Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Long term storage inside crates

  1. #1

    Long term storage inside crates

    I work for an organization that is currently planning a move from dedicated art storage rental space to our own facility. We have planned environmental controls, RH levels, temp, etc but we are trying to figure out what is the best option for long term storage.
    I'd prefer to go with sliding hanging racks like those offered by Spacesavers, or at least built in slotted racks for the storage of the paintings in our collection. I know when I ask for the money to purchase this I'm going to get asked why we can't just keep them in their crates. I know accessibility, space and less handling is better for the works, but are there reasons such as the art needs to breathe, or the off gassing of the wood is bad for the work? It would help me to know why, other than ease of use, crates are not typically used to store paintings within.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    If your museum is like any that I have worked with, if there isn't currently a premium on storage space, there will be. The a large part of the idea of sliding racks and compact storage is to get the maximum amount of collections into a minimal space. The thickness of even the slimmest of crates will probably reduce the amount you are able to store by 50% at the least.

    Storage in crates is also less than ideal as the access to the works becomes logistically very difficult. Think of the little tile puzzles where you slide one up, another over into that space, etc... except in three dimensions. Storing in crates should ideally be in crates that were designed with long-term storage in mind and have surfaces sealed and with all contact points having proper barrier materials to protect the art. It is done this way in commercial art storage for certain objects, but not as often in museum.

    An even more important thing to me is the fact that the object is held away from view. It is externally protected but becomes very difficult to inspect for less apparent types of damage that develop over time (molds, insects, inherent vice deterioration). Out of sight, out of mind. You haven't mentioned any possible seismic concerns, but the Toronto location on your post leads me to believe this isn't a problem.

    I hope some of that helps. I'm sure you are aware of much of it, but it may help reinforce your position.

    Good Luck.
    Jamie Hascall
    Chief Preparator,
    Museums of New Mexico
    Santa Fe

  3. #3
    PACCIN Advisory Committee Member T. Ashley McGrew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    San Francisco, CA
    Hi Jessica,

    Excellent question. The reasons that artwork are typically not stored in crates are a combination of the reasons you suggest and then the ones that Jamie responded with space, access etc...
    Actual storage crates (designed for this purpose) are a whole other animal requiring specialized materials sometimes including things like activated charcoal or corrosion intercept materials. They are very costly and rarely purchased.
    If for some reason you do need to make an exception about the only thing you can do is to ventilate the crate to prevent a build up of pollutants. I once came accross a situation where the painting was too big to actually fit into the institution's storage area! in that situation you can open the crate and then close the lid again with small blocks placed in-between the crate body and lid finally covering it with a breathable material to minimize dust. Also less or non sensitive materials like stone sculptures are sometimes stored that way.
    Generally though there is a very high level of consensus on this topic. If you have real budget issues "binning" small and medium sized paintings is an underutilized method in my book. That way you can save premium screen space for larger paintings.
    T. Ashley McGrew
    PACCIN Advisory Committee member

  4. #4
    Member JasonO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    Here is a short post on making your own storage racks:

    Also, we've been de-framing almost all of our works on paper so they can be properly stored flat (in their mats) in map cabinets (you can find these used everywhere) which allows the painting rack space to be cleared up.

  5. #5
    Thanks so much! This is very useful information.

  6. #6
    You could also consider Artys Transit as an alternative for art storage facilities.
    Last edited by Pop Alexandra; 07-18-2023 at 10:56 PM.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts