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Collections on the move

20 Jan 2017

Susan Isaac

Later this year we’ll be moving to temporary accommodation during the redevelopment of our home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. We wanted to give our colleagues in the RCS the opportunity to see how the Library, Museum and Archive teams are preparing for the move, so we hosted an event in the Barry Reading Room a few months ago, showcasing some of our objects and projects already underway. It showed how vital it was that every part of our collections is carefully recorded, packed and tracked so that nothing is damaged or lost.

Museums

The Museum have 57,344 objects covering:

  • human and animal specimens - wet, dry and microscopic preparations
  • visual works - paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures
  • medical equipment and instruments

Collections on the Move: Museum 1

Museum staff demonstrated how specimens are being repacked into purpose-made containers. To give an idea of the biggest and smallest items, the display included a four-foot sawfish rostrum (its ‘saw’) and a jar of tiny inner ear bones.

Collections on the Move: Museum 2

Library

The Library holds 114,163 items. Books in the collection vary greatly in size: the biggest has a spine that is two and half feet long, whilst the smallest fits into the palm of your hand. A cataloguing project has been running since January 2016 to ensure that every item has a catalogue record so that it can be tracked throughout the moving process.

In August, we ran a pilot packing project. Volumes were vacuumed to remove dust, then wrapped in acid free tissue paper and labelled. Staff demonstrated this process, which included making ‘phase’ boxes, showing how they are individually measured to fit any books in need of more protection.

Collections on the Move: Library

Archives

The RCS Archives are unique, representing over two centuries of history, and are stored in 3,086 boxes.

The Archives team showed the contents of two boxes from the collection to demonstrate the variety of materials we have and the storage solutions used. It’s important that when the boxes are transported, the material inside them can’t move around to avoid damage.

Collections on the Move: Archives

The event was a great success, with staff answering questions about the collections and the challenges of preparing them for the move. A quote from an email sums it up:

"I guess I always knew that there were lots of elements to consider but it was great to see and hear first-hand what your enthusiastic and knowledgeable team are doing behind the scenes to help make this project successful…”

We will be posting more stories about the projects mentioned and our progress in the coming months, so look out for the tagline ‘Collections on the move’. Please get in touch if you have any questions or leave us a comment.

Find out more information about the future of the Lincoln’s Inn Field building.

Susan Isaac, Information Services Manager


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