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Friday, May 17 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
(Collection Care) Sustainable Storage: Reducing Energy, Protecting Culture, and Saving Money

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Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library hosts a collection of nearly 90,000 fine and decorative arts objects, supporting a historic house with 175 period-room displays, gallery exhibits, reference library and manuscript collections, as well as educational programs. While the museum has a long and prideful history of having the majority of its objects on display, this perception does not reflect the new reality. Up through the present, Winterthur has relied on most of its “negative space”—anywhere out of the visitor’s gaze—to fill with all of the objects that are not currently on display. With objects tucked in corners, stacked too high, and often inaccessible, in no way is the current storage situation at Winterthur environmentally, socially, or economically sustainable. Two years into a 10-year project, Winterthur is committed to establishing an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable plan for accessible storage. With a team of internal and external consultants to review all areas of Winterthur’s collections storage, the goal is to create an institution-wide, comprehensive plan for long-term storage that factors and anticipates educational and programmatic access needs of staff and the public, and short-term and long-term financial and environmental impact. Winterthur will design two or three conceptual scenarios that could make Winterthur’s collections widely accessible for the coming decades. A matrix for evaluating the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of possible solutions will then be applied to each conceptual possibility. By the end of 2020, this matrix will help Winterthur to determine and begin to implement the most sustainable option for a “green storage building.” While the majority of currently available research focuses on the operation of institutions as a whole, this paper details the needs for implementing an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable strategy within the storage facilities of a museum, with the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library serving as a case study. As the Museums Association reports, an average museum associates roughly two-thirds of its costs to the collecting and safeguarding of objects. Short of proper planning, “optimal” museum storage facilities can easily become large, inefficient, energy-consuming wastes of space. Without a sustainable solution, with rising energy costs, and visitor attendance constantly in threat of decline, the exertion needed to store a museum’s collection will only intensify. The goal is for the tool that Winterthur is developing to evaluate the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of different storage solutions—from construction materials, to environmental controls, to general accessibility—in the both the short-term and the long-term. Winterthur hopes this tool to be available to other institutions. This presentation will include a description of the tool, how it is used, and opportunities to offer feedback.


Jesse Kraft

Unidel Louise Roselle Graduate Assistant, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Jesse Kraft is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Program in American Civilization at the University of Delaware, and holds an M.A. in American Studies from Stockton University. For the past year, Jesse has worked at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library as the Unidel Louise Roselle... Read More →

Friday May 17, 2019 3:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Salon A2-A3, Uncas Ballroom Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Collection Care