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Collection Storage Project

Non-archival boxes previously used.
Non-archival boxes previously used.

This summer, MOA’s curatorial team began its next big project to repack ethnographic artefacts and maps in our collection storage area. Thanks to a grant from the London Community Foundation, MOA was able to purchase archival quality storage materials which will allow us to preserve our remarkable collection for many more generations to come. While it sounds like an easy project, repacking artifacts isn’t as simple as taking things out of one box and putting them in another.  So how are we going about this?

MOA’s ethnographic and map collection consists of more than 3000 objects.  Due to the size of this project, the curatorial team used this opportunity to inventory the entire collection by going through each box one by one.  For every object found in a box, the curatorial team updated its catalogue record, location, condition report, and took digital pictures.  After a box was complete, all objects were re-wrapped in acid free tissue with a new object barcode placed on the tissue surrounding each object.

Artifact properly wrapped and labeled.
Artifact properly wrapped and labeled.

So why are we using a barcode?  Barcodes are a handy way to tell what an object is without actually removing it from its protective wrapping. Our barcode system includes the accession number and image right on the sticker then the barcode itself can be scanned using any downloadable barcode app which lets us view the object’s information on our mobile devices.

After the inventory was complete, we calculated the sizes and number of boxes we would need to properly house the collection. Over 250 acid free boxes were purchased for our collection as well as new tags and archival ink for labeling our rare books and maps.

New acid free boxes housing artifacts.
New acid free boxes housing artifacts.

While the project has been going well, there have been a few challenges along the way.  As we were sifting through the maps, we found a box that had gotten wet at some point in the past and the maps inside were now in need of conservation. We immediately removed the damaged maps from the collection and placed them in containment until they can be looked at by a conservator.

We are fortunate there haven’t been many surprises thus far, however due to the scale of this project and the amount of materials we are still handling there are bound to be some more bumps along the way.

Stay tuned for updates and blog posts as we pave our way through this project.  If you want to help with our conservation efforts, please check out our Adopt an Artifact Program.  All funds raised through this program go to the care and conservation of MOA’s collection.


-The Curatorial Team-

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