Libertyville, Illinois

Optimal Collections Storage Layout at a County Museum

Staff at the Dunn Museum in Libertyville, Illinois, turned an office building’s basement into a model collections care and storage facility.
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New Location, New Approach

When staff at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County first began thinking about relocating the museum to a repurposed office building, they initially wanted to house the collections upstairs. They were excited about the possibilities: the collections would be organized in innovative ways and would be more open and accessible than they had been before.

Over time, though, due to floor-loading issues and other concerns with the above-ground floors, they realized that the building’s basement would be the only practical place to keep the collections. Although they were disappointed at first, they realized that the large basement presented an excellent opportunity to determine an optimal collections storage layout.

After a thorough needs assessment and extensive design consultations, they were able to create a collections care and storage facility that showcases best practices in collections management.

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Dunn museum collection of artifacts on high-density mobile storage system
"We have a significantly improved collections care facility that is much better for staff to work in, much better for the artifacts, and that will enable us to do more and better work."

- Andrew Osborne , Superintendent of Educational Facilities

Optimal Preservation for Archives

The new archives area is designed to simplify workflows and create an optimal preservation environment, while also maximizing space. For instance, Spacesaver’s flat-file cabinets do double duty: the cabinets provide protection for large maps and other paper items that should be stored flat, while also supporting a countertop that serves as a convenient workspace. The museum saved even more space by installing shelving for books and archival boxes on a compact mobile system.

Museum curator pulling out drawer on Spacesaver preservation cabinets
Museum curator pulling out drawer on Spacesaver preservation cabinets

Easy Access to Framed Art and Textiles

Framed art and textiles had previously been stored in various areas around the museum, and they took up a lot of space. The new collections area features a series of Spacesaver’s art racks and textile racks on compactors, providing efficient storage for hanging art as well as rolled textiles like flags and blankets. The textile racks are fully configurable, with various tube lengths and adjustable arms, which means that every cubic inch of space can be used.

Clothes storage in high-density mobile storage system and rolled textiles stored on rolled textile racks
historic artifact storage on display on art rack
Framed paintings stored on mobile floor mounted art racks

Protecting from Water Damage

Because the collections storage area is located in a basement, staff were concerned about the possibility of leaks from overhead plumbing. To prevent the risk of water damage, they asked Spacesaver for water shields that would fit on top of the compact shelving units in the archives. These systems are designed to keep water off shelving and channel it away.

Water shields are just one of the ways we can help mitigate risk in museums and archives. Download our guide to learn more.

High-density mobile storage system with graphic pointing out water guards

Protecting Artifacts

In order to minimize handling and disturbance, museum staff wanted to be able to access and view artifacts without moving them, and without needing to move other objects out of the way. Cabinets fitted with pull-out trays provided the ideal solution. To make the most of limited space, widespan shelving and cabinets were fitted onto compactors that glide along rails.

Museum collection of larger objects stored on high-density mobile storage system
Shoe collection stored on pull-out trays
Museum staff member showing collection stored on pull out trays

An Enduring Solution

Through smart planning and purchasing, staff at the Dunn Museum were able to transform a less-than-ideal location into a showplace. And by choosing Spacesaver as the single-source provider for cabinets, compactors, rolled textile racks, and other equipment throughout the entire collections care and storage facility, the museum was able to simplify purchasing and project management processes.

Museum collection in Spacesaver 920 Series Preservation cabinets