8 Easy Steps to Prepare a Museum for a Big Move

14 March 2017

The Postal Museum looks after over 400 years of communication history so moving our entire collection to a new location is not an easy task. Our Curator Joanna explains what it takes to tackle each stage of the process.

Audit at The Postal Museum

1. Plan

There are lots of questions to answer when planning the move of a museum collection: how many objects need to move? How much space will they take up at the new site? What do we need to do to ensure the collection is fit to move, how long will it take, and how many people do we need to help? The first step in moving a collection is to answer these questions. There are many other issues to consider, but what follows is an introduction to how The Postal Museum team tackled some of the bigger questions and problems we had to deal with…

2. Audit

Document each object with a thorough description, note its condition, and record its location, so you can make sure everything has arrived safely on the other side. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore your collection and unearth some treasures and stories. Disclaimer – this involves A LOT of counting; for example, we’ve counted over 10,000 buttons!

GPO Buttons from The Postal Museum collection

3. Pack

Pack every object with archival materials. Weigh each box, then apply a weight label and a unique box reference number. We’ve packed over 1,500 boxes, and new acquisitions are still coming in. Believe it or not, it’s taken over four and a half years to pack our collection, with the help of many of our wonderful volunteers and placement students.

Packing The Postal Museum’s Collection Items

4. Rationalise space

Move boxes so that like sizes are together. This will make the most of the space available.

Boxed Items in The Postal Museum Archive

5. Separate objects going on display

As well as preparing the collection to move, we’re mounting our most ambitious displays in almost two decades. With over 250 objects to install, we decided to move the display objects into a designated area, so they could be efficiently transferred into their new display cases once the new exhibition spaces are ready.

6. Conservation

Every object going on display needs to be assessed by Conservators and some will need treatment. Some objects require conservation treatment to move safely and some will need bespoke packaging.

Storing Items at Conservation Studio

7. Clean

All display objects need a good clean so they look their best.

Conservators Barbara and Jackie polishing a pillar box

8. Seal

Seal each box and don’t open it again until it is audited at the new museum.

We can’t wait to welcome you to our shiny new Discovery Room in mid-2017, where you will be able to browse and explore what our archive has to offer.

Sign up here to be the first to know about our opening date.

See you on the other side!

– Joanna Espin, Curator