Working at National Museums Scotland (NMS) as Assistant Registrar for the last three months, I’ve become aware of the buzzing hive of activity on NMS’ Master Plan Project – Stage Three (aka MP3 project). I know that there are ten new galleries currently being redeveloped to make way for thousands of objects from the collection, that would have otherwise been hidden in storage for exclusive eyes only, to go on display during the summer of 2016 for the continued enjoyment of visitors in the museum. I also know that there are many people working across NMS sites in assisting with the thousands of object moves of all shapes and sizes, for example, the Hamilton Palace fireplace wall, of oak panelling and marble, measuring 5 metres high by 6.7 metres wide, that had to be installed in advance with the final fit-out of the gallery built around it. But what is the MP3 project and what are the key project management skills involved in managing a gallery redevelopment and collection move? What goes into planning and running a large-scale gallery redevelopment project?
Attending the UKRG third CPD event last Friday at National Gallery was a great opportunity to gain a better sense and understanding of this. My colleague Chanté St Clair Inglis, Collection Care Manager, presented a breakdown of the planning and work involved.
The goal is to move collection items from the museum at Chamber Street to the Collections Centre at Granton (20 minute journey time) and vice-versa, also to identify what kind of activity is required before movement, such as conservation, photography and the production of bespoke mounts (non-obtrusive structural support for museum objects, typically made from perspex, brass or other materials). Back in June-October of 2014, an estimated 4300 objects were moved out of the galleries prior to building construction and refurbishment. The museum now finds itself almost two years later moving over 3000 objects into the new galleries for unveiling at the start of July 2016.
The MP3 project is the third stage of a six phased project plan:
Phase 1 – Data Gathering: Key project info
·What is the overall goal of the project?
·What objects need to go on display or in storage?
·What are the key project deadlines – timescale, dependencies, to move in phases?
·Key information: quantity; size; type condition; documentation status; hazard status; current location; activity occur before movement?
Phase 2 – Move mapping: What is the current location and where will the end location be?
· Move sequence: What sequence/order should the collection be in when it is moved from storage to its interim location, and interim location to final location?
· Interim location: conservation; photography; mount making; object consolidation etc.?
· Standardise methods: movement sequence; collection assessment; packing; materials; procedures; documentation; location tracking.
Phase 3 – Resources and space required to deliver the move?
· Assess and analyse the data gathered from above.
· Explore your resources: people; materials; equipment.
· What space is needed? – dedicated space designed for objects and movement/workflow.
Phase 4 – ‘Enabling’ Period: Get it ready to move to new location?
· Document the activities
· Object treatment (conservation and hazards)
· Photography of 2000+ objects
· Mount making where necessary
· Object consolidation: sort objects into groups and gallery categories
· Explore space available: ‘Departure Lounge’ at NMCC, Granton and ‘Install depot’ at NMS, Chamber Street
· Space planning of ‘Departure lounge’ and ‘Install depot’
· Consider work flows
· Design packing: ‘light touch’ methods i.e. not too complicated
Phase 5 – Move Delivery: Move, track and report it!
Phase 6 – Sign off
· Final location updates
· Return equipment/material
· Project meeting, conclusion and evaluation
What I’ve taken away, and also witnessed at NMS, was a great sense of importance with engaging everyone involved in conversations throughout the processes mentioned above, especially with those who understand and have proficiency in the collection. Also, the importance of an accessible, visible and adaptable workflow breaking down all the components of the process and mapping out every valuable step, space, physical activity involved, whilst keeping an open bird’s eye approach.
It is an exciting time for the museum and the project, and I look forward to seeing and celebrating the final results of all their hard work and enthusiasm.
I would be interested to hear an update on NMS’ achievements and experiences at a future UKRG event.
Roz Vallejo, Assistant Registrar, National Museums Scotland.