de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

Collections Storage Renovation

In April 2003, the de Saisset Museum was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant of $258,635 for the stabilization of the permanent collection through the purchase and installation of high-density storage units in a newly consolidated, secure, environmentally controlled collection storage area. The renovation of the Museum's collection vault helps preserve objects for future use and creates more efficient accessibility for scholars and researchers. At the time of the award, the Museum's collection was held in seven separate storage areas throughout the building in varying states of accessibility.

In May 2005 volunteers, student employees, and Museum staff participated in a training session that described the methods and procedures for moving the permanent collection from the three major basement storage areas into temporary storage in the Museum's auditorium. Temporary shelves and bins were constructed to house the collection in the auditorium, which was closed to the public and secured for the duration of construction. Temporary office space for the Collections Manager, Preparator, and student staff were also set up in the auditorium.

The collection move began on June 13, and the basement was emptied of art and artifacts in five working days. Four professional art handlers from Lawrence Fine Arts, South San Francisco, spent two days moving the heavier, bulkier, and more awkward works that could not be moved by volunteers. The locations of all objects were carefully tracked, and the work of properly storing and tracking the works continued after the basement was emptied.

The construction phase of the project began July 5, 2005. Demolition of the space included the removal of concrete block walls, ductwork, drywall, and acoustic ceilings in addition to the major task of flooring removal with asbestos abatement. The space was prepared for the mobile storage system by raising fire sprinkler heads, installing new lighting, painting, and laying down "green" quartz tile flooring. During this time the alarm keypad was moved to a more convenient location and new protocols were established for alarming the vault. The new HVAC ductwork, humidifier, and controls were installed, which monitor and regulate the environment in the vault, the basement office space, and the workroom. In addition to the work on the vault, the new office area, which formerly housed both collection objects and office space, was renovated and new cubicles were installed.

By the end of October 2005, the SpaceSaver system in the storage vault was ready for use and the office area and workroom were ready for occupation.

The Museum staff, volunteers, and student employees spent the month of November slowly moving the objects from the auditorium into the new collection vault, due to an exhibition scheduled to open in the auditorium at the end of November. We met the deadline and spent the next three months organizing objects and placing them in permanent home locations. Additional moving assistance for the heavier and more awkward objects was again performed by Lawrence Fine Arts. 

This project to create an upgraded collection vault for the permanent collection is a great source of pride to the Museum, and the permanent collection reopened to research and borrowing July 1, 2006.

de Saisset
1: Planning meeting in Storage 5
Permanent Collection

Find out more about the Museum's permanent collection of more than 11,000 objects.