Well-designed storage facilities are crucial to any museum’s effort to care for its collections, as only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time. Objects in storage require the same quality of long-term protection as those on display.
Five separate climate zones
The Stedelijk Museum’s state-of-the-art offsite storage building offers secure and stable environmental conditions for the wide range of materials represented in the collections. Five separate climate zones ensure suitable environmental conditions for various types of materials:
Temperature: Winter: 18°C ± 2°C / Summer: 20°C ± 2°C / Relative Humidity: 50% ± 5%
- Works on paper and mixed-media works (objects made from a combination of materials, such as paintings, installation art, or furniture).
Temperature: Winter: 18°C ± 2°C / Summer: 20°C ± 2°C / Relative Humidity: 50% ± 5% with separate ventilation system.
- Plastics, some of which may off-gas and negatively affect the condition of other materials. To this effect, the storage space for plastics has a separate ventilation system.
Temperature: Winter: 18°C ± 2°C / Summer: 20°C ± 2°C / Relative Humidity: 40% ± 5%
- Metals, which need to be stored in drier conditions than most other materials in order to prevent oxidation.
Temperature year round: 16°C –18°C / Relative humidity: 43 – 47%
- Black-and-white photography. Stable relative humidity is the most important factor in preserving such materials.
Temperature year round: 3 – 6°C / Relative humidity: 33% ± 3%
- Color photography, for which low temperature storage is the controlling factor in its long-term stability.
Preventive conservation plays an important role in the museum’s collection storage building, where about 95% of the collections can be found. Preventive conservation includes policies dealing with such issues as pest management, environmental control and daily maintenance of the storage spaces. It also addresses how objects are stored in order to facilitate their access and how they are protected within the storage systems. Managing all these aspects contribute to the long-term stability of the artworks.
The museum’s collection storage building is not only a physical place where objects are stored in optimal conditions, it is also a place where working and logistic processes are managed. A complex process is required to properly care for the Stedelijk’s collection while in storage. Each decision the storage team makes takes into consideration how changes will ensure the protection and preservation of the museum’s collection. Consequently, the Collection Care specialists who work in storage are trained to clearly understand the wide variety of objects with which they are entrusted.