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  1. #1
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    Storage for old art shipping crates

    I have a big problem with what to do with old art shipping crates and was hoping to get some ideas what others are doing about disposing of them. We have a very active loan program here at the MFAH and as is common in the industry, usually have high quality shipping crates made for our objects being transported to other venues. Once the objects have returned, we are faced with the dilemma of what to do with the old shipping crates. Many we hold on to for indefinite periods of time in the hope that it will go out on loan again soon and we can reuse the crate. Iím forming some solutions for our storage needs and was trying to come up with a way to deal with these expensive, shipping crates we no longer need that isnít based on ďhopeĒ. Keeping the crates, even for short periods of time after they return, is expensive and time consuming and I was wondering if some of my more creative colleagues out there may have a better solution than hauling them to the landfill. I have explored other options of recycling but was wondering how many of you were experiencing the same problems and what options you were exploring? Other than reuse, what other recycling solutions have you found helpful?

    Thanks,

    Richard Hinson
    Senior Preparator
    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    (713) 639-7734
    (281) 330-7260 cell

  2. #2
    Site Administrator Paul Brewin's Avatar
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    We've had some luck with giving away unwanted crates to other institutions, artists or the general public who loves anything for free via Craigslist, but we always have some leftover, especially big one, which get broken up and tossed. We try and save hardware on crates that get destroyed. As far as I know we haven't looked into recycling crate construction materials; raw unpainted wood is recyclable, but most crates are probably painted/sealed, or have foams attached, etc, making them difficult to recycle.
    Paul Brewin - PACCIN Site Administrator

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    Member JasonO's Avatar
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    The University Museum I used to work for had a large collection of used crates, they came in quite useful by being modified for shipping new items and saved some money. They were just stored in a off-site space that was partially secure and mostly temperature controlled ... I think the University had some sort of physics labs in the same building so there was no rent.

    I am also a member of the RCAAM listserv and there have been a few strings going around recently about museums needing to rent crates, perhaps your extra crates would find good homes via that listserv?

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the information. We currently have about 3,000 SF of off-site storage at one of the local storage companies, (North American). The problem with this situation is we have so many crates each year, we keep dumping them there and fill the space pretty quickly forcing us to do an inventory and dispose of the crates from that location. What I'd like to do is have some alternatives to keeping them and disposing of them at a later date. Thanks for looking at the website and contributing solutions.

    Richard

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    Paul,

    Thanks for the information. Last December we busted up enough crates to fill two forty yard dumpsters. That was the third time last year we had a cratesmash and the fourth and fifth 40-yard dumpsters we filled with old crates. Gathering, organizing, and disposing of these crates occupies a lot of my time and takes me away from my primary job of managing two off-site warehouses. I've tried giving the crates away to local artists and organizations, but it ended up being as much or more work than just dumping the in a landfill. I have to weigh my time and the cost of additional help to destroy these crates. I haven't considered Craigslist but it is a good suggestion. I'll look into that.

  6. #6
    Member JasonO's Avatar
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    Whew! That's alot of material ... sorry no real ideas. I think most wood recyclers make you pay to dump wood. I don't think plywood makes very good mulch either. And for both of those you would have to take out all the screws, not good.

    I did run across this however (http://www.containerexchanger.com/how_to_sell.php) maybe that could help? There are a few want ads up there, including someone who needed 100 crates in NY by august.

    There are alot of us unemployed museum types out there right now, I bet you could find some one in the Houston area to help out with your crates. Especially check the art history grad schools and art schools.

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    Thanks again. More useful information. I'll look into both of your suggestions

  8. #8
    PACCIN Advisory Committee Member T. Ashley McGrew's Avatar
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    Hey Richard,

    One museum I know of adds a layer of material (gator board in this case but could be coroplast or whatever since that would be thinner) inside their crates. All their padding is attached to that an just tacked inside with screws. The entire interior can be gutted and reconfigured that way. If you used this method you could keep a selection of crate shells in different sizes and just store crate (innards) for specific artworks. There is less waste, less room required and you get to keep some of the most labor intensive portions of the crate.
    The only other thing that I have heard of is that some folks put out announcements on either Craigs list or Freecycle. The big tip it seems is not to describe them as art crates but as "large wooden boxes with detachable lids" or some such thing. The idea I guess is that there are all kinds of uses for the boxes - far more than there is need for art crates.
    Cheers,

    Ashley

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    Site Administrator Paul Brewin's Avatar
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  10. #10
    PACCIN Advisory Committee Member T. Ashley McGrew's Avatar
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    Paul,
    Maybe we are being too hasty here.
    Richard how about selling "genuine Houston MFA" art-crate-furniture out of the museum shop?
    I see book cases.....
    You could include its provenience in terms of a photo of it with artwork inside. Something like "If you can't buy the Art you can at least buy the crate".
    What do you think? No?
    Ok whatever

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