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Recycling and Reusing Archival Materials and Museum Furniture

Have you completed a collections move and found yourself left with a plethora of foam, polyester fiberfill, and boxes that you would happily share with another institution? Or maybe you’re moving out of storage space or just closed an exhibition and have furniture you can no longer use? Repurposing archival materials and museum furniture takes time and effort, which is often not built into our job descriptions.
As stewards of cultural heritage, we must be conscious of protecting our environment by not creating unnecessary waste. This presentation will focus on creative and efficient ways to share unwanted goods through community resources, furniture vendors, social media, and online classifieds.

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Recycling and Reusing Archival Materials and Museum Furniture

  1. 1. Recycling and Reusing Archival Materials and Museum Furniture
  2. 2. Speakers • Katie Fleming: Gallery Manager and Education Coordinator, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology • Barbara Hanson Forsyth: Senior Manager of Collections and Exhibitions at Mingei International Museum • Lisa Schmidt: Ambassador at CultureNut Xchange, a division of Exhibits Development Group
  3. 3. Buried in Batting! Katie Fleming Gallery Manager & Education Coordinator Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology Berkeley, California
  4. 4. The Move
  5. 5. Basketry & Textile Packing Scope: 10,000+ baskets and 12,000+ textiles needed to be assessed, photographed, packed and relocated Timeline: 2 years Team: 1 project manager, 5-8 preparators, 2 registrars, 1 conservator, lots of volunteers!
  6. 6. Packing Materials Used Cardboard boxes Packing Paper Polyester Fiberfill Bubble Wrap HDPE Plastic Bags Acid Free Tissue Ethafoam Archival board
  7. 7. • 1500lbs of polyester fiberfill • 5,000+ cardboard boxes • 200+ plastic pallets • 10,000+ sheets of packing paper • 3,000+ feet of bubble wrap Packing Materials by the Numbers
  8. 8. Reuse During the Move Sorting, labeling and re-using packing materials Fabrication of storage mounts for safety both during travel and long-term Modifications of storage furniture for travel Daily inventorying of materials Daily scheduled time for materials management Modifications of storage furniture for maximum reuse and functionality in new space
  9. 9. Redistribution Project – Finding Recipients Professional networks Social platforms Community Reuse Organizations Long shots!
  10. 10. Professional Networks Museum Associations Professional Networking Groups City and Community Arts Organizations Colleagues and friends
  11. 11. Social Platforms LinkedIn Craigslist Nextdoor Facebook Groups
  12. 12. Community Reuse Organizations SCRAP East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse Urban Ore Your local organization!
  13. 13. Long Shots! PTAs, teachers and schools Independent arts and community organizations Retirement communities Local makers Shipping organizations and movers with storage space
  14. 14. Obstacles Time Finding recipients Security Funding Institutional restrictions Space
  15. 15. Takeaways • Build a reuse and redistribution plan into your move or project • Use modular and durable materials whenever possible • Expect the unexpected • Build time into your work day for materials management and logistics • Develop and leverage community networks • If space allows, retain materials for your next project
  16. 16. There’s no such thing as a green collections move… But one can find creative solutions to reuse and repurpose furniture and other resources
  17. 17. Packing frenzy
  18. 18. Friday load-out days
  19. 19. Our temporary “staging” unit
  20. 20. A Game of Tetris
  21. 21. Packing drawers
  22. 22. Drawer “box” with objects packed in place and inventory list
  23. 23. Stacking drawers
  24. 24. Using drawers as boxes • Objects packed in place with plenty of tissue • Barcode stickers placed on each drawer • AWSD built custom inserts to go between the drawers so they could be stacked and placed on pallets
  25. 25. Left: Custom-made racking for rug storage serves as primary rug storage during renovation and overflow storage upon re-opening Right: Rolling “chest” of Spacesaver drawers
  26. 26. WMA Conference Recycling and Reusing Archival Materials & Exhibition Furniture
  27. 27. Platform Model Buyers FREE TO US the platform to browse, list in search of, and buy Platform Sellers FREE TO LIST Items for sale on the platform 39
  28. 28. The Problem: We watch museums and science centers throw valuable assets and products into the trash every day. ● Museums have little time to devote to deaccessioning ○ Removing the items is time sensitive ● Museums have numerous idle assets ○ Limited storage space ● Museums want Green solutions, but don’t practice what they preach ● There is no easy way to connect museums who are looking to buy/sell used exhibitory ● There is no existing marketplace platform to address their specific needs
  29. 29. Museum industry platforms or markets: 41 -Why -How -When -Who
  30. 30. More museums are focusing on sustainability, leverage CultureNut’s green nature to reach customers “Museums hold the diverse physical and intellectual resources, abilities, creativity, freedom, and authority to foster the changes the world needs most.” - The Museum Journal (April 2017) Take the pledge! Green efforts are increasingly important Museums will proudly display the CultureNut logo if they pledge to: ● Reduce waste during deaccessioning ● Recycle or resell 30% of no-longer used exhibitry items
  31. 31. Questions Lisa Schmidt hello@culturenut.com 651 335 4984
  32. 32. Break into four groups to discuss real world recycling obstacles
  33. 33. Regroup and Report Out