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Specialising in Museum Storage

When you look at the range of items a museum needs to store and archive, the one thing you can guarantee is that no two items are the same! Finding a system which can deliver a bespoke solution can be tricky. Throw in the limited storage space which most museums face, the challenge becomes even harder.

Fortunately, with over 70 years of working within the storage industry, Whittan has had a lot of experience delivering unique, and sometimes unusual, storage systems that create ideal solution. It’s this expertise we have developed which has enabled us to work in partnership museums across the UK to successfully deliver bespoke solutions that meet their needs.

It’s through our work with museums that we want to join ICOM (International Council of Museums) on the 18th of May in celebrating International Museum Day.


What is International Museum Day?

Since 1977, ICOM has dedicated this day to museums, acknowledging the role they play in providing us with vital research, cultural exchange, heritage preservation and so much more. ICOM is a membership association and a non-governmental organisation that establishes professional and ethical standards for museum activities.

Every year they choose a theme which aims to raise public awareness about the challenges museums face, encouraging thousands of professionals and people across the globe to discuss the issue and plan a solution. Last year, more than 37,000 museums participated in the event from over 158 countries and territories.

This year the theme focuses on ‘Museums for Education and Research’, looking at the indispensable role of museums as centres for learning, exploration, curiosity, and innovation which are all essential qualities to deepen our understanding of the world we live in.


How does Whittan work with museums?

A well-designed storage system can have a great impact on encouraging education and research. How? Well, that’s due to their role in helping museums protect and preserve their collection. Let’s face it, these artifacts can deteriorate over time and if we want to protect them for future studies, it’s important to have the right space and environment it needs.

But with their ever-increasing collections, how can museums protect everything? That’s the issue, the more artifacts they treasure, the more space they will need. It’s up to storage experts like us to provide them with the best solutions.

Fortunately, at Whittan, we can provide everything your museum needs. From the very simple, such as the runs of shelving we supplied to store the 10,000 historical archive documents at the Black Cultural Archives, right through to specialist requirements that work seamlessly together. This was just the case when we worked with the Postal Museum in London. They’re collection included everything from high value artefacts stored in a secure vault, boxed items, large binders, rolled items, large format plans, drawings, uniforms and even pictures. Shelving would not provide the only solution and it also required a mix of mobile racking, cantilever racking as well as specialist archive equipment such as plan chests and wall mounted picture racking.

We can even meet the challenges of difficult storage spaces. For example, when we worked with Glamorgan Archive, they needed a shelving installation which would maximise storage volume. Mobile shelving provided the perfect solution, and it was used for the majority of the storage facility on each environmentally controlled floor. While at Tate Gallery we successfully installed a range of storage systems even though the access was more challenging due to it being stored in an underground bunker. Read on to discover our work with the museum.


Case Study

Since opening its doors to the public in 1897, the Tate Gallery has collated a wide collection of British artworks, including pieces dating back to the 1500s. Today the gallery boasts four major gallery sites and a collection of nearly 70,000 artworks seen by millions of visitors every year.

For over 10 years, Tate had stored their collection at a former Ministry of Defence munitions depot which had been transformed into a climate-controlled storage facility. As their collection has expanded, Tate Gallery wanted to review and enhance their current storage systems with a view to improving and increasing when needed. However, the museum had a problem. As an underground bunker, increasing the floor space was not an option for this location and instead, would need a flexible solution that worked within the footprint of the building.

Working closely with Tate, Whittan discussed various options and agreed on a redesign of their static shelving which would incorporate additional sections to accommodate delicate objects that cannot be subject to movement. All shelves have a 25mm front edge to facilitate labelling and have the option to add additional dividers to the space.

To increase storage capacity without the need to alter the footprint of the facility, mobile shelving units were installed. The shelving sits next to each other, removing the need for permanently open aisles. When a particular item is required, the unit rolls along a track to create the aisle. Finally, eight A0 drawer units were installed. Each unit contains five drawers and can be stacked on top of each other.

In total an additional 216 bays of storage were installed, significantly increasing storage capacity without the need to alter the footprint of the facility.  Spanning a total of 20 days (including dismantle of existing Stormor shelving), the project was a great success and enabled Tate to preserve some of their most treasured collections for future generations.


Why work with Whittan?

While supplying a storage system for museums may seem daunting to many, with our 70 years of industry experience, you can rest assured that we have the expertise to provide you with the full solution you need. From designing, supplying, and installing to even inspecting your racking, we are committed to delivering excellence at every stage of the process.

You can also be assured that our products offer exceptional quality and durability. Our solutions are designed in line with British Standards requirements, meet the relevant SEMA Codes and as a member of the British Safety Council, we are committed to keeping people safe and healthy in the workplace.


Why not get in touch today and find out how we can help your museum.

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