A guest post from Kate Sherburn, Curatorial Assistant (Natural Environments) about some of the work that has been taking place behind the scenes:
Before embarking on our hello future development, we carried out a lot of preparation work behind the scenes. One of the first steps was to empty the large object store on the first floor which was full of oversized specimens from across the museum collections. This store will become our new exhibition prep space and will be vital to supporting world-class touring exhibitions in our new gallery.
The next task was to move the specimens from the large object store into their appropriate collection stores. This included material ranging from a bison and a giant crocodile to 12-foot-long archaeology casts; we even discovered some treasures that we thought had been lost from the Egyptology collection! Once all the oversized specimens had been accommodated we could then move on to find new homes for the smaller specimens.
Back in April the museum held an all staff “de-clutter day” and this gave us the chance to review our storage spaces and get rid of any unused furniture. As well as repurposing the unused furniture, we also took the opportunity to get rid of clutter from our stores, allowing us to identify available spaces that could be used for storage. These spaces were all fitted with racking to maximise our storage capacity; a task requiring lots of team work and logistical planning both to move specimens to safe temporary locations and to create room for the racking to be installed.
Once one store-room was completed we moved on to the next and it became a giant game of Tetris to find safe spots to house and move things in the right order so that the next piece of work could happen.
Alongside all of the physical work, we have also had to make sure that everything we did was documented using our KE-EMu database; this involved entering the new location for every item we moved.
Once the building work begins, the contractors will need access to some of our other stores. In preparation for this, we have been working to ensure that the collections in these stores will be safe and secure during this period. In one case, this has involved emptying the whole store and therefore, we have had to pack everything up so that the contents can all be rehoused.
As well as all of the work that has been carried out behind the scenes, we have also been working hard to store material that is being taken off display. To make space for the new entrance and Museum shop, we had to empty the mineral gallery and then return all of the specimens to their stores. We have also been working to pack away the Living Cultures gallery so that a new staircase can be installed, and this task is almost complete. Now that our visitors have had the chance to say a fond farewell (for now) to our beloved Ancient Egyptian material, our next task will be to start packing up the Ancient Worlds Galleries in preparation for the construction work.
Staff from across disciplines have come together to enable this work to be completed. We are also working hard together to come up with exciting things we can offer on our revamped top floor, as well as creative ways to take our museum outside to meet you.
Now the prep is nearly complete our hello future transformation can really begin!