National Museum of the Royal Navy
Polstore has been working in Museum Storage Solutions since the 1960s. It’s one of our specialisms – we’ve supplied over 400 museums throughout the UK! The particular requirements of the heritage sector centre around making collections as visible and as accessible as possible, whilst maintaining a high level of security and protection.
A common challenge we’re asked by our clients is to bring numerous disparate collections together, and this is exactly what we helped the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) to achieve. The NMRN was created in early 2009 to act as a singly non-departmental public body for the museums of the Royal Navy. With venues across the UK, the museums detail the history of the Royal Navy operating on and under the sea, on land and in the air bringing history to life. It showcases treasures from the past 350 years and examines the common threads which link the sailor of England’s ‘Wooden Walls’ to the professional crews of today.
The NMRN wanted to bring four separate museum collections together into one combined store. Logistics aside, the new home for the collection needed to increase in capacity. Accessibility of the new location also offered its own unique challenge, located on a first floor with very uneven flooring to manoeuvre and work around. Understandably, the collections had existing storage units which, if it was possible, the NMRN wanted to reuse, or certainly limit the waste they created.
The eclectic mix of collections posed a significant challenge. The design and survey team were put through their paces with the variety and number of assets to be stored. Space in the new museum was limited and the Curator had a specific vision for how the combined collections should be arranged and the experience the ser should take with them.
The uneven floors prevented the capacity of the space to be optimised just with standard units. The team had to find a solution to combat this and use as much height of the space as was possible.
Senior Conservator (Collection Care), Sadie Wilson explains why Polstore were selected to work with the NMRN on this key project:
“Design and quality were very important factors in the decision making process. It’s a tricky place for an installation and there was particular concern about the uneven floor. We went to market for three comparable quotes and felt that Polstore understood the project challenges and requirements the best. We knew the quality and design of Polstore products would meet our high standards. We’ve seen Polstore products in other museums as well as had recommendations from our contacts throughout the sector.”
NMRN met regularly with Managing Director, Adam, and the Polstore team to explore the challenges in as much detail as possible. The really tight space for the combined collection would need a thorough plan to ensure a smooth installation. The designers and installers worked closely together to plan the best layout of the space, ensuring this kept to the Curator’s vision.
“Any obstacles the installers came across, they just cracked on with finding solutions. We found it reassuring that Adam popped in at various times during the installation. We really felt well looked after.”
Polstore storage units were used throughout the new museum making use of every inch of space – in fact the height of the units reached the maximum for the building of 2.95m metres. To accommodate the uneven floor levels, adjustable feet were added to the shelving uprights.
Despite there being so many different sized assets across the four collections, security was never compromised for any single item. As an example, items stored vertically were given an individual location and locked into place with a horizontal security bar and hasp lock arrangement.
For quick access and audit ease, smaller items were able to be stored in lockable, museum grade drawer cabinets. We added a laminate worktop to create a multi use workstation and storage solution.
Sharing her thoughts on the end result, Sadie said:
“The design has enabled us to take collections from various sites and store them all safely and securely together. The new stores meet our set criteria, look great, are most importantly are simple, adaptable and not overly complicated. I particularly like the security bar which is subtle, allowing visibility of the collection whilst preserving security.
My biggest concern was always the impact of the uneven floor and whether there would be a disconnect between the designers and installers. But I needn’t have worried – the installers were great. Not phased by any issues found along the way.”
Despite the optimism to move racking from the old stores, in the end this wasn’t possible. The old metal racking did not offer the capacity needed by the NMRN and there was a risk of this not transporting and rebuilding well.
Exceptional storage solutions from Polstore
Polstore has been trusted by over 400 museums throughout the UK. Museum storage solutions are just one of Polstore’s specialist areas. Our decades of experience mean that whatever the size of your collection or type of asset, Polstore can create the right storage, retrieval and display solution for you. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.
Any obstacles the installers came across, they just cracked on with finding solutions. We found it reassuring that Adam popped in at various times during the installation. We really felt well looked after.