After Christmas, one of our priorities was to organise the decant of all objects from Vernon Park Museum before April. The objects were displayed in the basement of the museum, in various themed cases; ethnography, retail, male costume, female costume, education, archaeology, natural history, sound, photography, contemporary collecting, and WWII. Vernon Park will now become wholly run by Pure Innovations Ltd., who currently run a cafe in the building. It is a shame about the museum being taken out of the equation as it is a significant building for Stockport’s museum history, and it held such an eclectic mix of objects which many people choose to visit and have voiced their sadness about. Hopefully many of the objects will be redisplayed elsewhere, including after the redevelopment of Stockport Story museum which is starting soon after the completion of the Air Raid Shelters project.
Overall we removed over 2800 objects, and are still in the process of documenting the movements for each object and integrating them back into the collections storage. Some of the items have needed precautionary freezing before this can happen – especially the natural history taxidermy. Here are a few photographs from the move.
The move required multiple trips over the course of 3 months, many sheets of acid-free tissue paper for wrapping and packing, 56 boxes, and many individually wrapped large or bulky items. Some of the 56 boxes held under ten objects, some of them held hundreds. We had a list of the objects in each case and location, made corresponding labels for wrapping and checked each item off as they were wrapped and packed. Objects were also photographed as and when needed for the Modes database, as some of the objects on display had only brief records without an image on Modes. We numbered the boxes which we then updated in the Temporary Location field of Modes, so we could keep track of what had been boxed together and what had been put back once we were back at the stores. The wooden shelving units inside the display cases were also dismantled, and will be reused by Andy for various techincal projects (a good example of reusing what you can from exhibitions or permanent displays!). We also removed all of the drawers in the foyer which contained geology and natural history specimens, as well as the model skeleton much to the dismay of the cafe staff! I think they had become quite attached to him.
Some of the larger objects such as shop signage which were fixed to the walls in Vernon Park are now stored in the architectural salvage store. This is a secure storage unit which holds various large objects including shop doors, signage, outside lamps etc. I hadn’t been inside the salvage store yet this year, so it was interesting to see all of the goodies inside!
Once back at the collections store, we initially tried to keep up with putting the objects back into the collection but the boxes soon built up. As mentioned earlier, some of the records on Modes were rather brief so needed retrospectively upating with more detailed description and images. Many of the objects also needed properly marking to accreditation standard; they were previously labeled with a tag but not securely marked. So I did lots of sewing, marking with paraloid or writing with 2B pencil on the objects. This was required before the items could go into their new permanent location. Some of the objects also showed evidence of pests, such as Carpet Beetle caracsses or their frass (bug poop!) - and so required brushing and freezing before they could be put with the rest of the collection.
Some of the objects from Vernon Park were earmarked for use in the redevelopment of the Air Raid Shelters, for a new display of collection items in the reception and shop area. A new larger display case (which will also be better suited to protecting the objects from the harsh environmental conditions) has enabled us to choose a variety of objects, some which have not been on display before.
A trip to the IWM North in Trafford Quays meant we could see the way in which they display their variety of objects; the stands and plinths they have used for objects of varying size were excellent and were a good inspiration for presenting our lovely objects.
Our objects are currently spread out on a table in the stores (as in the earlier image), and have been re-jigged to see what looks best in what order. The most important issue is to give the objects height in the case and so we hope to have specific perspex stands for certain objects. The Air Raid Shelters site has been closed for a few weeks whilst the refurbishment of the reception and the installation of the new interpretation panels has been completed. There has been new flooring, improved electrics for the lighting and the shop has been refurbished. New interpretation panels have been installed by Andy and Katie, the new techincal trainee. Today the Air Raid Shelters are open again to the public, but there will be an official launch of the site later in June.
Overall the move of objects from Vernon Park has been a great experience, albeit a challenging one! Moving so many objects to a deadline and sorting the documentation and integration at the other end has been a long process and is still going on. With the Air Raid Shelters redevelopment happening simultaneously, as well as other day-to-day jobs, personal organisation (I love lists) and pulling together as a team has been crucial!