Tempe, Arizona

Custom museum storage solutions

Custom cabinets create an otherworldly experience at the world's largest university-based meteorite collection.
App screenshot

The Arizona State University Center for Meteorite Studies is home to the world’s largest university-based meteorite collection. It houses more than 10,000 individual specimens, with the largest exceeding 700 pounds, and the collection is actively used for geological, planetary, and space science research at ASU and throughout the world.

The Center moved into a new building in 2012, which allowed for an unprecedented opportunity to expand and upgrade the collection. The Viking Metal Cabinet Company, which was acquired by Spacesaver in 2016, created a number of customized solutions for the project.

Project planners wanted to combine storage and display functions, according to Rebekah Hines, who helped head up the project for ASU. The vision was to not only store the collection but to also expose researchers and other visitors to the most stunning objects in the collection.

custom museum cabinets glass display
One of the project’s main goals was to immerse researchers and other visitors in the collection.

Custom Solutions for a Unique Collection

The first priority, of course, was the preservation and conservation of the collection itself. The project committee decided to create a humidity- and temperature-controlled space, the only one of its kind for this type of collection. They specified sealed metal cabinets with wooden drawers. Cabinet drawers needed to be interchangeable between cabinets with heights varying from 49.5” to 84”.

In order to create a space that would not only store the collection but also display it, the planning committee requested 12-sided counter-height cabinets in which alternating sections were configured with either storage drawers or glass shelving and built-in LED lighting to fully showcase the contents. Full-extension shelving needed to sustain hundreds of pounds of weight while being adjustable and easy to use.

All materials were required to be completely devoid of off-gassing, laminates, glues or silicones in order to protect the specimens.

"Designing 12-sided cabinets was a challenge, but it was also a lot of fun."

- Ben Adamitus, , Viking product engineer at Spacesaver

custom museum cabinets display lighting storage
custom museum cabinets display lighting storage
custom museum cabinets sealed glass doors
Our engineers can tackle any challenge. Our museum cabinet line now has entire teams of engineers, project managers, and craftspeople to help design and create museum storage solutions.
Spacesaver created a number of custom museum cabinets to meet the Center’s unique requirements.

Counter-height tapered cabinets were designed to create three perfect dodecagonic (twelve-sided) islands to complement and maximize the interior floor space. The lighting systems in the cabinets are wired to be controlled with one wall switch.

All cabinets are fully sealed and feature a custom powder-coat finish, heavy duty full extension shelves, one-half inch thick glass shelves, and full-height visual doors. Glass shelves can be interchanged with steel shelving, giving the cabinets complete flexibility.

Spacesaver provided 659 wooden drawers, all etched with the ASU logo on the face. This gives a high-profile look for the many tours given to VIPs, researchers, and other visitors.

Doors are fully removable with piano hinges. Each door closes in three locations to create a tight seal and the doors are flush-mounted with no visible handles.

Custom Museum Cabinets Protect & Display a Unique Collection

An Immersive Experience

At the start of the project, the planning team was considering a number of metal cabinet manufacturers, said Rebekah Hines, who helped lead the project. Already familiar with Spacesaver’s work at The Field Museum in Chicago, the team was confident that Spacesaaver could deliver.

“They stood out,” said Hines. “Most people wouldn’t even touch the project due to the weight of the specimens and the inability to exclusively use non off-gassing materials. We presented a design to Spacesaver, which they completely customized to make the project happen.”

Spacesaver provided a custom museum storage solution that created what Hines calls an “immersive experience” in which staff, researchers, and visitors are totally surrounded by extra-terrestrial material upon entering the space.

While we specialize in custom museum cabinets, we also offer a wide range of standard products.