed and created archival support components that respond to these targeted stability issues. Additional considerations include the amount of available shelf space and the level of accessibility required for the collection. In designing preservation storage supports the following requirements have been identified: * Stabilize vulnerable objects on both mobile and static shelving * Economize shelf space to maximize storage potential * Promote visibility and access for staff and researchers * Ensure a stable object environment through use of archival materials * Provide a mechanism for safe object handling * Economize supplies and resources * Encourage sustainability through re-use Outlining the issues is the first step in establishing an effective preservation system. A standardized range of adaptable support components will provide a wide variety of storage solutions. The next stage of the project is currently under development as we create prototypes to test materials, and analyze different shapes and sizes.

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