• NMAI Collections Move

    by T. Ashley McGrew

    Michael Van Hook scanning barcodes on packed boxes

    Completed in June of 2004 and spanning a 5 year period, over 800,000 objects were documented, packed and relocated at the National Museum of American Indian. This collection is now one of the most thoroughly documented collections of its type and size due to the digital imaging component integrated into the move process. It is also one of the more accessible collections due to the addition of a barcoding system that was also integrated into the move project.

    This project featured a packing system that utilizes reusable as well as recyclable packing components. Not only was the crating system utilized reusable, the packing systems within individual interior boxes used very little dunnage (fill material). When it was used it was also reused multiple times. Materials used that required disposal were minimal. This project was completed in 2004 and some components are still in use now.

    The packing systems exploited existing commercial shipping technology to maximize safety and efficiency while minimizing cost and waste.

    Exploited materials not normally associated with fine arts packing and yet providing superior performance to traditional versions. Details in the use of HDPE and LLDPE will be available soon at the same site.

    Focused on systems that minimized handling of objects during a five step move line process.

    One of the only projects of its kind to come in on time and within its budget, this project took a large collection stored in a sub-standard environment, poorly documented, with many objects that were in extraordinarily fragile condition – moved and rehoused them in a state of the art facility with an almost non-existent level of damage (collections of this sort with failing repairs often have objects that have fallen apart on the shelves of their own weight) through the whole process.

    Collections Move Manual
    For the true packing geeks a more detailed publication including many step by step illustrations of packing methods developed for this move is due for release soon.

    A huge “thank you” to NMAI for their efforts on behalf of all of us who understand the need to continue to learn how to better care for the materials under our stewardship.

    NMAI’s Collection Move videos available to view online

    The Smithsonian Institutions – National Museum of the American Indian recently put links on their website that allow you to view short videos they produced that illustrate different aspects of their Collections Move Project that was completed in June of 2004.

    Video topics of this high profile project include: