Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It is done.

The collections move, that is. We completed the move between March 21 and March 25th. It took maybe 3 days all told. I didn't take many photos; I was too busy lifting lots and lots of boxes. But here's how it went down:

First, we identified which boxes we were going to pack. Then we checked them off of the master box list and loaded them into the van.
Collections Move
Then I drove very carefully to the new location, backing up to the museum loading dock. Believe you me, I got pretty darn good at backing up the full sized van we used. We then unloaded the boxes onto tables in the workroom. We would do a couple of loads of boxes before the tables were full and ready for the next step.
Collections Move
From the tables, the boxes were transferred to shelves in the compactor unit, based on what they contained. Both the master box list and the packing list on the outside of each box indicated where the box should go. As we placed each box on a shelf, we marked the shelf on the master box list. And pretty soon, we had moved a lot of boxes.
Collections Move
There were a few objects which were too large to pack in boxes. These objects were moved individually and placed on shelves - no need to unpack what hasn't been packed!
Collections Move
And, finally, after all the boxes that could go in the compactors were put in the compactors, we moved the oversized boxes into the storage room, where they are still hanging out today.
Collections Move
So far, nothing has been unpacked. There are four reasons for this: 1) after the move was completed, I hied it out of here for an extended weekend and some rest, 2) I've had to unpack all the supplies, files, and miscellany from the old office and workspace into the new office and workspace, 3) we're going to need to cut many many shelf liners for some of the objects to rest on (the liners provide a surface with more friction than the metal shelves), and, most importantly, 4) the objects in the boxes are now in a much different environment than they have been for the past decade or more and need time to adjust to their surrounding. The cardboard box provides a bit of a buffer to the environmental change, allowing a slower adjustment rather than shock treatment. Think of the difference between easing yourself into a cool swimming pool and diving in.

But we'll be unpacking soon enough. As soon as the chaos in the office is cleared up...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Beyond Collections

This museum is more than the collections it holds, although they are a very important part. Recently, the interim director of the museum, Dr. Bill Wood, spoke with the radio station on campus. Click to listen to his interview.

He talks about our mission, the history of the museum, and our current series of workshops. Check it out!

It's the Final Countdown!

Well, less space travel, more short distance travel in a minivan.

But yes! It is the final countdown to moving here in the collections department. Everything that can be packed is packed, with the exception of my desk, which I plan to deal with at the exact last minute. But the rest of the office is packed:

The storage rooms are all set to go. The interns finished packing on the very last day of their internships. Perfect timing!
Native American room:
World room:

This week I've been getting the new space ready for the move, unpacking the last of the lithics that we moved last month, and doing the paperwork to make sure everything is cleanly and clearly documented for the move. Today I plan to do some more data entry/paperwork and vacuum the tracks of the compactor storage (a surprising amount of debris accumulates in those!). And I plan to make triply sure that we are ready to move come Moving Day. Truly, we're in the final countdown.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Packing the baskets

Now that we're mostly done packing the World room, we've moved on to the Native American collection. This means that we are packing many, many baskets. I thought I would give you a run down on the packing process.

The first thing to do is assemble a box, choosing the large or small size of box depending on what you're packing. Then find the next box number (we're up to box 225) and write it on the box in three place and on the packing list. Then, to be brief, put some stuff in the box. Make sure the stuff isn't going to shift when moved, and isn't being crushed. This usually results in a box looking like this:
Packing the baskets
or this:
Packing the baskets
Those objects are being surrounded by packing foam with a buffer layer of either tyvek or archival tissue paper. This method of packing ensures that objects are safe against the box tilting and minor vibration. What it does not ensure against is the box falling or being placed upside down. We will be relying on constant vigilance to ensure that nothing ends up upside down.

Each object in the box is listed on the packing list. The packing list is then entered into a master spreadsheet and each object's temporary location is updated in the PastPerfect database (ie "Object packed in Box 215 for the move to Dean Hall"). Once this step is complete and no errors have been found, the boxes are closed, the packing list is slipped into an adhesive envelope and stuck to the box where it will stay until the box is unpacked sometime this spring. So the final box looks like Box 191 in this photo.
Packing the baskets

And after that... the boxes are stacked in corners and shelving columns until moving day! And moving day is coming up fast. Two weeks from today!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sure signs of spring

Spring is springing. There are signs of it all around. The birds are singing, the snow is melting on the hills, and flowers are poking their heads out of the ground (or the landscaping crew has started their work, anyway).
Springtime on campus
The packing is going well! We're just over 2 weeks out from the move, so this is the final push. Yesterday morning, intern Kim and I tackled packing the large New Guinea shields. We secured three shields at a time to cardboard and placed them in mattress boxes. Here's Kim lining the bottom of the boxes with foam, and a rare sighting of the collections manager in the wild (that's me with my back turned):
Packing the shields
We have the world collections room almost entirely packed at this point, except for some very large pieces and some masks which are being researched by the curation and collections management course. We've taken out the shelves and are storing the boxes in the resulting spaces.
A lot more work needs to be done in the Native American collections room. The objects there are generally less complex, and the interns and I have a lot more practice, so I'm confident that we can get this done in the next two weeks. We've a running start, having packed the lithics, and now have the beading and much of the southwestern pottery packed.
I've been working toward this move for so long, it's amazing to think it's almost here! We've even started unpacking some of the lithics into the new Dean Hall space, which is very very exciting. We unpacked 23 boxes yesterday. That was especially good, since we need those boxes back here to pack more!

And, by the by, this is the 100th post! Confetti! Streamers! Balloons! Cake! Thanks for reading everyone!