The Museum Store Project
The museum’s collections and the museum building itself are owned by the Museum Society, and Uttlesford District Council runs the service in collaboration with the Society for the benefit of the public. It has been a long-held ambition to improve the storage facilities for the collections, which will give better access to the thousands of artefacts for staff and researchers alike. More importantly, it will pave the way for extending displays and access to collections in the museum, as the first stage of a forward plan to improve the museum service.
Last year (2014) the Museum Society and Uttlesford District Council completed the construction of a new purpose designed store for the storage of Museum objects. The new building, like the museum itself, is purpose built, and is the first stage in a long term plan for the society to improve storage facilities, and by extension expand access to collections in the museum for staff, researchers, and of course the visiting public.
The cost was £400,000, and almost 95% of the funding came from the Museum Society itself. The balance was covered by Uttlesford District Council, who also provided the necessary building surveying and project management expertise. The council also agreed to match the Museum Society’s contribution towards installing the racking. Although the building itself was complete it has taken a further year to complete the installation of racking together with the necessary alarms and access to the internet. With this complete it has now been possible to commence the transfer of objects from the old store building at Newport. Preparations for the move began in December 2014, and since then a team of Volunteers led by the Museum Staff have cleaned and repacked hundreds of boxes in order to be ready for the transport to the new store.
The removal of collections to the new Shirehill store got off to a flying start on October 20th when a team of curatorial staff, volunteers and officers from Uttlesford District Council began moving exhibits from the old Newport store, and over the next few months all of the material will gradually be moved across to some of the new 1050 individually numbered shelves. However this is only the first phase of plans for the Shirehill store. As soon as it is fully operational there will be further deliveries from archaeological contractors of the finds and records from all of the recent excavations in the District which we have been holding off for lack of space. Large archives are expected from Stansted Airport and the “new” A120. Then all of the digital location records for the collections need to be updated, and objects and specimens catalogued on the computer database. This is the foundation for new displays and exhibitions and other projects in the Museum’s long-term improvement plan.
The new store will pave the way for extending displays and access to collections in the museum, as the first stage of a forward plan to improve the museum service.