This session focused on The Burrell Collection refurbishment and the role that collections management, in particular collections management software, played in this project. The talk was divided into two sections, during the first part Linda Keohone, Collections and Access Officer, outlined some of the challenges and creative solutions they had developed to manage these. In the second AnnMarie Masson, Collections and Access Officer, discussed how they used their CMS, Mimsy XG, to plan the installation of objects in the new gallery spaces.
The Burrell Collection itself contains approximately 9,000 objects and includes both 2D and 3D items. The project began in 2015/6 with an inventory project where all items were weighed, measured, and photographed. Over the course of the next few years items were packed and removed to external storage at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.
The team took a very collaborative approach to the design of the new stores, every few drawings the Conservation Department, Logistics and Learning & Access departments were asked for their feedback. However, the most useful feedback came from the Technicians, the team suggested that changes were made to the orientation of shelving to improve light, access, and remove pinch points. Linda recommended that museum staff should be as involved as they can in the design process, with as much information as possible given to the company. From her experience, Linda also thought that it was better to be onsite for the fitout to pre-empt any issues.
Storage space was reduced after the refurbishment so high-density storage replaced the old units and adaptions such as using boxes to maximises space and removing the false ceiling to gain height were made.
One of the new and most interesting elements of the redesign was the use of an interactive glass screen between the public side and the stores. On this screen films were shown about objects in the collection and the project, after the films had finished, the screen would clear to reveal the stores behind them. Linda commented that visitors often thought that the view of the store was still part of the film and were then shocked when members of staff would wave at them!
In the next segment, AnnMarie demonstrated the importance of good data management! The Curatorial & Conservation teams were able to use Mimsy to create lists of items for display and note which objects required a Conservator to be present for installation. The Conservation team also inputted information which enabled the mount makers to pull relevant information for any mounts which needed to be produced, and the system was used to match objects with the cases they were to go into. Quite possibly the most spectacular use of the database (if you are a Collections Management geek) was the reports which highlighted the risk level for each case. As the team knew the value of the objects going into the case and the location where the case was going in the museum, they could risk assesses each individual case!